The Italian Cuisine I Love – Cavolo Nero with Chickpeas and Bacon

The original recipe for this used escarole.  I’ll admit I wasn’t entirely sure what that is.  Cook’s Thesaurus said that spinach or rocket could be substituted, so of course I used something completely different.  Cavolo Nero, or Tuscan Black Cabbage is an ingredient I love.  It is at the peak of its season at the moment so I substituted it for the green in this.  As the leaves are a lot tougher than spinach or rocket (or possibly escarole)  I adjusted the cooking times accordingly.

The other change I made to the original recipe, with full apologies to Jules J, was that it originally was a soup.  I wanted it as a side dish so I decreased the amount of stock I  added back in my version.  If you want it as a soup, you will need to add 2-4 cups of stock where I have placed the asterisk in the recipe below.

This was, awesome.  I have a very fussy easter for  a husband, and it is not often he asks for second helpings of sides, particularly ones that are vegetable heavy.  Maybe it was the bacon in this but he not only had seconds, he took the last little bit into work for his lunch the next day!

500 grams eacarole / cavolo nero / greens of your choice

2 cups chicken stock

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

1/3 cup lean bacon, diced

1  can chickpeas

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp basil

2 tbsp grated parmesan

Trim cavolo nero.  Discard tough ends.  Chop into slices about 1 cm thick.

Put chicken stock in a saucepan.  Heat  to boiling.  Add cavolo nero.   If there is not enough stock, top up with water until leaves are just covered.

Cover and cook until crisp/tender.

Drain and reserve cooking liquid.

Saute bacon in a heavy saucepan, add onion, garlic, spring onions, and saute until soft but not browned.  Add the chickpeas and cavolo nero and a few spoonfuls* of the cooking liquid.

Warm through.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.


The Italian Cuisine I Love – Rolled Breast Of Chicken

You may recall this photo from the first post on the Italian cuisine I love.  It’s one o f the photos supplied by the Ruffino Wine Company and one of my favourites from the book.  I made the Rolled Breast of Chicken and it was delicious.  This is a great meal when served with the following recipe for Cavolo nero, and of course some Italian wine!

Rolled Breast of Chicken.

  • 2 tbsp onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 sweet italian sausages (I  used spicy…because some like it hot!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt & pepper

Cut the chicken breast horizontally in half.

Heat the oil in a skillet, add garlic and onion and saute or 1 minute.  Strip sausage out of the casing, add to skillet and cook until well browned, breaking up any lumps with a fork.

Remove sausage, onion and garlic with a slotted spoon and discard all but one tablespoon of fat from the pan.

Mix sausage, onion and garlic with breadcrumbs, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper and put a pat of this stuffing on  each of the chicken pieces.

Roll them up, tuck in the ends and secure with toothpicks or string.  Add butter to skillet, saute the chicken rolls until browned on all sides – two or three minutes.

Remove rolls from skillet to a hot serving platter  and remove thread or toothpicks.  Add wine to skillet, delglaze quickly and pour sauce over rolls.

My Version

Rolled Breast of Chicken

The Italian Cuisine I Love – Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes 

These would be great for lunch or a light summer supper.  They are perfect for a hot day as there is no cooking!!!!

They would also be really cute if you made them for a tea party or as a finger food using cherry tomatoes and piping the mixture in.

4 firm ripe tomatoes
1 cup canned tuna
3/4 cup pimento stuffed olives, chopped
2 tbsp grated onion’
1 tbsp parsley, minced
1 tsp capers, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, mashed
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chives

Cut the top off the tomatoes, hollow out carefully.

Mash tuna  and combine with all oth er ingredients except mayonnaise and chives.

Mix well.

Add enough mayonnaise to bind the mixture.

Fill the tomato shells and sprinkle with chives.

Chill before serving.

Food For Lovers – Kelly Brodsky (1973)

Published in 1973,  Food For Lovers  is quite possibly the kookiest book I have ever read.  The book is broken into 15 sections, each of which is based on a different type of man and the food an aspiring seductress should cook for him if she wants to win his affections.

The main problem of the book that the descriptions of each of these men are so horrible that I can’t think of why anyone in their right mind would want to be in the same room as them let alone seduce them.

Take this, from the introduction to Jack Snack:

Wow. One day my Prince will come.  And he will  be a dreary non-event couch potato.  Although, in comparison to some of the other types mentioned, the boring (but benign) Jack Snack actually comes up sounding like a winner.  He’s certainly preferable to Greek God Rod:

Dreary tv man is starting to look pretty good by comparison isn’t he?

Then there’s Professor Repressor:

At best, he sounds like a pervert.  At worst, a sex offender.

If you find yourself attracted by such a specimen, I would suggest you you seek professional help.

Brodsky suggests you whip him up a bowl of borscht, followed by  braised wine-steeped beef and an apple strudel.

As if these lesss than appealing descriptions aren’t bad enough, they are combined with some of the creepiest drawings I have ever seen.

This for example is the picture of Willy Wolfe.  He looks like he’s just slipped a date rape drug into that glass of wine.

Then there’s Gadabout Guy.

Now, in my mind a gadabout guy is a handsome, debonair, cultured ladykiller, who spends his time flitting from cocktail party to sexy soiree to a jazz club in Paris in the 1950’s.  He’s James Bond, he’s Cary Grant, he’s Alain Delon….

Brodsky’s version:

Uncannily similar aren’t they?

However, as we all know the proof of the cookbook is neither in the bizarre text or the even weirder drawings; it is in the eating.  Stay tuned for The Food For Lovers Love Feast…

The Italian Cuisine I Love – Jules Bond (1977)

Move over Ryan Gosling there’s a new man in my life.

I’m totally in love  with Jules J. Bond, the author of  The Italian Cuisine I Love.   For anyone (like me) who had never heard of Jules J. Bond before he was a:

“Widely travelled newspaper correspondent, author of cookbooks, food columnist, lecturer and well-known in gourmet circles.  He is a…Officer Commandeur of the Confrérie du Tastevin, Commandeur de Bordeaux, Member of the Wine and Food Society, the Escoffier Society and of the prestigious Club des vingt-six”

During the war he served as part of the Psychological Warfare Detachment which could make him a man who stared at goats.  Or a spy….J Bond?  Coincidence? I prefer to think not.

How suave can one man be?    Imagine being a guest at one of his dinner parties.  There would be great food, fantastic wine.   I bet he not only had a story or two to tell but that he also told them in a delightfully witty and urbane  manner.   And, should assassins  burst in and take you hostage during dinner, he would  have taken them down using nothing but an egg beater.  That is my type of man!

This is a cracker of  a cookbook too.  I picked it up for 50 cents at my local charity shop.  It contains over a hundred recipes so the bang for buck ratio is amazing.  The recipes themselves are a solid mix of Italian dishes from antipasto to dessert, ranging through soups, pasta, pizza, various meats and vegetables.  There is nothing odd about any of them – no odd uses of pineapple, no MSG  It’s almost disappointing.

There is a quirky side to The Italian Cuisine I Love and that is in the wonderful photos.  I noticed that a large number of these featured at least one bottle of wine and was beginning to thing that maybe Jules J. had a bit of a problem with the booze.  No, the photos were just supplied by the wine maker. And they are great photos too.  The Ruffino wine Company went to some trouble here.  Look at the trinket box in the photo for the Spring lamb, the  inexplicable use of corn in the picture of the rolled chicken breast, the bottle of wine somewhat coyly peeking out from behind an apple in the spaghetti carbonara picture.  This isn’t just advertising.  It’s art!

Other photos within the book, a selection of which are featured below, were supplied by the National Macaroni Institute.  Yes.  There was a National Macaroni Institute.  Who knew?  But again these are great photos.  I particularly love the one on the right.  That red soup tureen is awesome.  I’m searching for that and the matching bowls on ebay as we speak!  I’m not so sure about the lady with the tiny head in the picture of the spaghetti with veal and green peppers but, hey, at least they’ve tried.

The same can’t be said about the photo supplied by the Italian Tourist Office which is featured both on the back cover of, and within, the book entitled “Bowl of Fruit.”  Now, in all fairness The Italian Cuisine I Love does contain a recipe called “Fresh Fruit Bowl” but the contents of the recipe and this  photo bear little (or no)  resemblance to each other.  It’s just a  random photo of fruit.  I don’t know what the Italian Tourist office were thinking.   Why did they even have a photo of a bowl of fruit?  What kind of marketing strategy is that?  “Come to Italy.  We have apples.”  Seriously?  Is that the best you could do Italian Tourist office?

To add insult to injury, the fruit in the photo is not even in a bowl.  It’s in a basket.  Poor form, Italian Tourist Office.  Lift your game.

The Italian Cuisine I Love is one  of a series of books written by Jules J. Bond.  The series also included the Chinese, French, Hungarian, Jewish, Mid-Eastern, Mexican, Spanish and Viennese cuisines that JJB loved.  He was kind of slutty in his food loving.

Unfortunately for me Jules J.  passed away in 1993,  so I guess you can stop your sobbing, Gosling, you’re still top of the list.  But  until I found out that Jules J.  was no more (and even if he was, he’d be 97), he was giving you a run your for money.  Take heed.  Don’t be the Italian Tourist Office Ryan, be the National Macaroni Institute.

Just in case you were wondering.  The J stands for Jerome.

In the next few posts I’ll be cooking some of  the Italian food JJB loved…not including a bowl of fruit.

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