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From Biba's Italian Kitchen

From Biba's Italian Kitchen

by Biba Caggiano

From Biba Caggiano Come all the rich, flavorful recipes and The warm good fun of her sensationally popular cooking show, Biba's Italian Kitchen, which has been called the most delightful cooking show on the air.

Following a childhood spent in Bologna, and an adulthood in the bosom of an Italian family in New York, Biba Caggiano found herself in Sacramento,


From Biba Caggiano Come all the rich, flavorful recipes and The warm good fun of her sensationally popular cooking show, Biba's Italian Kitchen, which has been called the most delightful cooking show on the air.

Following a childhood spent in Bologna, and an adulthood in the bosom of an Italian family in New York, Biba Caggiano found herself in Sacramento, California, in 1968, unable to find the food that was familiar to her palate—and essential to her heritage. Working from memory, Biba recalled her roots and recreated authentic Italian flavor in this most American of cities, and quickly became a local legend for her cooking classes and, ultimately for her famously delicious restaurant, Biba.

Biba's fantastic, simple dishes represent what the Italians call la buona cucina casalinga—more commonly known as "good home cooking"—and are now available to all in From Biba's Italian Kitchen.

Biba's foolproof method relies on the senses, not on the repetition of rigid recipes. Do the tomatoes at the market look particularly fresh? Then it's time to whip up a quick puttanesca sauce to top practically any pasta or meat dish. Are the porcini mushrooms especially eye-catching today? A tangy and woodsy sauce of porcini and tomatoes for. delicate spinach-ricotta gnocchi is just minutes away. Did a batch of walnuts just arrive from your aunt out West? Walnut pesto is the only proper reply. Biba trusts her (and your)impulses, and encourages a casual but committed approach to food, two hallmarks of la dolce vita, the sweet life that From Biba's Italian Kitchen promotes on every page.

Biba starts with a staple of Italian cooking: the elegant, integral antipasti. Simple or sophisticated antipasti show the instruments of the Italian symphony tuning up before the first act. Gorgeous red bell peppers nestle with hunks of Italian bread and are topped by verdant parsley to make luscious bruschetta, plump little artichokes nuzzle with sun-dried tomatoes for sun-drenched carciofini all'olio; and fresh eggs with earthy potatoes and onions blend to create rustic fritatta di patate e cipolle.

The harmony continues into the main dishes, a cavalcade of pasta, meat, and fish dishes that catch attention without disrupting a schedule. Prepare in haste and enjoy in leisure such delicacies as seafood cannelloni, delectably bitter pasta with broccoli rabe, succulent osso buco, veal shank with tomatoes and peas, or classic tagliatelle with sweet prosciutto and fresh tomatoes.

A chapter on vegetable side dishes (whether grilled, sautéed, baked, stuffed, roasted, braised, or steamed) shows how primizie—the first, freshest produce of the season—bring the vegetable garden to the urban table. Complete sections on pizza (of course!),risotti, the light yet hearty dishes, made from Italian arborio rice, and polenta, the scrumptious cornmeal preparation that is the perfect foil to vegetable and meat alike, round out Biba's memorable tavola calda.

And dessert!Italian desserts! Juicy fig and jam tart, sinful mascarpone-zabaglione mousse, juicy strawberries in red wine, and apple and amaretti cake serve as an elegant, graceful cadenza to the mellifluous meals in From Biba's Italian Kitchen.Striking every grace note, Biba conducts her culinary symphony, Biba conducts her culinary symphony with verve, and makes a maestro of every cook.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.25(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

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Spinach Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Tomatoes

Serves 4 to 6

Spinach tagliatelle are the classic egg noodles of Emilia-Romagna, and this dish incorporates some of the best ingredients of the region: prosciutto from the hills of Langhirano outside Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese produced in a defined area in Emilia; and, of course, good homemade pasta.

If you don'twant to make your own pasta, select dried egg noodles or spinach noodles imported from Italy, such as Fini, Del Verde, or De Cecco. All are excellent brands and easily available in Italian specialty stores.

For The Spinach Tagliatelle

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons cooked, finely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, squeezed of all moisture

For The Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1/3 cup minced carrot
1/3 cup minced celery
1/4 pound prosciutto, cut into a 1/8-inch slice and then cut into thin strips
3 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice, put through a food mill to remove the seeds
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Prepare the spinach dough as instructed on pages 48-49, using the flour and the eggs in this recipe.

Roll out the dough and cut it into tagliatelle as instructed on page 50.

Prepare the sauce: Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring, until vegetables are lightlygolden and soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the tomatoes and the cream and season with salt and just a touch of pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until sauce has a mediumthick consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add I tablespoon of salt and the tagliatelte. Cook, uncovered, over high heat until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite.

Drain the pasta and place it in a large, heated serving bowl. Add the sauce and about 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano, and mix well. Serve at once with additional Parmigiano.

Do not add all the sauce to the pasta at once, for you might not need it all. I generally mix the pasta with about half the sauce, then add more as needed. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated or frozen.

Deep-Fried Sweet Pastry Balls

Makes 45 to 50 Fritters

Fritters! The mere word brings back images of large platters piled with these light, golden balls made of rice, ricotta, or just flour, butter, sugar, and yeast. In my youth, every household in Bologna prepared fritters. They were delicious, simple to make, and inexpensive. Unfortunately, in Italy today this type of dessert is disappearing. It's too bad because even while trying to eat a healthier diet, we are also eliminating a most basic "comfort" food.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast, diluted in 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
Salt to taste
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Oil for frying
Additional granulated sugar, spread on a plate

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, the diluted yeast, and a pinch of salt into a soft batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the remaining flour, eggs, butter, and sugar to the batter, and mix well to incorporate. Knead the dough by hand, or with an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, until it is smooth, soft, and pliable, and just a bit sticky, 5 to 6 minutes by hand or 2 to 3 minutes with the mixer. Place the dough in a lightly floured large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubted in volume, 1 to 1 1/2. hours.

Transfer the dough to a wooden board and flatten it down with your hands. Knead it lightly for a minute or two. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. Flour your hands lightly and roll out each piece of dough with a light back-and-forth motion into a roll about the thickness of a thin sausage. Cut each roll into 1-inch pieces and place them on a lightly floured platter or cookie sheet.

Pour 2 inches of oil in a medium-size saucepan. When the oil is very hot (375 °F. on a thermometer), drop a few pieces of dough at a time into the hot oil. When the fritters are golden on both sides, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Roll the fritters in the additional sugar, pile them on a serving platter, and serve hot.

You can till the fritters with a dollop of thick jam, pastry cream, fruit puree, or zabaglione. Place the tilling in a small pastry bag fitted with a small tip, press the tip into the fritters, and till.

From Biba's Italian Kitchen. Copyright � by Biba Caggiano. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Biba Caggiano is the author of Northern Italian Cooking, Modern Italian Cooking, and Leo Buscaglia's Love Cookbook with Biba Caggiano, From Biba's Italian Kitchen, and Italy alDente. Her cooking show, Biba's Kitchen, was seen on the Learning Channel, and she is the chef/owner of Biba's restaurant in Sacramento, California, where she lives.

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