Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sausage Maker, by MIchael DeBrito, 2008.

Recipe below: Orecchiette with Swiss Chard, Fennel Sausage, and Lemon

It has been the summer of rain. Many of my herbs have got waterlogged and root rot. My basil, one of my most loved plants, turned yellow and drooped and then just wilted altogether. And I planted a lot of basil—Genoa basil, sweet basil, Thai basil, whose taste drives me crazy, opal basil, cinnamon basil. All those plants just tanked. This caused me much anxiety. I kept replanting, and finally I just gave up and bought basil from farmers’ markets (although I certainly couldn’t find all the beautiful varieties that I wanted growing in my little garden). How are they keeping their basil healthy? When I asked at Migliorelli farms, she just said, yeah, it’s been a strange year. Professional farmers have their ways, and I guess we’re not allowed to know about them. Dying and dead basil remains a summer torment.

I’ve become so alarmed at not having basil that whenever I see it at a farm stand I buy it, not knowing exactly what I’ll use it for and worried I might waste some of the huge bunch I’m forced to purchase. I’ve been throwing it into dishes where in the past I wouldn’t have thought would work, for instance, in this pasta where the main ingredient is Swiss chard. Swiss chard and basil seem an odd couple, the chard being strong, slightly bitter, and even a little metallic. I often don’t use any herb with chard, and almost never with broccoli rabe, another green that I find is complete in itself.  But this time, with my chard, I threw in a big handful of basil at the end, because I had bought so much, and, you know. . . . And something good came of it. The two tastes melded into one, the basil tamping down the bitter chard and introducing a sweetness that seemed to be born of the mix, not a characteristic of either of these ingredients itself. Live and learn about herbs.

Orecchiette with Swiss Chard, Fennel Sausage, and Lemon

(Serves 2)

1 large bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and lightly chopped
½ pound orecchiette
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 sweet Italian sausages with fennel seeds, the casings removed, the meat chopped
2 summer garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 red peperoncino, sliced into thin rounds
A big splash of dry white wine
A big splash of chicken broth
The grated zest from 1 large lemon
A handful of basil leaves, lightly chopped
A chunk of pecorino Toscano cheese

Set up a large pot of pasta cooking water. Add salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the Swiss chard, and blanch it for about a minute. Using a large strainer spoon, scoop the chard out of the water and into a colander. Run cold water over it to bring up its green color. Squeeze as much water out of it as you can, and give it another quick chop.

Bring the water back to a boil, and drop in the orecchiette.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the sausage, and sauté until it’s lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and peperoncino, and sauté another minute to release their flavors. Season with a little salt.

Add the chard, and sauté for a minute. Add the splash of wine, and let it bubble for a minute. Add the chicken broth and the lemon zest, and simmer for a minute, just to blend all the flavors. Turn off the heat.

When the orecchiette is al dente, drain it, saving a little of the cooking water, and add the orecchiette to the sauté pan, tossing everything around to blend well.

Pour the pasta into a serving bowl. Add the basil and a heaping tablespoon of pecorino, and toss gently, adding a little pasta cooking water if you need it to loosen the sauce. Serve right away, with extra pecorino brought to the table.

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Recipe below: String Bean and Potato Salad with Gently Pickled Shallots and Marjoram

This is my slightly evolved version of an Italian-American summer classic, the string bean and potato salad with red onion that my family, and everyone else’s Italo Americano family, made for summer cookouts (we didn’t even call them barbecues back then). It’s especially good served alongside grilled pork sausages flavored with fennel. Follow that with grilled corn and then peaches in red wine, and you’ve got a perfect summer meal.

The beauty of this salad lies in its simplicity, but of course I had to go complicate things, although, in this case, I don’t think wrongly. The raw red onions this usually includes are fine, but I felt a little brightness wouldn’t hurt—just a little—so I worked out a gentle pickling method for shallots. You could use the same method for red onions, but I’m always drawn to shallots’ complexity, and I went with them. What keeps the pickle from being too aggressive is rice wine vinegar. Don’t be tempted to substitute regular white wine vinegar. That would throw the balance off. And, going ahead with my update of this classic, I included fresh marjoram in place of the dried oregano that most of my paesani reach for. Live and learn, or live and unlearn, depending on your point of view. Anyway, I’m really happy with how it came out.

Happy summer cooking to everyone.

String Bean and Potato Salad with Gently Pickled Shallots and Marjoram

(Serves 4)

For the gently pickled shallots:

4 medium shallots
½ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
A dozen or so fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coarsely ground sea salt


5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into medium cubes
¾ pound string beans, trimmed and cut in half on an angle
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil, the best you have
Black pepper
A few large thyme sprigs, the leaves chopped
About 6 marjoram sprigs, the leaves chopped

To make the gently pickled shallots: Peel the shallots, and trim off their ends. Cut them in quarters lengthwise, and pull them apart so they fall into pieces. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, fennel seeds, and salt. Add about ½ cup of water, and bring it to a boil, letting it bubble about a half a minute, just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Put the shallots in a shallow bowl, and pour the vinegar mix over them. To keep them submerged I usually cover them with a small plate. Let them sit until cooled. Now you can either leave them in the bowl with plastic wrap pressed against them, or transfer them to a jar with a lid. In any case, leave them in the refrigerator overnight, so they can develop flavor. I find they stay fresh and good for only about 4 days, so I make small batches and make sure to use them fairly soon.

To make the salad: Put the cubed potatoes in a medium-size saucepan, and cover them with cool water. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain them. Set up another pot of water, and bring it to a boil. Add the string beans, and blanch them until tender but still firm, about 4 minutes. Drain them, and run cold water over them to set their green color.

Put the warm potatoes in a shallow serving bowl. In a small bowl mix the mustard together with the rice wine vinegar. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and pour the liquid over the potatoes, gently mixing it in.

Add the string beans and a palmful of the pickled shallots. Season everything with salt and black pepper, and add the thyme and marjoram. Drizzle with another tablespoon or so of good olive oil, and toss everything gently, trying not to break up the potatoes. Serve right away, or at least soon.

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Still Life with Cherries and Peaches, by Paul Cezanne.

Recipe below: Cherry Torta with Lemon Verbena

Cherries are amazing—in form, in taste, in color. After decades of just eating cherries straight, I realized that I hardly ever cooked with them. Why? Because they usually need to be pitted. Not having come from a baking family, I never knew cherry pitters existed until I started cooking professionally. Even then I never used one. And I never bought one to try. Why? Because I never believed it would work. But it does work. It’s like a miracle. It pops the pit right out without mutilating the fruit. Incredible.

So now I’ve finally got a cherry pitter, and the first thing I made is a clafoutis. I know traditionally you’re supposed to keep the pits in for clafoutis, but that always seemed stupid to me, so over the years I made the custardy thing with everything but cherries, even once with olives, which, perversely, I did pit, but I did that by hand, easy compared with pitting cherries by hand. But, boy, a pitted cherry clafoutis is really good.

And then a few days ago I moved on to a pitted cherry torta. The style of this tart and its technique I learned about many years ago from a recipe in one of Patricia Wells’s Provence books.  I was drawn to it chiefly because the dough was a pat-in-the-pan cookie type. No rolling, no chilling. Her recipe, I believe, called for apricots. I’ve made so many improvisations on it in the last decade that I can no longer remember what the true, first version was, but this rendition has morphed into my standard.  You can do it with other types of fruit, but pitting the cherries is more than half the fun.

Note: Lemon verbena leaves can be a bit tough, so if I’m not planning to strain them out of the sauce, I mince them, as I did here.

Cherry Torta with Lemon Verbena

You’ll want a  9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

For the cherries:

2 pints sweet cherries
1 tablespoon sugar
A splash of limoncello

For the crust:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon limoncello
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
1½ cups regular flour
A handful of blanched almonds, finely ground

For the cream:

¾ cup crème fraîche, at room temperature
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon limoncello
½ teaspoon vanilla
The grated zest from 1 small lemon
6 or 7 lemon verbena leaves, minced
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon of regular flour

Pit the cherries with a cherry pitter (see how tidy it is?). Stick them in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle them with about a tablespoon of sugar and a splash of limoncello, and let them sit for about an hour so they can let off excess juice (save the juice to add to a vodka and soda, a little bonus for the cook).

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, and then let it cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pour the butter into a medium-size bowl. Use your fingers to wipe the remaining butter out of the pan, and grease your tart pan with it.

Add the rest of the crust ingredients to the bowl, except for the almonds, and mix them together until you have a moist crumbly mass. If it seems dry, add a few more drops of limoncello. Press the mass into the tart pan. It should make a quite thin crust. Stick the tart pan in the oven for about 15 minutes, just to set the crust a bit. It should get a little puffy and lightly golden at the edges. Sprinkle the almonds evenly inside the crust.

Put all the ingredients for the cream in a food processor, and pulse a few times until they’re well blended.

Arrange the cherries in the tart pan in one layer. If any don’t fit, eat them. Starting in the middle of the tart, slowly pour the cream over the cherries, taking care not to pour any over the edge of the crust (if by chance it looks like you have too much, just hold some back).

Bake until the crust is lightly browned and the cream has set, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the tart cool, and then sprinkle it with powdered sugar.

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French Breakfast Radishes, by Felicity House.

Recipe below: Radish and Cucumber Salad with Burnet and Anchovy Vinaigrette

I feel I achieve a small hit of magic when I combine a few raw seasonal ingredients into a successful plate of food. To me cucumbers and radishes have always seemed right together. They’re both a little bitter and burpy. But I made some little cucumber and radish combinations and thought, something is missing here. It turned out they reminded me of the puntarella salads I’ve eaten many times in Rome, always with anchovies. So I added anchovies. I wasn’t sorry.

I had something else in mind for this dish, too. When I first started my herb garden up here in Rhinebeck four springs ago, I had never heard of salad burnet, but when I was choosing starter plants, I noticed a strange looking thingy where I bought herbs, a plant that grew in a star pattern flat across the ground. I had to get it. I didn’t realize salad burnet tasted like cucumber until I got it home. I’m so glad the plant found me. It comes back bigger and weirder every spring. It’s wonderful added to green salads, but also scattered over grilled fish at the last minute. It also makes a fantastic compound butter, which is great on fish or melted over vegetable kebabs. Burnet is nice with summer tomatoes, too. It doesn’t love being cooked to death; it wants to be raw, so I always add it to a hot dish at the last minute. And here’s a bonus: It makes the best flavored vinegar I’ve ever had, up there even with tarragon. I make a bottle every spring, usually with rice wine vinegar as the base, but good white wine or champagne vinegar works fine, too. I just shove a palmful of burnet sprigs into a bottle of vinegar and let it sit for about a week or so. Simple but excellent as can be. I used it here to double boost the dish’s cucumber flavor. All good hot weather magic.

Radish and Cucumber Salad with Burnet and Anchovy Vinaigrette

(Serves 4)

6 or 7 spring radishes (I used the long French breakfast variety), cut into thin rounds
2 English cucumbers, stripe-peeled and cut into thin rounds
1 spring onion, cut into thin rounds, using all the tender green part
4 or 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, well minced
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (or burnet vinegar if you can make it)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper
A handful of tender salad burnet sprigs

Lay the radish slices and the cucumber slices out on separate paper towels. Sprinkle them lightly with salt, and let them sit for about 10 minutes to sweat out some moisture. Pat them down to blot off moisture. Then lay them out on a platter in a nice looking pattern, any that appeals to you. Scatter on the onion.

Put the minced anchovy in a small bowl, and add the vinegar, giving it a good stir. The anchovies will start to dissolve a little. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and stir it around. Taste. You might need more vinegar, and, depending on your anchovies, you could need a pinch of salt.

Drizzle the anchovy dressing over the salad, and then grind on some fresh black pepper. Arrange the burnet sprigs on top. Serve right away.

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Women with Fish

What I really want isn’t fish.

It’s bread.

When I wake up what I always want

Isn’t fish.

It’s bread.

As the day goes by I think of

All the forms bread can take.

And what I really want is a baguette.

More than anything.

This fish is a beauty.

But it isn’t bread.

If I pray hard enough,

I’m hoping,

I can transform this fish into bread.

What I really want,

More than anything,

Is a baguette.

Bring to me a baguette,

And I’ll bring to you always

My lasting peace.

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Asparagus, Steel, Rubber, by Jonathan Pocock.

Recipe below: Asparagus Soup with Dill and Ramps

Every spring I look forward to making smooth soups with whatever excellent green stuff shows up at the market. The other day I found asparagus, ramps, and dill, so I had a general idea what the result was going to be. The initially gave me pause, being an herb I don’t use much and definitely not a flavor from my Southern Italian childhood. But I like it from time to time, especially in a Greek spinach pie. It seems to work well with uniquely assertive green vegetables such as asparagus, and it also can act, as in this case, as a leveler to the garlicky oniony flavor of ramps.

I love just about all puréed green soups, hot or cold, but a depressing problem can arise with them. They often go olive green, or even gray. Sometimes it helps to preblanch and then cold shock the vegetables before you start in with the actual soup cooking. I’ve tried that with asparagus, but the bright color didn’t hold once the vegetable went tender. What I did do here was blanch the dill and the leafy ramp tops, locking in their color and adding them toward the end. That worked somewhat.

I didn’t add any cream to this soup. Instead I finished it off with a drizzle of good olive oil. I really like the flavor blend here. I ate it both hot and, the next day, cold. It was good both ways. If you can’t find ramps, try getting your hands on a few young spring scallions, and use the entire things. I’d say two or three would be about right for this.

Asparagus Soup with Dill and Ramps

(Serves 4)

6 or 7 ramps
About 6 big dill sprigs, plus a handful of sprigs for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped, plus the leaves
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into cubes
A big bunch of local asparagus (about 1½ pounds), trimmed of its tough ends
¼ teaspoon fennel pollen
A few scrapings of fresh nutmeg
¼ cup dry vermouth
2 cups light chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
A few drops of rice wine vinegar

The first thing you’ll want to do is separate the white ramp bulbs from the leafy ramp tops. Slice the bulbs, and give the leaves a rough chop.

Set up a medium pot of water, and bring it to a boil. Add a little salt. Throw in the ramp tops and the dill (not the sprigs, to be used for garnish), and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain into a colander, and then run cold water over everything to set the color.

In a good-size soup pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the ramp bulbs, the celery and its leaves, the potato, and the asparagus. Season with salt, the fennel pollen, and the nutmeg, and sauté until everything is well coated with oil and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the vermouth, and let it bubble for a few seconds. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Let cook, uncovered, at a low boil for about 5 minutes. Now add the blanched ramp tops and dill, and continue cooking until it’s all just tender, probably about another 8 minutes, adding additional water if needed. Turn off the heat, and let sit for about 10 minutes so all the flavors can blend.

Purée the soup in a food processor, and then return it to a clean pot. Add the butter, and season with black pepper and a little more salt, if needed. Taste to see if you might need a few drops of rice wine vinegar to bring up all the flavors (I did). Add additional water if needed to get a consistency you like. I like my greens soups a bit loose.

You can now reheat the soup and serve it hot, each bowl drizzled with good olive oil and finished with a scattering of fresh dill, or you can chill it and serve it cold. Both will be good.

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Still Live with Favas, by Catherine Abel.

This isn’t a recipe so much as it is a reminder. Recipes are often like that for me, just notes to wake up memories, telling me something like, I haven’t made that in a while, but now that I think of it, I want to taste it again. So I’m hoping this will remind you to eat fava beans soon. Their season is now. They are admittedly a lot of work. In fact I got so burnt out from shucking, blanching, and then peeling them during my restaurant days that I thought I’d never prepare them again. But here I’m not talking crateloads of them, like when I was a cook a Le Madri, but only a big bagful. At Le Madri we weren’t allowed to Zen out during the task. We had to stay alert, and we had to be really fast. At home you can Zen all you want and take your time. I brought my load out of the kitchen and into the living room, where I peeled while chatting with my husband about the George Floyd trial, not a joyful subject, but with my anger escalating the work went fast.

Caciocavallo di Castelfranco in Miscano.

In Tuscany fava beans are often paired with young pecorino cheeses. That is a beautiful thing. I had on hand a big wedge of Silano caciocavallo, from Calabria. It’s one of my favorite cheeses. Sweet, bitter, soft textured. Good caciocavallo is made throughout Southern Italy, and especially in my ancestral town of Castelfranco in Miscano, on the border of Puglia and Campania. Both Silano and the Castelfranco are PDO cheeses, protected designation of origin, made from cow’s or sheep’s milk or a mix of both. In the fall I serve caciocavallo with pears. But springtime is for fava beans, so that’s where it landed now. Here’s what you’ll want to do to make this salad for four people.

Buy about 2 pounds of fava beans. Shuck them. Set up a big pot of water, and bring it to a boil. Put the favas in the water, and blanch them for about 10 seconds. Pour them into a colander, and run cold water over them until they’re cool. Now, and here comes the tedious part, with your thumbnail puncture each fava to split the skin near the seam, and then squeeze out the bright green, now skinless, bean into a large bowl. Do this with all the beans.

Take about ½ pound of caciocavallo, remove its waxy surface, and cut it into small cubes, about the size of the beans. Add them to the bowl. Drizzle on a good amount of your best olive oil, at least ¼ cup. I used Ravida, a really fine Sicilian oil. Add a little salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a few drops of rice wine vinegar (very little), and give everything a gentle toss. Slice about 10 spearmint leaves into chiffonade, and scatter them over the top. I like to serve this with good Italian bread, usually piling up the salad on a slice and spooning on any oil remaining in the bowl. This is best with a glass of Southern Italian rosato. I especially like Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines.

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My Easter Pastiera

Recipe below: My Easter Pastiera

Last summer, in June, right in the middle of the hot-weather Covid shutdown, my cat Buddy died. A terrible thing. We buried him in a little round garden behind our house, now known as Buddy’s garden. Fred found a narrow piece of slate in the woods to serve as a gravestone. Several years ago I had planted lots of flower bulbs back there, but due to crazy deer action, and probably other critters, ground hogs, rabbits, not sure, I never saw a flower. They were eaten down to the base before they had a chance.

This spring I bought some good deer repellent and doused the area. Now we have white and purple crocuses blossoming up all around Buddy’s grave. And all my other bulbs, daffodils and double-petal tulips and irises, are also coming through the ground and will have the chance to flower. This is the best Easter present. A rebirth in the prettiest way.

My pantheistic Easter solely concerns awakening, of the earth and of me, which I need more than usual this year, after the months of excessive wine drinking and shut-in life. I always mark the celebration by making a pastiera, the Southern Italian ricotta and grain pie, full of eggs and the Arab scents of orange flower water and cinnamon.  I’ve never before posted a recipe for it, feeling that each Easter I make it slightly differently, but this year I’m so happy with how it came out, I’m sharing it with all my cooking friends.

Happy rebirth to everyone.

My Easter Pastiera

I used a 9-inch pie pan this time around.

For the pasta frolla:

2½ cups regular flour, plus a little more for rolling
A big pinch of salt
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
The grated zest from 1 large lemon
1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus a little more for buttering the pan
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
About 2 tablespoons dry vermouth, maybe a bit more

For the farro mixture:

¾ cup farro
2 cups whole milk
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon regular sugar

For the rest of the filling:

2 cups whole milk ricotta
¾ cups powdered sugar
1 large egg, plus 2 eggs yolks
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The grated zest from 1 large lemon
2 heaping tablespoons orange marmalade


One egg whisked with a little water, to serve as an egg wash

To make the pasta frolla, pour the flour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the salt, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon zest, and give it a few pulses, just to blend everything. Add the butter, and pulse a few more times, breaking the pieces up a bit. Add the eggs and the vermouth, and do a few more pulses, just until it forms a crumbly ball. If it seems too dry, add a drizzle more vermouth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work area, and give it a few quick kneads. Then press it together, and wrap it in plastic. Stick it in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you roll it out. That will make it easier to roll.

To prepare the farro mixture, pour the ingredients into a small saucepan. Cook them over medium heat until the grains are tender, about 15 minutes. If there’s still milky liquid, drain it.

To continue with the filling, put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked farro and all the other ingredients. Mix well, and give it a taste to see if you might need more sugar or something.

Set the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the pie pan.

Take the dough from the refrigerator. If it’s only been in there for an hour or so, it should be ripe for rolling. If it’s super cold, you may need to let it warm for a little time. In any case, flour a work area. Cut off and set aside about ¼ of the dough to use for lattice strips. Roll the big portion out into a large round, and then drape it into the pie pan, pressing it down around the edges. Stick that in the refrigerator while you make the lattice.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough into a rectangle about the length of the pie pan. With a sharp knife, cut 8 approximately ½-inch-thick strips. If you don’t get 8 strips, don’t worry. You’ll be able to fashion a few more from the pie pan trimming.

Take the pie pan from the refrigerator, and pour in the filling. If it looks like you have too much filling, hold back on some. You can use any extra for the small crustless custard, sticking it in the oven along with the pastiera. Brush the edges of the dough all around with the egg wash. Arrange the lattice strips criss-crossed over the top, pressing them down all around the edge so they adhere. You can weave them in and out in the more sophisticated way, or just cheat and lay them across one another.

Now trim all around the pie so you have a neat round. If you need more lattice strips, you can make them with the trimming. Brush the lattice and all around the edges with the egg wash.

Put the pastiera in the oven, and bake it until it’s nicely golden all over, about 40 minutes.

Let it rest about an hour before serving. I find prosecco an especially good match for this beautiful pie.

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Recipe below: Scacciata with Broccoli Rabe, Caciocavallo, and Black Olives

I’ve never met a savory vegetable torta I didn’t like. I keep coming back to them. They’re my idea of a perfect food. They can be knife-and-fork or portable, but they’re always contained. For me the best ones include greens and herbs, preferably with a bitter element tucked in, too. Anyone who’s been following my cooking over the years knows my love of torte filled with Swiss chard or escarole, punctuated with salty or sweet, such as capers, olives, anchovies, or, at the other end of the spectrum, pancetta, pine nuts, pistachios, raisins, bit of dates.

My olive oil and wine torta crust is a legend in my own mind, my go-to encasement for a savory torta. But this time I fashioned a Sicilian scacciata, a double-crusted filled pie that takes a yeast dough and usually semolina flour, plus either lard or olive oil. It’s basically a flat calzone, most often made with vegetables, depending on where in Sicily the cook lives. Cauliflower, eggplant and tomato, potato, and broccoli are all typical. I chose broccoli rabe for its beloved bitterness, adding anchovy, olives, pine nuts, fennel seeds, caciocavallo, marjoram, scallion, and garlic—a whole pantry load. I’ve also made one using cauliflower instead of the broccoli rabe. It was good, but not as good.

I’ve seen these things done round on a pizza tray or, my preference, rectangular on a half sheet pan. You should roll the dough thin, which can be a bit tricky except that you can easily patch up little holes with a pinch of the fingers.

Scacciata with Broccoli Rabe, Caciocavallo, and Black Olives

For the dough:

1½ cups regular flour
1 cup semolina flour, plus a little more for kneading and rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle mixed with a little water to brush on top

For the filling:

2 bunches broccoli rabe, the thick stems removed
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions, cut into thin rounds, including some of the tender green part
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
A palmful of pine nuts
1 large fresh garlic clove, thinly sliced
A palmful of fennel seeds, ground
Aleppo pepper
About 1 cup grated caciocavallo cheese  
A handful of black olives, pitted (I used the shriveled Moroccan type)
A few large sprigs of marjoram, the leaves chopped

To make the dough, put both flours in the bowl of a food processor. Add the salt, sugar, and yeast, and pulse a few times to distribute everything. Add the warm water and the olive oil, and pulse a few more times until it all comes together in a sticky ball.

Sprinkle a little semolina on a work surface, and tilt out the dough. Knead the dough until it’s nice and smooth, adding more semolina if necessary to prevent sticking, probably 7 or 8 minutes. Drizzle a little oil into a big bowl. Turn the dough over in the oil to coat it well. Cover the bowl with a kitchen bowl and let it rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Then punch the dough down, cut it in half and let it rise again for about a half hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. While the dough is doing its second rise, set up a large pot of water, add some salt, and bring it to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe, and blanch for about 4 minutes. Drain it into a colander, and run cold water over it to stop the cooking and set its lovely green color. Squeeze as much water out of it as possible, and then chop in well.

In a large sauté pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallion, anchovy, pine nuts, garlic, and ground fennel seeds, and sauté until just fragrant, only about a minute (you want to keep the flavors fresh). Turn off the heat, and add the broccoli rabe, seasoning it with salt and Aleppo, mixing everything around well, and adding another little drizzle of fresh olive oil. Let it cool for a few minutes, and then add the cheese, the olives, and the marjoram, mixing well.

Coat a half sheet pan with olive oil. Roll one of the dough pieces out into a large rectangle, and drape it onto the sheet pan, pressing in out to the edges as best you can. Spoon on the filling, leaving about a half inch all around. Roll out the other piece of dough, and drape it over the top, pressing down around the edges to seal it. Trim all around to make a nice uniform shape. Next crimp the edges to help seal it further and make it look pretty and finished. Make a bunch of little air holes on the top (I used a barbecue skewer), and brush the top with the olive oil water mix. Bake until the top is nicely golden, about 20 minutes.

You can serve the scacciata, hot, warm, or at room temperature. I like to cut it into squares.

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