Friday, October 28, 2005

Linguine alle Vongole

In my recipe file, there is a hastily scribbled recipe for linguine with clams I copied from an email my mom sent me the first time I was in Rome. It has eight years of accumulated olive oil stains on it. When I made this in Rome my vegetarian roommates claimed they could hear the clams screaming. I have modified the Passion of the Clams with inspiration from Ristorante Piatti in Seattle, which does a great version of it. I don't use clam broth, which was in the original recipe, but if you don't like cooking with alcohol, you can replace the wine with it. I highly recommend the wine, though.

1 lb. linguine
1/4 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, slivered
3-6 dried chile peppers, depending on taste
1 c. dry white wine
2 lb. small hardshell clams
2 T chopped parsley
bread for sopping up extra sauce

1. Start cooking the linguine first, because the clams don't take long to cook.

2. About six or seven minutes before you expect the pasta to be done, heat the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the clams. Add garlic and peppers and stir over medium heat for a minute. Add wine and boil briskly until liquid is reduced by about half.

3. Add the clams and steam just until they're all open (you can remove them to the serving bowl as they open to prevent overcooking, as there are always a few stubborn ones).

4. Drain the linguine. Toss the clams and sauce with the pasta, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with bread.

Chinese Pork Ribs

Being a mother to two small children means that sometimes, the Crock Pot is your best friend. This recipe, discovered by my mother in an issue of Quick Cooking, tastes great and is good to serve when company is coming and you don't have time to really do a lot of cooking beforehand. A little preparation in the morning and this main dish is ready to go in the evening. I like serving it with rice to soak up the light marinade that coats the ribs after cooking.

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 to 4 pounds bone-in (or boneless) country-style pork ribs

Combine the soy sauce, orange marmalade, ketchup, and minced garlic in a bowl. Pour half of the marinade into the Crock Pot. Add the pork ribs (make sure your Crock Pot is big enough to handle the amount of ribs). Drizzle the ribs with the remaining marinade. Cook on low for 6 hours or until tender.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tiramisu alternative

Thanks to Juliet for inviting me to play on this new blog! This is a non-alcoholic cake version of tiramisu that has proven to be very popular among our group of friends. Since it can serve quite a few people, it makes a nice dessert for a party - plus the kids can have a taste. The recipe was originally published in Taste of Home magazine in the June/July 2002 issue.

Tiramisu Toffee Torte
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix
1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
4 egg whites
4 Heath candy bars (1.4 ounces each), chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons strong brewed coffee, room temperature, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Heath candy bar (1.4 ounces), chopped
Line two greased 9-inch round baking pans with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, coffee and egg whites on low speed until moistened. Beat on high speed for two minutes. Fold in chopped candy bars. Pour into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before moving from pans to wire racks. When cool, split each cake into two horizontal layers.
For frosting, in a chilled mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the whipping cream, chocolate syrup, 1/4 cup of the coffee and vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Frosting will be fluffy, but soupy.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the remaining coffee. Spread with 3/4 cup of frosting. Repeat twice. Top with fourth cake layer. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Garnish with chopped candy bar. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Serves 12-14 people.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I made this in vast quantities for our wedding cake, in celebration of our meeting in Rome and the tiramisu I made for a Fourth of July party at Justin's apartment almost exactly two years before we got married.

1 cup espresso, cooled
1/8 cup rum
1/2 package Savoiardi biscuits or ladyfingers
2 eggs, separated
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 lb marscapone
1/4 cup amaretto or other liqueur
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder
(ingredient amounts are generally very flexible)

1. Find a flat serving dish, several inches deep and large enough to accomodate half the biscuits in a single layer. Pour coffee and rum into another dish and dip 1/2 the biscuits in the mixture, soaking both sides without allowing them to disintegrate. (Usually I put them all in and them flip them over immediately--that's enough time. You might have to make more espresso/rum mixture after this, or drain off some of what the biscuits soak up to have enough left over for the next layer.)
2. Cover bottom of serving dish with savoiardi. Set aside coffee-rum mixture.
3. Beat egg yolks in bowl until pale yellow. Beat in all but about 1 tsp of sugar, marscapone, and liqueur until well blended.
4. In another bowl, whisk egg whites until fluffy but not stiff (works best with a mixer or KitchenAid). Add remaining sugar and whisk until still but not dry. Fold into egg/marscapone mixture.
5. Pour half of marscapone mixture over savoiardi layer. Top with chopped chocolate. Soak remaining biscuits and place on top of chocolate.
6. Blend any remaining coffee/rum mixture with remaining marscapone mixture and spread over biscuits. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, or freeze for 2-3 hours (thaw a bit in the refrigerator before serving if you do). Sprinkle with cocoa before serving.

Makes about 4 generous servings. I quartered a recipe for 12 in The Classic Italian Cookbook by Julia della Croce.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Juliet's tomato sauce

This is my version of the ubiquitous marinara. I've refined this recipe over the course of many years since I first started cooking my own tomato sauce when I lived in Rome in 1997. Several of my roommates there were vegetarians, so when I first started cooking tomato sauce, I often used sliced zucchini instead of meat (probably best added near the end of cooking so it doesn't get too soft). I usually serve it with penne. It would also work in lasagna.

1 T olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 1 1/2 lb. meat (I use ground turkey, but you can also use beef, sausage, whatever...or no meat at all)
28 oz can diced tomatoes
14 oz can tomato sauce
12 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 T dried oregano (or less; I really like oregano)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic until your kitchen smells wonderful. Brown the meat, add the other ingredients, and simmer for at least an hour, the longer the better. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Couscous and Vegetable Salad with Orange & Garlic

This is from our friend Michele, who used to be in the Berkeley classics department with Justin and is now a curator at the Getty Museum in LA. Sweet gig. This is a great salad for parties.


1-1/2 cups couscous
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups boiling water
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2 cups chick-peas or 1 15-oz can, rinsed and drained
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded and diced


1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Place the couscous, raisins, and turmeric in a large bowl, then pour boiling water over them and stir well. Cover with foil or a large plate and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cover again, and let sit 10 minutes longer.

2. Stir in the almonds, chick-peas, scallions, and tomatoes.

3. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, orange rind, basil, salt and pepper and beat to blend. Pour over the couscous mixture and toss. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours, before serving. Serve mounded on leaves of green leaf lettuce.

Juliet's note: I also sometimes add a bit of grated fresh ginger.


I am always looking for new recipes to try, and I know my friends who read girl with flat hat do too. It occurred to me that it would be fun to have a blog dedicated to posting recipes. A sort of Carnival of the Recipes, but on a smaller scale, and not a moveable feast.

I'll post recipes I like when the mood strikes me. If you want to post yours too, email me at and I'll add you as a contributer to the blog.

About the title: De Re Coquinaria is the title of an ancient Roman cookbook. Coquina is Latin for kitchen--not Ciceronian Latin, but later Latin. In classical Latin, it's culina, but that looks too much like a typo of cucina, which is kitchen in Italian. Yes, I am a geek.