As the grip of Winter slowly tightens and the warmth of the holidays has passed it’s time to enjoy some comfort food and what better way than having a little something from sun dappled Italy as a reminder of the warmth of Summer to come.  In all honesty, I’m a huge fan of comfort foods from around the globe; Chili, Beef Bourgeon, Shepard’s Pie, Ramen and Curry so Spaghetti and Meatballs seemed a logical choice.

 

Carmine’s Marinara Sauce, Carmine’s meatballs and spaghetti were the choices to see how Carmine’s approaches this most fundamental of Italian dishes. I made the marinara a day ahead to give the ingredients plenty of time to blend with each other. 

 

Ingredients were:

  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced garlic
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Four 28 ounce cans  whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Romano Cheese

 

Carmines Meatballs

  • 1 ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • 1 ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 ¼ cups grated Romano cheese
  • Carmines Marinara Sauce
  • 2 pounds spaghetti

 

The recipes were easy to follow and make and overall they are delicious although I found the meat balls a tad too salty, especially by themselves.  The sweetness of the Marinara and pasta evens out the saltiness of the meat balls to a degree but next time I plan on leaving out the tablespoon of kosher salt and rely on the Romano cheese to provide all the saltiness needed.  All in all, a fantastic foundation recipe to accompany all your Italian meals.

 

The nuts and bolts…

 

St. Martin’s Press, 272 pages

 

The book is written by Glenn Rolnick who is the Director of Culinary Operations for the Alicart Restaurant Group, owners of Carmine’s and is co-written by Chris Peterson, a writer and editor based in Ashland, Oregon. The dust jacket notes “Carmine’s was founded on a hearty dose of abbondanza, the Italian idea of generosity and abundance” and this cookbook provides 101 generously sized recipes to select from.

 

True to form of the restaurant original and its founders, Artie Cutler (who passed away in 1997) and his wife Alice, the recipes are founded first on being uncomplicated food for the soul and a celebration of life in each morsel; you won’t find cutting edge “chemistry” style cooking or avant-garde presentations here.

 

The book covers a brief history of the original restaurant, skips to how to select wines, how to fill your pantry to tackle hearty Italian courses, shares Carmine’s Kitchen Wisdom and provides recommended menus for different occasions.

 

The book in broken down into sections for cold appetizers, hot appetizers, salads, pasta, fish and seafood, meat and chicken, side dishes and desserts.  Mouthwatering photos, which I’ve always found helpful in selecting an interesting and unknown recipe, abound and are provided for most of the recipes

 

Overall; a great, basic, traditional Italian cook-book for the beginner to intermediate chef to either start or round out their collection.