Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Foodie Book Review - The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family
Laura Schenone

The desire to reinstate an old family tradition of making ravioli for Christmas, something her immigrant grandmother, Adalgiza, did faithfully for years, takes author Laura Schenone from suburban New Jersey to Italy and back again. Several times. Not satisfied with the family recipe, which had a nontraditional raw meat component and the very American addition of Philadelphia Brand cream cheese, Ms Schenone decided she needed to know the true Italian recipe, what it must have been before her family reached these shores. Through her journey, in addition to picking up lots of experience in ravioli-making, Schenone comes to realizations about both herself and her family. While well-written and interesting, particularly the parts about learning technique in Genoa, there are parts of the tale involving her family (a holy roller sister, drama with some of her father's relatives) that don't seem to further her story and were a bit TMI-ish for me.

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken is a bittersweet tale that, overall, was quite enjoyable. But then I love reading books about food and the people who eat it. While my tastes usually run to chef bios or tales involving Asia and its many cuisines, I felt a connection to Ms Schenone and her story. I envy her, that she had such a large family and relatives who were willing to share the food knowledge that had been passed down to them from their immigrant ancestors. My own maternal family was pretty small - just my grandparents, three aunts and an uncle, and three cousins. As far as I know, only the three cousins are still around, but we are estranged for reasons that I could not begin to explain (as I don't know them myself). I was too young to think to watch Grandma cook when she was still active in the kitchen, and once I had an interest in food, it was too late. In any case, my grandmother's recipes are long gone, with no one around to help me recreate them.

And since I have few of my own familial recipes to share, allow me to share one from someone else's background. While Schenone was in Italy, she encountered a type of stamped pasta called corzetti. As I read about it, I realized I had purchased a bag at Eataly the last time I was in New York. The classic saucing for this pasta is a type of loose pesto made with fresh herbs, olive oil, and pine nuts, and it was a delicious way to use up the last few herbs that were still growing in our porch garden. And much easier than making ravioli from scratch. :)

Corzetti with Fresh Herbs

8 ounces of corzetti pasta (or bowties, or similar flattened shape)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 minced shallot
2 cloves minced garlic
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 cup, loosely packed, chopped herbs (parsley, basil, mint)
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a sauté pan and cook shallot and garlic very slowly over low heat until the oil is infused with flavor and the vegetables begin to brown slightly. Add pine nuts and herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. When corzetti are done, remove them from the pot of cooking water with a slotted spoon and place them into the sauté pan. Toss with sauce. If they seem a little dry, add a tiny bit of the pasta cooking water.

Serve with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.

Posted by theminx on Minxeats.com.

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