Lama Mountain Ovens
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-American family - with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.
This is a cookbook-in-process project. If you try any of these recipes please let us know how they turn out, whether or not you had any difficulties, and any clarifying improvements you might recommend to make them foolproof. We will of course acknowledge genuine "test-kitchen" assistance.
Family Secrets #56
Cappelletti with Mushroom/Ricotta Stuffing in Brown Butter and Sage
By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens
In September 2000 we put our daughter Jennifer on a flight to Italy. During the next nine months she would attend a professional chef's school in Italy for six months, and then strike out on her own to travel throughout Europe for the last three months. The Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners is located in a partially restored castle in Costigliole, near Asti, in northern Italy. The program she participated in is designed for chefs who already have credentials, and it consisted of two months at the school and four months of work in a restaurant. She was placed at Da Vittorio Ristorante in Bergamo, even further north. Da Vittorio has earned two stars in the Michelin Guide and its primary focus is seafood, which was her request for placement. She did not speak Italian when she left, but since the two month program at the school was conducted in Italian and nobody at the restaurant spoke English, she now speaks Italian. It is probably not grammatically correct, but she is quite able to conduct a conversation, and more important to her, tell a joke and win an argument in Italian. Important in a professional kitchen. Fortunately the school provided an interpreter for the first two months of classes.
This was her first trip abroad on her own, but her second trip to
Italy, the first being about ten years earlier when she was 14 years old and we decided it
was time for her to see some of the great cities of Europe. She grew up eating my Italian
cooking, and had worked in a very popular neighborhood Italian restaurant in Oakland,
California for several years, where she helped them open a second restaurant and became
their night chef for a year before deciding it was time to see where her roots lie.
|I hadn't been to Italy in 10 years, and when she completed her work at Da Vittorio in March my husband and I decided to meet her and conduct a culinary tour of our own making. It was time for me to touch bases with the old country again. My husband was working in Malaysia at that time, so Jennifer and I put our heads together via e-mails and global cell phones and devised a loop that would start in Milan, hit Bergamo and Verona, and head down the Adriatic coast to Ravenna, cut across to Parma, Sienna, and Orvieto, then back north to Portofino and Milan.||
|During those fourteen days we managed to eat some form of pasta at
least once each day, and often twice. From the smallest village to the largest most
sophisticated city every pasta was made in-house and they were fabulous. In each region we
explored the best of the local wines, visited every open air market we could connect with
and, of course, did a fair share of visiting museums, churches, and local points of
interest. But always my thoughts would go back to the wonderful pasta. My roots probably
just needed a little reviving, but that small taste of Italy went a long way towards
reminding me of who I am.
Jennifer joined us in New Mexico upon her return, and promised to share personal favorites from her Italian education. Here, compliments of her experience at Italian Colors in Oakland, is a recipe that will make you think you are dining in northern Italy. Although the amounts seem large, these freeze beautifully, and it is worth the time to make the whole batch. You can serve them as a primi piatti, serving about six per person, or as a main course, allowing up to twelve per person.
Cappelletti with Mushroom and Ricotta Stuffing in Brown Butter and Sage Sauce
Stuffing Ingredients to fill approximately 125 cappelletti:
Step One: Heat clarified butter in a 12" sauté pan, add onions and shallots and sweat over medium heat about five minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional two minutes. Add both fresh and rehydrated mushrooms, salt and pepper. Increase heat slightly and stir frequently. When mushrooms have cooked down, add white wine and cook until all liquid is evaporated and mushrooms are dry. Stir in sage.
Step Two: Scrape the mixture into a food processor and purée to a paste. Remove paste to a bowl and allow to cool about five minutes. Fold in ricotta, parmesan and parsley and adjust salt and pepper if needed. If mixture is at all runny, add fine white crumbs to make a paste, although you should not need much. Cool completely before filling pasta or refrigerate up to 24 hours and bring to room temperature before using.
Make pasta dough: Make one batch of pasta dough (see Family Secrets Number 8 ) adding a teaspoon of olive oil to the eggs as you incorporate the flour into the dough.
Step One: Make a simple egg wash with one beaten egg and a tsp. of cold water.
Step Two: Fill a pastry bag with mushroom filling at room temperature.
Step Three: Roll dough as wide as your roller will permit and ending quite thin (no. 6 setting on the Atlas machine). Each sheet may be as long as you can handle but only work with one sheet at a time. Trim ends to square. Cut each sheet in half lengthwise and separate, so you have two long pieces about 2" to 2 1/2 inches wide. Brush the upper edge of each long sheet with a light brush of egg wash.
Step Four: Working with one sheet at a time, cut into squares of approximately two to two and one-half inches. Squeeze a scant 1/2 tsp. filling onto the center of each square (using a pastry bag will make quick work of this although you could just use a measuring spoon).
Step Five: Working with one at a time fold the square in half and firmly seal the edges with your fingers. Roll the square over once away from you, grasp the edges and pinch them together and you will have a cappelletti. Place on floured sheet pan. You may freeze these on the pan, then quickly gather them up and bag them for the freezer.
Saucing and Serving:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt. If frozen they will take approximately 5 to 6 minutes to cook. If fresh they'll take a minute or two less.
(1) Fold and seal (2) Roll once
(3) Grasp edges (4) Pinch together
Brown Butter/Sage Sauce for about 60 cappelletti (enough for four entrees):
In a medium/large sauté pan (Teflon is not recommended) heat the butter over medium/high heat until melted. Add the garlic cloves and sage leaves. Watch the pan as the butter continues to cook because it will burn if you're not careful. Let it go until a deep brown color is achieved. Using a higher heat will accelerate the process, but less flavor will be infused from the sage and garlic, so I recommend using a medium heat. Remove the smashed garlic and discard.
To serve: When the pasta is cooked strain them and add them to the sauce, flip to coat and season with salt and pepper. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Altitude Adjustment: None.