January 06, 2005

Anna Klinger's Malfatti

This is the recipe for the Malfatti at Al Di La -- easily one of my favorite foods in the world -- as posted to the New York Times. Time consuming but worthwhile, especially for company.

1 pound ricotta
Kosher salt
4 bunches Swiss chard (about 4 pounds)
8 ounces butter
1/4 cup flour, plus more for shaping
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
Freshly ground black pepper
24 fresh sage leaves
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Drain the ricotta in a sieve lined with cheesecloth overnight in the refrigerator. Measure out 11/4 cups.

2. Bring a large pot of water, heavily seasoned with salt, to a boil. Trim the chard, removing all stems and large ridges. Add half to the boiling water and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Fish out and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Repeat.

3. Squeeze out chard with your hands. On a dish towel, spread the chard in a circle the size of a pie. Roll up the towel and have someone help you twist the ends to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Pulse in a food processor until fine. Squeeze out in a dish towel once more, until very dry. (You will have about 1 cup.)

4. Melt half the butter. Mix chard and ricotta. Add melted butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1 heaping teaspoon salt and nutmeg and mix again. Drop in egg yolks and egg, season with pepper and stir again. Sprinkle a cutting board with flour. Shape into 1 ounce balls, about 1 tablespoon each, dropping them on the cutting board. You should have 25 to 30.

5. Put a teaspoon of flour into a narrow wineglass. Drop in a ball and swirl until it forms an oval. Repeat. (You may need to change the glass.) You may freeze them at this point.

6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the malfatti and cook until they float, about 8 minutes. (If frozen, 10 minutes.) Put remaining butter in a small saute pan and heat until bubbling, shaking the pan. When it smells nutty, add sage and cook 30 seconds. Season with salt.

7. Drain malfatti and place on plates. Spoon on the butter and sage. Grate Parmesan over each plate.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings as a light main course; 6 to 8 as a first course.

Mom's Chicken With Prosciutto and Fontina

This is pretty easy, since it's really about good ingredients more than anything else. From start to finish, it shouldn't take more than half an hour or so, making it a perfect candidate for that 30-minute meals show on the food network.

You'll need:
Boneless chicken cutlets (I'd recommend going for the good stuff, like Belle & Evans or Murray's or from the guys at the market on Arthur Avenue)
Prosciutto (maybe 1/3 of a pound?)
Fontina cheese
Locatelli Romano cheese
Olive oil
Salt / Pepper
Chicken broth
Parsley if you like parsley

First off, the chicken should be pounded thin and any extra fat should be cut off. This is where those guys from Arthur Avenue come in -- if you get the chicken there, it's all set to go.

Put some flour in a shallow bowl, and heat a pan on your stove, on medium heat or so. When the pan is good and hot, add some olive oil to it.

One by one, you'll want to dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour and then place in the pan. Be careful to shake any excess flour off the chicken before it goes in the pan, and don't drop them in there or you'll splatter oil all over yourself, which won't feel good.

The chicken cooks quickly, maybe a few minutes on each side (it depends on the thickness of the piece), but you want to brown them just a bit. Season each cutlet with salt and pepper.

You'll probably need to keep adding oil to the pan as you cook the chicken. When a piece is done, move it to a baking pan.

Once all the chicken's been browned and placed on your baking sheet, you're ready for stage two. Add a slice or two of prosciutto to each piece, plus some fontina on top of the prosciutto, and a splash of chicken broth on top. Then, sprinkle the Locatelli Romano across each cutlet.

Here's where you can refrigerate the whole mess until you're 10 minutes away from eating. So if you're having a dinner party or like to prepare your meals waaaaay in advance, this is a good dish for you.

Once you're ready to eat, preheat the oven to around 425 or so, and cook the cutlets for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure you don't burn the cheese.

That's pretty much it. Don't forget or skimp on the chicken broth because the chicken will probably be on the dry side if you do. Once again, it's really all about the ingredients, so this whole meal is a perfect excuse for a trip to Arthur Avenue.

Oh, the chopped-up parsley goes on when you're adding the chicken broth, if you're into parsley. If you're not, you certainly won't miss it.

Derik's Pesto

I haven't tried this pesto on anything except my finger, but I bet it would be good on pasta, salmon, maybe even a piece of bread. I made a huge batch of it once (and one time only) so hopefully my memory still serves me correctly.

You need:
Grated Parmesan
Lemon Juice
Salt / Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pistachio Oil (if you can find it)

First you want to toast the pistachios in the oven for a bit. You can season them with salt and pepper before you pop them in the oven if you want.

After the pistachios are good and toasted (but not burned! careful you don't forget about them, they're pricey), you should drop in a couple big handfuls of arugula into your cuisinart, plus the pistachio nuts, minced garlic and grated parm. Don't overfill the cuisinart or the blades won't be able to do their business.

Turn on the cuisinart and add some lemon juice and salt and pepper to the mix. Slowly add olive oil while the cuisinart is going -- that should help the blades if they're not mincing appropriately. Once they've caught, you can add another handful or two of arugula.

Keep blending, but stop every thirty seconds or so to give it a taste. You'll probably end up wanting to add more parmesan and olive oil until you've got a nice flavor and good consistency.

When all is said and done, you can drop in some of that pistachio oil that you may or may not have found at the local grocery store. If not, no worries. If yes, mazel tov. Only pulse the cuisinart for a few seconds after you've added the pistachio oil.

That should do it. I'm not sure what happens next since I've never actually eaten this stuff, but as I mentioned, you can't go wrong putting it on linguini or some salmon.