Cooking the Roman Way: Authentic Recipes from the Home Cooks and Trattorias of Rome

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Rome is the most beloved city in Italy, if not the world. Rich in culture, art, and charm, the Eternal City is also home to some of the most delicious and accessible cooking in all of Italy. Influenced by both the earthy peasant fare of the surrounding hillsides and the fish from the nearby Mediterranean, Roman food makes the most of local ingredients and simple, age-old techniques. Yet while Italian cookbooks abound, no American book has focused on Romes unique and varied fare. In this beautifully illustrated ...

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2002 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 336 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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Cooking the Roman Way

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Overview

Rome is the most beloved city in Italy, if not the world. Rich in culture, art, and charm, the Eternal City is also home to some of the most delicious and accessible cooking in all of Italy. Influenced by both the earthy peasant fare of the surrounding hillsides and the fish from the nearby Mediterranean, Roman food makes the most of local ingredients and simple, age-old techniques. Yet while Italian cookbooks abound, no American book has focused on Romes unique and varied fare. In this beautifully illustrated cookbook, author David Downie and photographer Alison Harris offer a comprehensive collection of more than 125 Roman recipes, exploring the lively, uncomplicated food traditionally served in Roman homes and trattorie. From well-known dishes like Spaghetti Carbonara, to popular snack food like Pizza Bianca, to distinctive specialties like Roast Suckling Lamb, each recipe in Cooking the Roman Way is simple, authentic, and easy to make at home. With four-color photographs of landmarks, markets and food, stories about and profiles of food vendors, entertaining anecdotes, and a food lovers guide to the streets of the city, this book paints a vivid picture of Rome and the food that has sustained it for millennia.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Food writer Downie explores the streets and alleys of Rome, gathering recipes from trattoria chefs, home cooks, and even his Roman-born mother in this wonderfully complete culinary tour of the Eternal City. The food of Rome has both inspired and been inspired by the food from other regions throughout Italy, and Downie highlights each recipe with history and anecdotes. For starters, Downie explores Rome's Jewish Ghetto and appears with Carciofi alla Giuda (Fried Artichokes, Jewish Style) and Fiori di Zucca Fritti (Fried Zucchini Flowers). Ubiquitous throughout Italy are two dishes-both of which are made with guanciale, cured pork jowl, and generous helpings of Pecorino Romano cheese: the Bucatini all'Amatriciana (named for the mountain town southeast of Rome) and the Spaghetti alla Carbonara (which many believe got its name from the dish's carbon-looking pepper flakes). Main meals include Martino al Forno (Monkfish Baked on a Bed of Lemony Potatoes) and the comfort dish, Frittata con le Zucchine (Zucchini Frittata with Fresh Mint and Pecorino Romano). For dessert there's the Christmastime special, Fichi Ripieni (Dried Figs Stuffed with Ricotto and Almonds and a summer cooler, La Granita di Caffe della Tazza d'Oro, a coffee granita. In his first cookbook, Downie has beautifully and evocatively captured the cuisine of one of the world's best-known cities. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Considering the number of Italian cookbooks published in the last few years, it's surprising that Downie's is one of a handful to focus on the food of the Eternal City. Of course, there are regional cookbooks that include the city and its environs, and dishes alla romana appear in many other Italian cookbooks, but none has explored Roman food in such passionate detail. Downie, a well-known food and travel writer, provides truly authentic versions of both specialties (e.g., Fried Artichokes Jewish-Style, which reflects the Roman "obsession" with artichokes and the strong influence of the Jewish community) and relatively unknown but delectable dishes (e.g., Curly Endive Risotto and Sweet-and-Sour Wild Boar or Pork). He writes amusingly and knowledgeably on everything Roman, including the city's long culinary history, and color photographs of markets and other street scenes, architectural details, and many of the recipes add to the appeal of the book. Highly recommended. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060188924
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/22/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

David Downie is the author of Enchanted Liguria: A Celebration of the Culture, Lifestyle, and Food of the Italian Riviera. His food and travel articles have appeared in many publications, including Saveur, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has also published a book of essays in Italian and a thriller in French. He and his wife, Alison Harris, divide their time between Paris and Italy.

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First Chapter

Rustici con Ricotta e Spinaci

Ricotta and Spinach Turnover

Serves 4 to 8 (8 small appetizer turnovers or 4 large first-course turnovers)

These mini pizzas are Rome's version of the Neapolitan calzone or folded, filled turnover-like pizza. They're pretty rustic in appearance, hence their name, and are made with the same dough used for pizza bianca. The fillings range from the classic spinach and ricotta, to ham and cheese, or spicy pan-fried chicory with garlic and hot chili pepper. I've even tasted rustici with sautéed artichokes tucked inside. Romans eat these turnovers primarily as snacks or in lieu of a sandwich at lunch. This rustici recipe comes from Pierluigi Roscioli of l'Antico Forno bakery.

Ingredients

1 recipe Pizza Bianca dough (pages 20 to 21, up to step 4)
2 heaping tablespoons flour for dusting
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds fresh young spinach, well rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups ricotta (about 1 pound), preferably Italian ewe's milk ricotta
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Instructions

  1. Prepare the pizza bianca dough through step 4.
  2. Uncover and punch down the dough. Transfer it to a marble slab or wooden board generously dusted with flour. Knead for about 1 minute, incorporating any oil and salt left in the bowl. The dough should be slightly sticky.
  3. Divide the dough into eight (or four) equal-size pieces. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pieces of doughinto rough squares about 1/8 inch thick, tugging with your fingers. Place the squares side-by-side on a large work surface and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Oil two shallow 10 1/2-by-15 1/2 -inch baking sheets.
  5. Place the spinach, still dripping, in a large stockpot. Stirring frequently, cook, covered, over medium heat until it wilts, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing down firmly with the bottom of a water glass and your fingers to eliminate as much liquid as you can.
  6. Melt the butter in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Return the squeezed spinach to the stockpot and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and mince it. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly beat the egg into the spinach.
  7. If the ricotta is runny, strain out the excess liquid through cheesecloth. Stir the ricotta into the spinach, adding a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in the Pecorino Romano, which will also help absorb any remaining liquid, in addition to providing flavor.
  8. With a slotted spoon, scoop up the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and make equal mounds in the centers of each of the dough squares, until the mixture is used up.
  9. Prepare one turnover at a time. With your fingers, spread the filling evenly over the dough surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border of plain dough all around. Lift a corner of the square and fold it over until it aligns with the corner opposite, forming a triangular turnover. Pinch firmly along the edges or press down crisply with the tines of a fork to seal the turnover.
  10. Dip a pastry brush into the remaining oil and brush the surface of each turnover. With a spatula transfer the turnovers to the baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the crust is golden.
  11. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Pollo coi Peperoni alla Romana

Chicken Sautéed With Sweet Peppers, Roman Style

Serves 6 To 8

This recipe for sweet, spicy, succulent chicken sometimes goes by the name pollo alla trasteverina (chicken cooked in the style of Trastevere). Everyone in Rome agrees that whatever the name, chicken with stewed peppers is the archetypal Roman chicken dish, traditionally made for the Festa de' Noiantri and Ferragosto, respectively the mid-July and mid-August holidays that go back to antiquity. The recipe is still made by countless home cooks and often appears on the menus of trattorias in Trastevere, where it was probably invented centuries ago. Making it in the traditional way involves blackening and peeling the sweet peppers before stewing them, a messy process that's richly rewarding because scorched peppers are tastier and sweeter than un-scorched ones. A perennial argument among this dish's devotees revolves around the roasting, scorching and peeling methods and whether onion or garlic or both should count among the ingredients. You'll need a large, high-sided frying pan with a lid to make this recipe.

Ingredients

5-pound whole range-raised chicken or parts (mix of thighs, wings, breasts)
1 large white onion
2 ounces pancetta or bacon (2 to 3 strips)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 peperoncino (hot chili pepper), shredded, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Italian dry white wine, preferably Frascati or Marino
1 (16-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
4 to 5 large sweet peppers (mix of yellow and red), roasted, skinned and seeded (see How to Roast, Skin and Seed a Sweet Pepper, page 65)
1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh marjoram or oregano

Instructions

  1. If necessary, cut the chicken into individual parts. Rinse the pieces and pat them dry with paper towels. Remove and discard any fat.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the onion with the pancetta.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided frying pan over medium. Add the onion and pancetta. Sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the onion becomes translucent and the pancetta barely starts to crisp, about 3 to 4minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan to a bowl and cover with a lid.
  4. Add the peperoncino to the pan and stir. Increase the heat to high, add the chicken parts and brown them thoroughly, stirring, flipping and scraping, 8 to 10 minutes. If the chicken is very fatty pour off some of the fat. Return the sauteed onions and pancetta to the pan and stir thoroughly.
  5. Pour in the wine and boil to evaporate it, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their packing juices and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or spatula. Lower the heat to minimum and simmer, covered, while preparing the sweet peppers.
  6. Slice the skinned, seeded peppers into strips 1/2 to 1 inch wide and 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. Stir them into the frying pan with the chicken. Sprinkle in the marjoram and adjust the salt. Simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is tender enough to flake apart with the tines of a fork, 15 to 25 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately
Cooking the Roman Way. Copyright © by David Downie. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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