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La Belle Cuisine - More Lagniappe * Recipes

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create well...
is an act of integrity, and faith."

*Lagniappe (lan-yap)  - a little something extra,
that little unexpected pleasant surprise.


Christmas Memories with Recipes:
Marcella Hazan



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Recipe Source:

Christmas Memories with Recipes icon
1994, Wings Books, a division of Random House
Value Publishing, Inc.


In our opinion, this is one of the very best Christmas cookbooks around,
and it is most definitely a bargain not to be passed up. It contains excellent
recipes and well-written nostalgia by some of the world's best cooks. To
name but a few: Julia Child, Craig Claiborne, Marcella Hazan, Lee Bailey,
Jacques Pépin, Martha Stewart, Robert Finigan and Maida Heatter.

Marcella Hazan - Christmas in Cesenatico, 1945

"...Christmas morning was a morning such as we had doubted, during the last
dark years, we could ever live again. Everyone was up early to complete
preparations for the meal that was to be the only present any one of us
would get that year...
We sat down at 12:00 noon, a full hour before our customary midday
mealtime. The stirring odors of good things ready to be eaten could no
longer be resisted. I had never before, nor perhaps since, experienced
such a sense of life being full and right and wholly unblemished."


Pollo in Umido alla Contadina
(Fricasseed Chicken with Tomatoes, Peasant Style)

Serves 4 to 6

A 2 1/2-to-3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thin-sliced onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
Salt to taste
Black pepper in a grinder
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups fresh, ripe sauce tomatoes, peeled and cut up,
or canned Italian plum tomatoes with their juice

Wash the chicken pieces in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with
kitchen towels.
Choose a lidded sauté pan that can subsequently accommodate all the
chicken pieces without overlapping. Put in the olive oil and onion and
turn on the heat to medium. Do not cover the pan. Cook the onion until
it is tender and turns a blond gold color without browning.
Put in the chicken pieces, skin side down, and the sliced garlic. Cook the chicken without turning it until it has formed a light brown crust on one
side. Turn it and cook until the other side also forms a crust.
Add salt and several grindings of pepper. Put in the wine and turn up the
heat. When the wine has bubbled long enough to become reduced to half
its original volume, add the tomatoes, turn the heat down to medium low,
and cover the pan.
Cook until the chicken feels very tender when pricked with a fork and
comes easily away from the bone. If there should be too much fat left
in the pan, tilt the pan and spoon off the excess before serving.

Ahead-of-time note: The dish can be prepared several hours in advance
and kept a room temperature. If preparing it in advance, do not draw off
any excess fat when the chicken is cooked. Reheat just before serving
over very low heat in a covered pan. When fully reheated, title the pan
and draw off any superfluous fat with a spoon.


La Ciambella di Nonna Polini
(My Grandmother’s Pastry Ring)

"As a special gift for my father, Mother rose earlier than anyone else to
bake ciambella, a breakfast cake Nonna Polini had taught her when she
was married. It is now my husband’s, as it was then my father’s. favorite
thing to have with a large morning coffee. To make the gift particularly
sumptuous, Mother made custard cream, which my father would spread
thickly over the ciambella."

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 small pinch salt
Grated peel of 1 whole lemon (do not grate
deeper than the colored surface skin)
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
2 eggs

A heavy baking sheet, lightly buttered and dusted with flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Gently melt the butter in a little saucepan without letting it get too hot.
Put the flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, melted butter, cream of
tartar, soda, salt, grated lemon peel, and warm milk. Add the first egg.
As you add the second egg, let the white run into the bowl first. Before
adding the yolk, remove a teaspoonful of it, and set it aside. You will
use it later to "paint" the ring.
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, then turn out onto a board or other
work surface, and knead for a few minutes. Shape the dough into a
large sausage roll about 2 inches thick, and make it into a ring, pinching
the ends of the roll together to close the ring.
Brush the surface of the ring with the teaspoon of egg yolk you set
aside earlier, and score it with a few shallow diagonal cuts.
Place the ring in the center of the buttered and floured baking sheet.
Bake in the upper level of the preheated oven for 35 minutes. It
should become nearly double in size.
Set on a rack to cool. It tastes best when served the following day.


Crema Pasticcera
(Italian Custard Cream Sauce)

Makes about 2 1/4 cups

"Crema pasticcera requires the patience to cook it long enough, without
boiling it, to give the flour time and just sufficient heat to dissolve in
the sauce without leaving a trace of graininess or a pasty, floury taste.
There is nothing mysterious about this. When a sauce is lumpy or has a
doughy flavor, it means the flour has been cooked too fast or not too tho-
roughly, or both. Although I am accustomed to using a heavy-bottomed
saucepan for making crema pasticcera, if you are worried about how
to keep the heat under control, try using a double boiler, but make sure
the water in the lower half of the boiler stays at a brisk boil."

3 egg yolks
3 ounces confectioner’s sugar
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Grated peel of  1/2 lemon

Put the egg yolks and sugar into a heavy saucepan or in the upper half
of a double boiler. Off the heat, beat the eggs until they are pale yellow
and creamy. Add the flour gradually, beating in no more than 1 table-
spoon at a time.
In another pan bring all the milk just to the brink of a boil, when the
edge begins to be ringed with little bubbles.
Add the hot milk very gradually to the egg-and-flour mixture, always
off the heat. Stir constantly to avoid lumps.
Put the saucepan over low heat (or over the lower half of the double
boiler in which the water has been brought to a boil). Cook for about
5 minutes, stirring steadfastly with a spoon. Do not let the mixture
come to a boil; it’s all right, however, for an occasional bubble to break
slowly through the surface. The crema is done when it clings to the
spoon with a medium- dense creamy coating.
Remove from heat and stir for a few minutes until the bottom of the
pan cools off a little. Mix in the grated lemon peel.

More Christmas Memories:
Robert Finigan
Edward Giobbi
Jenifer Lang
Jacques Pepin
Julee Rosso
Helen Witty


More from Marcella Hazan:
Tomato Sauce 101
Matching Pasta to Sauce
Carbonara Sauce
Clam Sauce with Tomatoes
White Clam Sauce
Ossobuco Milanese

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