From puppies to pasta // Italian Culinary Experience

By Kris Feliz,
ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.

So let me begin by telling you that ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine near Parma, where we went after 10 weeks at ICC in New York City, is amazing. The school is full of passionate instructors who have fantastic industry experience. In addition to cooking, we take field trips, have history classes, and get to live in Italy, of course.

The classes at ALMA are so inspiring, I could go on and on about this but it really boils down to the teachers here. It’s one of the top three culinary schools in the world and I completely understand from being here why that’s so. The administration takes our educational program very seriously and the team here works like a brigade of stations all complementing each other.

I miss home, my loving network, and dog tremendously… and ramen, and chocolate chip cookies! Lol. But I forget all the time what my life was like before culinary school. I used to walk dogs and think about food, break down recipes or marinate on specialty ingredients and the science of substituting. All those years of rainy walks and snowed through dog parks, poop bags, and doggie kisses – I never thought I’d take the leap and start my program towards fulfilling my dream to be a chef.

To be in such an incredible and fulfilling program makes the sacrifice so very worth it. This is something very special about ICC.

When I first thought about Italy, I thought about its strong agro-culinary culture but living here really brings to light that there is so much more to the Italian tradition than just farming and purely good ingredients. This country is amazing! No matter where I travel everything is rich with history: historic centers, buildings, monuments and churches. It’s all about respect and beauty here.

Italian Culinary Experience

On the weekends I travel to nearby cities and it’s amazing how unique each experience is. It isn’t that expensive to travel and there is a whole new world beyond our dorms! I see history, traditions, and nature everywhere I go and it’s very beautiful here. The sweeping landscapes and vast farm country are amazing. It’s winter here now and I can only imagine how much more captivating it is during spring or summer. “Wow” is a common phrase.

Because of this experience I now understand that being a chef is much more than just cooking. It is a way of seeing things – an appreciation of sorts. A way of seeing what is special and complicated beyond simple appearances. I know now how chefs who understand and respect the essence of history and tradition become able to elevate and expand these boundaries in a groundbreaking way.

With only half of ICC’s Italian Culinary Experience program completed – I have mixed feelings of total excitement, total anxiety, and total humility at the thought of being in one of these professional kitchens. I’m throughly elated and so grateful everyday. I don’t know where I’ll be placed for stage (externship) yet, although I would LOVE to be in southern Italy – Calabria. I’ll let you know when I find out!

– Kris
Blog // Instagram

Library Notes // Lunar New Year

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey!

This year, Lunar New Year fell on the 8th of February, but if you missed it, don’t worry you’re not too far behind. In China, the full week is considered a holiday and the Lunar New Year Season will continue until February 22nd. On that day, all festivities culminate in a Lantern Festival which represents the end of the season.

There is still time to celebrate by cooking Chinese food, and we have a great selection in the library to get you started. If you are addicted to Chinese food, here are a few suggestions that are traditionally served at Lunar New Year.

Dumplings are prepared to bring in wealth and treasure, but be sure you are making them properly. Too few pleats purports poverty and a sauerkraut filling can imply a difficult future. However, filling your dumplings with cabbage and radish will bring fair skin and a gentle mood. Arrange your finished dumplings in lines rather than circles that way your life will go forward, not go around in circles.

However you prepare them, be sure to make a lot because the more dumplings you eat, the more money you will make throughout the year. In the Lucky Peach Cookbook, 101 Easy Asian Recipes, Peter Meehan offers clear and simple “Dollar Dumpling” instructions with several different fillings and the essential sauce. Says Meehan on Sauce, “Sauceless dumplings are like crying-on-the-inside kind of clowns: They look the part but something important is missing.” This book is a great jumping off point for anyone new to Asian cooking. There are recipes representing many different countries all with clear instructions and ingredients that are easy to find.

Chinese New Year Recipes Culinary Library

Another auspicious way to start your year off right is with another dim sum favorite, spring rolls. Spring Rolls are served as a wish for prosperity because they look like gold bars. Traditionally a portion would be left as temple offerings before being eaten at home. My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen: 100 Family Recipes and Life Lessons by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo includes not only a great spring roll recipe, but a whole chapter including the history and myths of Lunar New Year in her family and of course many more recipes to create a feast.

No Lunar New Year feast is complete without fish. This is because the Chinese word for fish sounds like surplus. The fish should always be the last dish with some left over and it should not be moved after being placed on the table. The two people who are seated facing the head and tail of the fish should drink together for good luck. One of my favorite Chinese cookbooks contains a classic Lunar New Year fish recipe. In the beautiful The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco, Cecilia Chiang tells her fascinating life story and illustrates each phase with recipes. Her Steamed Black Bass with Ginger and Green Onions is a Cantonese preparation perfect for finishing off the banquet.

Wondering what to serve with your meal? Chinese Wine of course! The popularity of the documentary Red Obsession has the wine world buzzing about China. What better occasion to learn more than Lunar New Year? Chinese Wine: Universe in a Bottle by Li Zhengping covers the history, varieties, legends and rituals around wine in China. So read up to make your selection, then pour up for those lucky folks staring at the fish platter.

We have these and many other excellent books focused on Chinese cooking. So stop by the library and pick up everything you need to eat, drink and be merry!

– Sara

Porcini Mushroom and Roasted Chestnut Soup

By Swarna Koneru
Professional Culinary Arts student

I am a forager by nature. Growing up, I used to get fruits, vegetables and herbs from the backyard. Nowadays, not having many options to forage in the wild I forage in the grocery stores.

Every time I see a gourmet store or an ethnic market I make sure I try to come in and learn about new ingredients and foods. Sometimes I first buy something frozen or precooked to taste, and if I like it I try to replicate it myself. I pick up unknown to me ingredients and learn more about them once I get home.

On one of my “foraging” expeditions I bumped into freshly roasted chestnuts being sold outside of the store. I immediately grabbed a bag of those. Later on a beach trip, I bought some dried porcini mushrooms from a roadside vegetable stand. I always prefer such ingredients to supermarket produce because they are minimally processed.

I combined roasted chestnuts’ delicate, sweet, and nutty flavor with the woodiness and earthiness of the porcini. This soup is a perfect winter dish!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of roasted chestnuts, peeled
  • 6 brown crimini mushrooms diced
  • 1 clove of roasted garlic (place in aluminum foil, coat in oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes)
  • grated parmesan for garnish (optional)
  • crème fraîche for garnish (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

1. Soak dried porcini in a cup of boiled water for 10 minutes. Strain and keep the liquid. Dice the porcini.
2. In a pan, melt the butter and sauté the crimini and the porcini until nicely browned.
3. Add the chestnuts and sauté a little more till they get light brown.
4. Transfer the ingredients to a blender, add garlic and make a smooth paste adding stock as needed.
5. Transfer the puree to the pan, add the stock and the reserved porcini liquid, and bring to a simmer. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and a drizzle of crème fraîche.
6. Serve with sourdough bread smeared with truffle oil and toasted in the oven at 400F for 10 minutes, then sprinkled with parmesan and roasted again till the cheese melts.

– Swarna
Blog // Facebook

Boneless Deep Fried Citrus Chicken Wings

By Chef Candy Argondizza
Vice President of Culinary and Pastry Arts.

When you’re throwing an awesome Super Bowl party, these crunchy wing bites are sure to please!

Ingredients

24 chicken wings- boned out by your butcher or follow the bone, with the tip of your boning knife, cut alongside both sides of the wing bone, then cut along the bottom of the bone, sever the bone from the joints and pull it away

2 cups of buttermilk

1 cup of flour/1 cup of cornstarch

2 tablespoons of Yuzu kosho- store bought condiment of Yuzu peel and ground chili peppers and salt

1 oz. white wine vinegar/1 oz. lime juice

1 teaspoon of honey

2 oz. evoo

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

Makes 8 servings

Procedure

  1. Marinate the boneless wings in the buttermilk for 1 hour.
  2. Mix together the Yuzu Kosho, vinegar, lime juice, and olive oil- set aside.
  3. Heat enough vegetable oil in a sauce pot, to deep fry the wings, in batches. Approx.2 quarts.
  4. Slowly bring the oil up to 350 degree temperature, on medium heat.
  5. Drain the wings and dredge in the flour/cornstarch mixture, shake off excess flour and cornstarch.
  6. Place some of the wings into the 350 degree hot oil, do not overcrowd the pot.
  7. Allow the wings to cook and become crisp and golden brown, approx. 6-8 minutes, drain on paper towels and proceed to cook the remaining wings.
  8. Once all are fried and drained, place the wings into a large bowl and toss with the Yuzu marinade.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and toss to cover the wings.
  10. Serve warm with limewedges and enjoy!

Deep fried citrus chicken wings recipe // International Culinary Center

Library Notes // New Year Resolution Reads

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Have you been sticking to your resolution? Habits can be tough to build, but the best tool for doing so is certainly knowledge. If you’re feeling unmotivated to stick to your resolution, stop by the library, we just might have something that can help.

Eat Healthy

It seems like every year come January everyone is talking about their new diet or which foods they are cutting out. If you want to eat healthy but can’t stand the thought of a diet, Clean Slate from the editors of Martha Stewart Living just might be the book for you. This book starts off with a step by step plan on how to adjust your lifestyle for a long term healthy change. It includes shopping tips, advice and meal plans followed by delicious and simple recipes. From spicy North African chicken-chickpea stew to black sea bass with barley, shiitake and edamame there is something for everyone.

If you love food too much to cut back on anything (but know that you do need to cut back on something) you’re in good company. Legendary food writer Peter Kaminsky found himself on the verge of obesity and diabetes and Culinary Intelligence chronicles his process for getting healthier. A man who has written with Francis Mallmann and Daniel Boulud can’t just give up on dining, so Kaminsky made adaptations and learned to live by what he calls “maximizing flavor per calorie.” Part memoir and part how-to guide with several recipes thrown in, Culinary Intelligence is a must read for the reformed glutton.

Learn Something New

Have you ever wondered why salt makes meat juicy or why chiles are spicy? We’re all here to cook, but how often do we think about the science behind the techniques and recipes? Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking will answer all your kitchen curiosities and then some. The book is centered on 50 major concepts that will improve your cooking. It is chock full of recipes to illustrate each concept in classic cooks fashion – with lots of illustrations and a thorough explanation.

Spend More Time with Loved Ones

The Kinfolk Table author Nathan Williams set out with the goal of offering an alternative idea of entertaining “casual, intentional, and meaningful.” To compile the book, the Kinfolk team visited the homes of a wide range of people in different locations, with different jobs and family structures. All shared their favorite recipes for small gatherings and all are simple, accessible and lovely. So invite a few friends over and try a new recipe.

We have all these books and more in the library. Stop by and take a peek! To get the latest updates follow the library on twitter @IntlCulLibrary

Gift Idea: Infused Olive Oil

By Carmela Fiorica
ICC’s International Bread Baking student

I always wanted to attend culinary school. I remember walking down Broadway and passing the school back when it was The French Culinary Institute. I’d tell myself “One day I’ll get there!”. But, life takes over, things come up and I worked in Healthcare for 20 years. But the thought of attending the school was always in the back of my mind, until finally opportunity knocked, I opened, and my “some day” finally came, and here I am!

Now I’m making bread, not just any bread, but the best! I’m being taught by an incredible chef, chef Johnson, a true master at this beautiful craft. My weeks at ICC are going by so quickly – time flies when your having fun! However, what’s going by even quicker than this, is the year. I seriously cannot believe Christmas is in just a few days!

This holiday season I decided to make and gift something edible. I thought of the ultimate, most delicious ingredient that I respect second to my family – the king of the pantry, OLIVE OIL! I’m making infused olive oil. Oh my deliciousness, this is one of the best things in life!

I grew up in a very traditional, big, loud, nutty Italian household, where food always played a big role. From the moment the day begins, we’re trying to plan our dinner menu during breakfast. Our ways of eating where a little different than those of my American friends. While our neighbors ate pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs, my mom served snails in tomato sauce, Riso con patate e cozze (rice with potatoes and mussels), or spaghetti frittata. Today we still cook our traditional recipes, but most importantly, we make sure we bring everyone to the table. Every Sunday we gather with my parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and whoever else wants to eat over.

uni

I was born in Bari, Italy. My mother is from an adorable city in Bari named Bitonto, and my father is from Catanzaro, Calabria. These two regions produce some of the most delectable foods. Every year when I go back, I feel like I enter the food heaven, as if I take my first breath all over again.

Bitonto is a very medieval city with a lot of history. Known for its focaccia with mortadella, fresh seafood (that we eat directly out of the ocean), and orecchiette with broccoli rabe, just to name a few of their specialities. It’s a city surrounded by almond trees, fig trees, and embraced with an abundance of beautiful large olive trees that are hundreds of years old. In fact, Bitonto have been given the nickname “La Citta’ delle Olive” – “The city of olives.” The aroma they give off is so ridiculously addicting, I just want to bottle it up as perfume. The smell alone indicates that this is going to be some good stuff. The color is of a beautiful dark green.

They say that the way to test if the oil is of good quality is to take a few sips of it, and if it goes down smoothly and leaves you with a tingling feeling in the back of your throat then it purely 100% olive oil.

Italy: Olive trees

Calabria is south of Bari, it’s one of the oldest regions in Italy. People of Calabria raise pigs and sheep in the mountains, catch fish along the coastline, and grow lemon trees, orange trees, prickly pears, and olive trees. This region is also known for its pepperoncino (hot pepper) soppressata (salumi), and Cippola Rossa (sweet red onions) from Tropea.

Italy almond trees

Calabria is also well-known for its olive oil which is distributed to America and all of Europe. Here in New York City, there is an Italian specialty store where my family and I have been shopping for years; they carry this delicious olive oil from Bitonto, and it’s the only one we use. My mother always says “Food is a way of life, and if you’re gonna cook, cook right, use the right olive oil and your food will sing”!

For my Christmas gifts, I purchase some cute, inexpensive glass bottles, and I fill them up with various herbs. This year I infused with rosemary, thyme, basil, and lemon zest. Then I cover the herbs with oil from Bitonto and I let the bottles rest for about 2-3 weeks. After that time, the oil has absorbed the aromatics of that particular herb and it’s ready for use. Put a bow on it, bag it up and you’re good to go!

Infused Olive Oil

Drizzle it over your salad, use for cooking with fish or meats. Sprinkle over baked potatoes, or even use as a dipping oil with some crunchy bread.

I would like to wish you all a Buon Natale, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May they be filled with lots of love, laughs, good food, good wine and the best bread and olive oil you can get your hands on.

Thanks for reading,

Carmela

Curry Guru // Indian Chai Spiced Cookies

By Swarna Koneru
Professional Culinary Arts student

Christmas is a lovely time to bake all kinds of cookies. Chai is a staple drink in India, tealeaves are produced in Darjeeling region of India, and every household has their own mix of Chai spice. I decided to make Chai Spiced Cookies flavored with Indian Tea and Chai Masala, which are perfect for dunking in your coffee or holiday drinks.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts
  • 2 Tbsp Darjeeling tea powder(finely ground)
  • 2 tsp Chai Masala

for Chai Masala:

  • 2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of black pepper powder

Culinary student blog // Chai Masala Spices

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and both kinds of sugar until the sugar has completely incorporated.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, soda, tea powder, Chai masala and keep aside.
  3. Add the egg to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the cashew pieces. Scoop cookie dough into balls with a cookie scoop and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, just until the edges start to brown. Cool for 5 minutes and store in an airtight jar.

Culinary student blog // Indian Chai Spiced Cookies

Tips:

  • You can keep your cookies soft by adding a slice of bread in the container of the cookies.
  • You can also add pistachio nuts instead of the cashews.
  • Adjust the Chai masala and tea ratio to your taste.

– Swarna
Blog // Facebook

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

culinary_gift_guide

1. Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories by Christina Tosi. Join ICC alumna Christina and her friends as they cook their way through “weaknights,” sleepovers, and late-night snack attacks to make mind-blowingly delicious meals with whatever is in the pantry.

2. The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking by Samantha Seneviratne. Our grad’s new book is filled with fascinating histories, origin stories, and innovative uses for the world’s most enticing spices.

3. Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. It’s an intimate look at the celebrity ICC Dean and the food he cooks at home with family and friends—200 recipes in all.

4. Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by the editors of Lucky Peach. These recipes hit the sweet spot between craveworthy and incredibly simple and are destined to become favorites.

5. Brunch at Bobby’s: 140 Recipes for the Best Part of the Weekend by Bobby Flay. ICC alumnus Bobby shares his simplest, most sought-after recipes—while still delivering his signature intense flavors.

6. Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto by Marc Vetri. ICC graduate shares his vast knowledge of pasta, gnocchi, and risotto in this inspiring, informative primer featuring expert tips and techniques, and more than 100 recipes.

7. ICC apparel: t-shirts, hoodies, hats with “Hard Work Tastes Good” and “I Can Cook” designs.

8. Jacques Torres Chocolate. ICC’s Dean of Pastry Arts, Jacques Torres combines traditional French techniques with his vast knowledge and passion for the culinary arts to produce luxe, creative and edgy chocolate treats inspired by the innovative spirit and energy of the city.

9. ICC Gift Certificates. Food gifts are always a hit, but a cooking class from the International Culinary Center will give family and friends valuable skills and techniques to last a lifetime! Check out ICC’s upcoming Culinary and Wine classes.

Gingerbread Cookies with a Fresh Ginger Glaze

By Julia Johnson,
Professional Culinary Arts student

Twinkling lights, crackling fires, the fragrant aroma of gingerbread baking in the oven – these are all things I associate with the holidays. And, seeing that Christmas is only just over a week away (how is that possible??), I wanted to share my go-to gingerbread cookie recipe with you. Please note that these cookies are heavy on the molasses, as I love its rich, deep flavor. This year, I drizzled the cookies with a fresh ginger glaze, which I feel adds a nice spiciness, but they are also delicious just plain. And, unlike most cookies, these are even better the day after they are made – making it even easier for you to get ahead of the game this holiday season. Hope you enjoy!

Gingerbread with ginger glaze

Gingerbread Cookies with a Fresh Ginger Glaze

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 large egg

For the glaze:

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add the molasses and egg and beat until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the spiced flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until about 1/8 of an inch thick (making sure to move the dough frequently so it doesn’t stick. Using a biscuit cutter or small glass about 2-inches in diameter, cut circles from the dough and arrange on parchment-lined sheet pans. (Excess dough can be re-rolled and cut, but may need to be refrigerated again before rolling if it gets too warm).

Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, depending on desired texture – 10 minutes will yield a chewy cookie, while 15 will yield a crunchier texture (make sure to keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn). Transfer to wire racks to cool.

While cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the ginger pieces with the heavy cream. Heat over medium-high heat until the cream just begins to bubble. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to steep for 20-30 minutes. Once steeped, transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Gingerbread cookie recipe

Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the ginger and cream mixture. Whisk until smooth. The glaze should be thick, but pourable. If too thick, add more of the ginger and cream mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Once cookies have completely cooled, drizzle with ginger glaze and allow to rest on parchment paper or a wire rack until the glaze has hardened, about 30 minutes – 1 hour.

– Julia
Blog // Instagram

Library Notes // Life is one long sheet of pasta

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Marc Vetri is 1998 alum of the ICC Art of International Bread Baking program and an Outstanding Alumni award winner of 2005. Marc is the Chef and Founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants. Marc is also known for his extensive charity work and writing.

In 1998, he and his business partner, Jeff Benjamin, opened the eponymous, fine-dining restaurant, Vetri, which propelled Marc to the culinary forefront. Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, Marc was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating.

Inspired by traditional Northern Italian osterias, Marc launched Osteria in 2007 which now boasts two locations. Amis is a Roman style trattoria, which was named one of the top 10 places for pasta in the US by Bon Appétit, features share plates of hand rolled pasta and house cured meats.

Marc Vetri at International Culinary Center FCI

Following these successes, Marc opened Alla Spina (Italian for “from the tap”) in 2012. An Italian gastro pub, the restaurant boasts 20 beers on tap including both Italian and local brews as well as pub fare. The following year, the group further expanded by opening Pizzeria Vertis which was named one of the Top 25 Best New Restaurants by GQ Magazine. This was followed by the opening of Lo Speedo, a casual eatery with an emphasis on flame cooked food in October 2014.

But Marc is not content with being a wildly successful chef. He is also passionate about giving back to his community and educating children on healthy eating. The Vetri Foundation, founded in 2009, works on several initiatives with a goal of helping the children of Philadelphia to develop healthy eating habits.

Eatiquette is a revolution for school lunch. The Vetri Foundation helps public schools to plan and execute healthy seasonal meals using fresh ingredients. Students sit at small round tables, serve each other and assist with clean up. They learn about portion control and meal preparation.

Another initiative, My Daughter’s Kitchen provides weekly after-school cooking classes to students. For middle school and high school students inspired to continue in the culinary world, the Vetri Foundation provides a thirteen-week Culinary Arts training program hosted at the public library.

Marc Vetri also writes. He is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and has published three cookbooks. Marc released Il Viaggio di Vetri: A Culinary Journey in 2008 and Rustic Italian Food in 2011.

Marc Vetri pasta cookbook

Il Viaggio includes recipes for appetizers, pasta, fish, meat and more, along with wine pairings. The book is also interspersed with Marc’s own stories and recollections of Italy. Rustic Italian Food is what Marc calls “A return to real cooking”, which includes a wide range of bread recipes, pasta, salumi, pickles and preserves among others all focused on the theme.

His most recent book, Mastering Pasta: the Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto was published just this past March. Marc opens with, “Sometimes I feel like my life is one long sheet of pasta,” and that certainly shows in Mastering Pasta. Much more than a collection of recipes, it includes his philosophy of life and the kitchen, a lengthy explanation of variations in flour and the anatomy of wheat and, of course, recipes for preparing pasta flour and instructions for shaping the final product.

Mastering Pasta

Marc decided to do the book after seeing Dr. Steven Jones of the bread lab speak on flour and wheat. He then heard similar sentiments echoed throughout Northern Italy while researching the book – fresh wheat is essential to good pasta. Marc discovered that wheat starts to lose its flavor after 48 hours. He now has a mill in his restaurant Vetri, and they are milling their own wheat.

The book also includes “Pasta Swaps” suggesting which shapes will go well with similar sauce and ingredient sets. While the book is probably ideal for a serious home cook with some pasta making experience, the background and explanations are so thorough yet easy to follow that even a complete novice could use Mastering Pasta to get started.

All three of Marcs books are available at the ICC library. Stop by and have a look!