It’s Real Fettuccine Alfredo. It Never Used Cream.

T Fettuccine Alfredo (Lazio) (1) he rise and fall of fettuccine Alfredo is a story of a simple dish taken from its home and embellished with flourishes before sliding into culinary familiarity, dullness and bastardization.

Although it has its roots in Roman cuisine, it is nothing but a restaurant dish in Italy and America. Fettuccine Alfredo became a classic of Italian-American cooking, but today is often served as third-rate tourist food in the Little Italy emporiums catering to them in America’s cities.

This wasn’t always true. In the 1940s and 1950s, fettuccine Alfredo was a signature dish of continental-style French-service restaurants where waiters, with a flourish, would prepare the dish tableside in a chafing dish.

The classic story of its origins is that the dish was invented in a Roman trattoria on the Via della Scrofa near the Tiber River by Alfredo di Lelio, who opened his restaurant in the early part of the 20th century. He invented the dish for his wife, it is said, after she gave birth and lost her appetite. READ MORE

Pork Belly Roasted with Honey Balsamic Glaze Makes A Delicious Appetizer

Pork Belly, honey-balsamic roast (3) Pork belly as it is sold by butchers and supermarkets includes the skin, fat layer, and some thin muscle streaks from the sides and belly of the hog. Belly is not stomach, but literally the belly. It’s most common use is as bacon. Bacon is the smoked cured slices of belly that are high in fat and streaked with muscle and seasoned with salt and spices.

Unsmoked raw pork belly, long popular in Europe and Asian cuisines, has recently become a rage in restaurants where it is often serve as a roasted appetizer. It’s exceedingly easy to roast and the only difficult part is finding a piece of pork belly large enough to make the effort worthwhile and to serve four to six people.

If you can’t find pork belly in your supermarket—and it’s unlikely you will because supermarkets lag far behind what restaurant chefs introduce—you’ll need to seek out a butcher or an ethnic market. I use the meat markets in the Koreatown of Los Angeles.

There absolutely nothing you have to do to the belly to prepare it for roasted other than place it in its marinade. In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise with a little salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the belly with the marinade and then let the belly marinate in the glaze overnight in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. The next morning preheat the oven to 225 degrees F and place the belly on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast, skin-side up, until very tender, about 9 hours, basting every now and then until the marinade is used up.

Remove the roasted belly to a carving board or a platter and carefully slice off the skin and set aside. Slice off the first, thick layer of fat and discard it. Place the skin back on top for serving purposes only. Slice into portions at the table. Because of the richness of the roasted belly the most sensible way to serve it is as an appetizer accompanied with something plain such as crushed potatoes or a simple green. S.lice the belly into small cubes and serve on top of any of the following: a slice of baguette, a little mustard, applesauce,chopped arugula, thin slice of jicama, or mashed potatoes.

Techniques for Cooking Fish Don’t Have To Be Intimidating

Baked Swordfish with Golden Crust (CAWCOM) (2)

One of the oddest questions I get when serving fish is, “Does this fish have bones?” My answer is always, “Assume it does.” I answer that way to encourage people to eat slowly, to eat as if it does have bones, because all fish have bones. Even when … [Continue reading]

Colorful Summer Salads Make the Most of Heirlooms

Purple Caulifower, Yellow Sweet Pepper, Tomato Salad

Think of the platter as a palette, and your vegetables as swaths of paint that fill in the color of the canvas. This is what every August provides as our tomato plants and other garden vegetables are going crazy and this means we should be thinking … [Continue reading]

Summertime Raw Sauce for Pasta

Fettuccine with Raw Sauce (CAWCOM) (3)

A delightful way to prepare pasta for a hot summer day is to toss it with a raw sauce or what the Italians call a salsa cruda.  Summers can be too hot for full-fledged piping hot food so a raw sauce can come into play.  It is exactly what it sounds … [Continue reading]

Juicy Figs Stuffed in Tomatoes Make a Summer Appetizer

Tomato Stuffed with Fig, Prosciutto, and Mint (CAWCOM) (2)

Our figs in California are so abundant and delicious that throughout the summer we dream all ways of using them.  This particular preparation is wonderful as an appetizer to a barbeque party.  The tomatoes I call for are a cultivar called Carmelo, … [Continue reading]

Take A Four-Course Meal Outdoors With A Grill Party

Bell peppers, grilled (3)

Grilling takes effort. Lots of coal goes into building the fire; you wait for the coals to get hot; and the food cooks in about 15 minutes, if you’re having steaks, burgers, vegetables or hot dogs. And that’s it. The fire continues burning, wasting … [Continue reading]

Griddle on the Grill

Griddled Bread

You can grill just about anything that doesn't fall through the grilling grate and with accessories like grilling baskets literally nothing.  Another trick is griddling--that is, putting a cast iron griddle or pan on the grate and then cook delicate … [Continue reading]

Eggplant and Tomatoes for a Summer Salad

Tomato, Eggplant, Ricotta (4)

There's something about those summer vegetables especially tomatoes and eggplant that just beckon to be prepared over and over in endless variety of cooked dishes, side dishes, salads, appetizers, or any which way. I  lean towards an Italian style … [Continue reading]

Upside-down Casserole Brings some Memories and some History

Maqluba (Palestine) (6)

Recently I've been enjoying myself by remaking many of the recipes on my web site that don't have photographs. Some of those recipes were posted so long ago--some from the late 90s--that photography wasn't that important in … [Continue reading]

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