Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Minestrone Soup | “Moonstruck”

by Blake

New York in the 80’s seems to be like the New York of today, except a little dirtier, more Italians, and fewer minorities. Personally, I feel as though Hollywood just doesn’t make old Italian people like they used to. In fact, this movie is like a celebration of Italian New York, complete with food, from start to finish. The movie even opens with Dean Martin’s That’s Amorewhich you have definitely heard. My actual favorite food seen in the film was the Egg-In-The-Hole being made by the best Greek-playing-Italian Olympia Dukakis, but is really too simple to require a recipe, right?

breakfast

Awesome.

Cher is Loretta Castorini, a 37-year-old widow who looks 26 (even with gray hair) because Cher ages backward, very very slowly and who lives with her parents in an area of Brooklyn with no cars and no minorities. Her fiancé, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) flies to Sicily right after proposing to Loretta in a restaurant.  But he wants his angry, estranged brother Ronny Cammareri (Nic Cage, who appears to work as a coal shoveler at Cammareri Brothers Bakery in Brooklyn) to attend, and asks Loretta to get him there while he’s away.

The scene where Cher goes to the bakery to convince Ronny to come to the wedding contains what might be the first over-the-top Nic Cage speech scene in film history, a harbinger of the Nic Cage to come, the Nic Cage we all know and love. I would have checked, but it’s been a long time since I saw Raising Arizona and we all know what happens when you watch too many Nic Cage films.

So, Spoiler Alert: How awesome would it be for a strange woman to show up at your job, tell you she’s marrying your brother and then cook you a medium rare steak? Beautiful Cher is having dinner with Raising Arizona Nicolas Cage. And it becomes exactly the kind of relationship beginning you’d expect from a Nic Cage baker character with a wooden hand. After not nearly enough scotch to make me believe Ronny could just get a woman like Cher into bed after a steak and conversation, especially when she’s marrying his brother, I had to tweet my assertion to the world:

No way does Cher (seen here):

Cher

Fall for Raising Arizona-level Nic Cage:

Cage

Cher tweeted back at me, which was awesome. Then her fans started to, which was overwhelming. They’re pretty big fans of Nic Cage in this movie. So you decide the feasibility of this romance. In my opinion, it must have been one hell of a moon that night.

And it was. The day after Loretta meets Ronny, she’s doing her rounds as a bookkeeper at her uncle’s deli, where he asks her about the moon. The moon got into everyone the night before, apparently. As she goes, her uncle, walking off, yells to the back: “Hey Frankie! Make me a bowl of Minestrone!” Minestrone is what you eat when you’re in love.

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Or when you’re having dinner with Frasier’s dad.

So let’s start this soup which celebrates love, Minestrone is not going to choke a pig, but its a great way to start a meal that could.
Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots, scrubbed, 1/4-inch dice
1 cup onions, 1/4-inch dice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 quart water
1 cup plum tomatoes, diced
8 ounces fresh pasta
1 cup zucchini, diced and blanched
1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach
Fresh cracked pepper

Garnish
Grated cheese (such as Parmesan or Romano)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into little scraps

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I grow my own basil, and so should everyone else.

 

* If you don’t have white wine on hand, chicken or vegetable stock will do in a pinch!

Instructions

• In a large saucepan, heat olive oil for 1 minute on medium-high.

• Add  carrots and sauté for 1 minute.

• Add the onions and sauté for 1 additional minute before adding the garlic, celery, and rosemary.

• Sauté this mixture for 5 minutes, or until the ingredients are caramelized.

• Add the white wine and bay leaf, bring to a boil, and add the water and tomatoes.

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• Bring to a boil, add the pasta, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.

• Remove the pan from the heat, fish out the bay leaf, and swirl in the zucchini and spinach.

• Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

• Call Frasier’s Dad out for being too old to sleep with college girls and/or enjoy the zest love brought to your life.

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FYI – Cammareri Brothers bakery at Henry and Sackett Streets in Brooklyn still open!

 

 

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Vinnie’s Prison Tomato Sauce | “Goodfellas”

By Blake Stilwell

As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be able to cook like a gangster. Even before I wandered into the Red Lobster for my first job, I knew I wanted to … okay, I’m just kidding. Hey, I love this movie. Everything about it is perfect. It used to make me smile every time I went to the Subway when I lived in Red Hook because my stop was by Smith and 9th and Jimmy was going to have Karen whacked on the corner of Smith and 9th.  I’m one of those goody-good people who work shitty jobs for bum paychecks and take the subway to work every day that Henry Hill talked about. Even now, every time I’m introduced to a large group of people at the same time, I think of this scene:

Of course, everything is great until the wiseguys get pinched for a shakedown. But if movies and television have taught me anything, it’s that mobsters don’t go to prisons like the rest of us. This is illustrated in one of my favorite food scenes in any movie ever made. It’s like Henry (Ray Liotta) said: Dinner in prison is a big deal. But a big dinner shouldn’t be just for wiseguys. It’s time for the big family dinner to make a comeback!  This week, so I’m posting a recipe that could please a crowd, maybe even the family.

While everyone was in prison, Vinnie was in charge of making the tomato sauce for the pasta dish. Vinnie was played by Charles Scorsese, director Martin Scorsese’s real-life father. Scorsese also cast his mother Catherine to play Tommy’s (Joe Pesci) mother. Luckily for us (and film history) he also got Catherine to cook the food seen in the film… namely the food Vinnie is cooking for the prison dinner pasta dish.

Why is lucky for us? In this scene, you don’t hear much about the ingredients involved…  Thin sliced garlic, oil, veal shanks, beef, pork, 3 small onions, 2 big cans of tomatoes. Based on this sliver of information, I could have devised an Italian-style sauce from this… but would anyone want to make a tomato sauce hacked together by some medigan from Southern Ohio? No, it’s lucky for us Catherine Scorsese cooked the food in Goodfellas because she was able to give her meat sauce recipe in to Entertainment Weekly in a 1990 article, the year Goodfellas was released.

For meat sauce:
1/2 lb. piece shank of veal, whole
1/2 lb. pork sausage
light olive oil
medium onion, chopped small
5 large garlic cloves or more, whole
6-oz. can tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans Italian-style tomatoes (preferably Redpak brand)

For meatballs:
1 lb. ground mixture of veal, beef, and pork
1 egg
grated Locatelli and sardo cheeses (this may require a trip to a deli, a Whole Foods, or a specialty store)
fresh parsley
garlic salt, optional
salt and finely ground red pepper
2 T tomato sauce
bread crumbs if needed for consistency

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Yes they do, in fact, sell this one pound meat mixture. No need to buy three pounds of separate meats.

Sauté sausage and veal in a large pot in olive oil until a little brown. Put aside. Sauté onion and garlic cloves in the same pot until golden. Add tomato paste and 3 paste cans of water to pot. Put tomatoes through a sieve to get rid of seeds and add to pot. Cook on low flame.

When sauce starts to bubble, add salt and red pepper to taste and simmer for a while, stirring every now and then from the bottom up. Don’t put in any oregano; it keeps repeating on you.

Add the large pieces of veal and pork. Cook uncovered until meat comes apart with a fork.

Mix meatball ingredients together and roll into egg-size balls. Put raw meatballs in the sauce — do not fry them. When meatballs float to the top of the sauce (don’t stir until they do), they should be done. Simmer and stir a few more minutes.

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Always listen to your mother. Also, always listen to Academy Award winning Director Martin Scorsese’s mother.

Remove pieces of veal and pork, slice, and serve as a side dish with meatballs. Serve sauce over spaghetti or whatever pasta you want.

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So that’s Mama Scorsese’s recipe verbatim.

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And it is definitely worth the time and effort.

If you need clarification, I recommend a cup of bread crumbs, and minimal cheese. If the meatballs still aren’t the consistency you like, add some more, just don’t make them mealy. This makes a pretty good amount of food. The recipe originally printed says “two hearty eaters” but this will cover more like five. After cooking this recipe, I have to wonder what Paulie was slicing the garlic to make…

In reality, of course, prison is not this good. I mean, it might have been for Henry, Vinnie, Paulie, and those guys. This movie was based on the non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, after all. But just think of Jimmy, that poor Irish bastard, he was probably having a much harder time in Atlanta.

Now… take me to jail.

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