“The melody’s in the right hand, not the left!”
I was practicing, or as my mother would say, “annihilating,” a Mozart sonata before school, before breakfast, and before I was capable of anything other than brushing my teeth. With the tenderness of Attila the Hun, Mom was clarifying how I should be playing just in case I was unclear.
OK, Attila, I’ll find that melody. I got your back. It's around here somewhere.
“You play like you’re going to a fire! SLOW DOWN!”
Frying the bacon and flopping around the kitchen floor in her signature scuffs, Mom listened carefully to every note, equipped with radar circa Soviet Union 1960, the spy who came in from the cold in suburbia. The original multi-tasker, she fried, she flopped, and she critiqued with great finesse. And frequency.
It seemed I heard more about the clunkers than the beauties, but whatever the performance, Mother made it absolutely clear how it was supposed to be done. Even if I didn’t. Play slowly. Melody in the right hand. Or left. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. This was confusing.
“Don’t just play the notes. Make ‘em SING!”
Oh yes, and don’t forget to make the notes sing.
Really. I’m eight years old and in my world of Barbies and buck teeth, the only thing that sings is Mrs. Poggenpohl’s Glee Club and Bobby Darin. Last time I looked, my fingers didn’t sing worth squat.
“Make it sing!”
Only years later did I truly understand what those words meant. And what a metaphor for life they have become. It’s the difference between “ordinary” and “spectacular.” It’s the difference between jello and gelato. Put the apple in a pie and you get my drift.
And for ABC’s new program, “The Chew,” it’s the difference between a cooking demonstration and a fiesta of culinary jubilation. Oh that does sound a bit wild, but let me tell you, when you have colorful, talented chefs, cooks and characters tossing ideas, “chewing,” chatting, chopping and bantering, the most muy fabuloso and joyous cooking party comes to life. Led by Clinton Kelly, the one guest you’d never want to leave off your list, who could make conversation with a light post if necessary, “The Chew” ignites cooking hoopla into something that comes closer to what it truly can be. Bourguignon beyond Julia.
Ahhh, I get it. They make it sing. Yes, Mom, I now smell what you’re cooking. “The Chew” makes it sing.
Once the Food Network production team lifted the “sexy” out of cooking with clever camera work, music and nimble editing, they got closer to Irma Rombauer’s tag, “the joy of cooking.” But not quite.
Honestly, if you love to cook and entertain, you understand what I mean. The minute the onions hit the olive oil, they’re not the only things sizzling in my kitchen. Aretha’s singing, Herbie Hancock’s playing, and dinner will be on the table in a few hours to make everyone smile. Brace yourself, Maria. It doesn’t get better than this.
One of the recipes recently shared by Mario Batali was “Corzetti with Green Ricotta” and it found its way into my kitchen on a cold December night. My husband is still mumbling and musing about its wonderfulness,
So here's my take on Master Batali’s creation.
Check out “The Chew.” And make the Corzetti. By the way, the Ricotta really isn’t green. But it sings, baby, it sings.
Mario Batali’s Corzetti with Green Ricotta
3 cups unbleached flour
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
Flour for rolling
This recipe calls for “Corzetti” which look like little coins or medallions. I do not own a stamp for this process, so my Corzetti are naked. Just your basic little coins, rather symbolic of the basic way I cook.
As for making pasta, it is easier than you think and utterly delicious. Try it.
Or buy it. Either way, this is delicious.
If you’re making the pasta, here’s how I do it. I place the flour in my food processor, make a little well in the middle and add the eggs and milk.
I process, pulsing, just a few times, until the mixture is granular, like coarse cornmeal.
I dump the dough out on my countertop and with my hands, push the dough together into a ball.
At this point, I cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes. This is a good time to make the Ricotta mixture which will coat the little Corzettis and make them utterly divine.
½ cup soft goat cheese
1 cup fresh ricotta, drained
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated pecorino romano
3 tablespoons marjoram (we’re not fans of this herb, so I used fresh Italian parsley) (diced – and I actually used about 4-5 T of the parsley)
3 tablespoons oregano, straight from the garden (diced)
3 tablespoons basil, straight from Trader Joe’s (shirred)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Drizzle of olive oil
In a large bowl, soften the goat cheese and mix with the ricotta, nutmeg, the pecorino romano, the herbs and the salt and pepper. To thin this mixture, you’re going to add some of the pasta water just before draining the…corzetti.
After the pasta has been resting, knead a few times and get ready to roll. Working with a piece of dough about the size of a lemon, begin to work the dough through your pasta machine. I use a Bialetti which I believe are not longer made. It’s like a traditional Atlas pasta machine but it has a motor, so your hands are free as you are rolling the dough.
You work the dough through the widest part of the roller, folding and reworking through the roller, until the dough becomes elastic as the gluten develops. You’ll probably want to rub the dough with flour on both sides, depending on the humidity in your kitchen. It takes at least 6 runs to get it ready to roll out to a thinner consistency.
Once the dough is smooth and elastic, tighten the roller one or two notches (on my Bialetti I go from 6 to 4) and roll the dough through, catching it on the other side.
Then crank it down again, to 2 for Corzetti. Then, I take the pieces of pasta and lay then down on cookie sheets or your counter, and dust them with Wondra flour (which is granular and sinks to the bottom of the pot when cooking.)
After the pasta has been rolled into sheets, I used a cookie cutter and punched out the little “corzetti” coins. Continuously, I dust with Wondra to keep the dough from sticking.
You are ready to rock and roll.
Get that water boiling. 8 quarts with 2 tablespoons salt.
Once the water is at a rollicking full boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. About 4-5 minutes in my corner of the world.
While the pasta is cooking, ladle out some of the pasta water and thin your cheese/herb mixture until a nice consistency to coat the pasta.
Drain the pasta….toss into the bowl with the cheese mixture.
Dust with extra pecorino romano and…celebrate! You will not believe how delicious this is.
And thank you for singing, the crew of “The Chew.”