September Food Notes

september 2022 – feast of san gennaro

Introduction

Little Italy in Manhattan was an important place to my family. It was where my grandmother first lived when she arrived from Italy with her family. At the time, it was a significant cultural and economic center in NYC encompassing roughly 40 city blocks. By the time I started coming to visit the city in the early 80’s it had shrunk to about a dozen blocks. Today the neighborhood is a 6 block stretch on Mulberry Street. I got to know about the neighborhood via the Feast of San Gennaro. I would come visit with my parents and brothers. The stretch would transform to a week-long festival and walking feast. I loved it. The streets were chock full with carts and trucks selling food, games, trinkets and rides. You could hear Dean Martin blasting from loudspeakers. You could smell the zeppole (fried dough), the sausage & peppers, the baked ziti, from 6 blocks in any direction. Over the years the festival changed, or I changed, or both. It shrunk and became less of a celebration OF the neighborhood really and more of a bizarro carnival in a neighborhood that seemed to over simplify “Italianness”.

 

The celebration as I grew up was a celebration of where my family is from, what they went through and was an opportunity to think about them and their passage. This is what I carry with me when we celebrate San Gennaro. I want to share our versions of some of that food. If you want to try and relive the feel of the festival do the following: -Play a San Gennaro Fest playlist as loud as your speakers will play them -Hang up a few strands of flickering string lights in your kitchen -Proceed with cooking the Fusilli alla Vodka

What We Have Prepared For You This Week:

Fusilli alla Vodka Pasta: 

The beautiful curly corkscrews are a perfect foil for the rich, creamy tomatoey sauce.  Fusilli contains gluten and is best used in 1 week refrigerated.  Vodka Sauce contains nightshade, allium and capsicum and is best used in 1-2 days refrigerated.

Creste di Gallo with house garlic sausage and mushroom conserva: 

This is best or most appropriate way we could think of to bring some of the flavors and aromas of sausage & peppers into your home . Creste di Gallo contains gluten and is best used in 1 week refrigerated.   Sausage & mushroom ragu contains dairy, pork and capsicum.  Best used in 1 week refrigerated.

Pork Stock:  

A rich aromatic stock made in house to give the Creste di Gallo pasta its signature unctuousnessl.  Contains pork and is best for one week refrigerated.

Grana Padano:

Fresh grated finishing cheese for both pastas.  Contains dairy and is best used in 1 month refrigerated.

Fresh Mozzarella alla Caprese:

Ripe tomatoes marinated in a bright vinaigrette, with basil and the fresh mozzarella we made for you this morning.  Mozzarella contains dairy and is best for 3-4 days refrigerated.  Caprese set contains nightshade and is best used in 1 week refrigerated.

Giardiniera:

A classic pickled mix of cauliflower, carrot, celery and onion.  Contains capsicum and is best used in 3 months refrigerated.

 

Cooking Instructions: 

Here are some recipes for this meal. I would like to note though that these ingredients are absolutely for you to experiment with. Feel free to add on to them, or even just use the ingredients one by one in your own cooking!

Fusilli alla Vodka Pasta

(Plan for 6 minutes preparation)

  • Bring 4+ qts of water to a boil in a deep pot. Salt the water with three big pinches of kosher salt. 
  • Drop pasta in the water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente.  Put a medium saute pan on medium-high heat and add the Vodka sauce.  Bring to a simmer, then add the cooked pasta and toss until the sauce is reduced and clinging to the pasta, about two minutes.  Add pasta water as needed to adjust for consistency.  Divide into plates or bowls. Garnish with half of the grana padano.  You could add a little chile flake or parsley here if you want to kick it up a bit, but it certainly does not need it. 

Creste di Gallo with house garlic sausage and mushroom ragu (without sausage for vegetarians but the technique does not change) 

(Plan for 7 minutes active preparation)

    • Bring 4 qts of water to a boil in a deep pot. Salt the water with three big pinches of kosher salt. 
    • Drop your pasta in the water and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, warm a medium saute pan over medium high heat, and add 2oz of pasta water.  Add the sausage-mushroom ragu to the pan.  After 2 minutes, add the pork stock & let reduce for a minute.  Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Give a few tosses and allow the sauce to cling to the noodles.  Divide into bowls.  Top with half of the grana padano and enjoy!

As always, thank you for joining us on our regional adventures through Italy…excited to see where next month takes us!