Saturday, April 17, 2021

Cacio e pepe - the dish that got away

HALLIE EPHRON: Two years ago I had the great good fortune to spend some time in Tuscany. I was smitten with the rolling landscape. The wine. The relaxed tempo of daily life. And of course, the food. Any restaurant you went to had a magnificent antipasti table to get your cravings going.

Truthfully, most of the time the antipasti looked better than they actually tasted… more a feast for the eyes than the tastebuds. After all, that zucchini and pate and prosciutto and melon had been arrayed on those platters since the restaurant opened earlier that night.

But never was I disappointed by the pasta. And in particular, an unassuming dish called cacio e pepe. Cacio is cheese. Pepe is pepper. And that’s what the dish is comprised of: black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. And, of course, pasta (along with some of the water the pasta was cooked in).

It is… a revelation. Completely delicious in its simplicity.

Since returning from Italy I’ve tried and tried to duplicate the dish. Never have I come close. Is it the pepper? The cheese? The water? Surely our pasta can’t match theirs, but I’ve even made my own pasta.

Cacio e pepe: I consider it my culinary great white whale.

Is there some food that you had as a child or a traveler that you’ve tried in vain to duplicate?


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: This is SO interesting. It originated in Italy, too. (Didn’t it?) Pizza. NO MATTER WHAT I DO it is not cheesy oregano-y yeasty crispy chewy enough. I think...it may be that mere mortal ovens don’t get hot enough. I mean, it’s fine, and it’s a pizza-like thing. But eating it is mostly about the memory of other pizzas.

LUCY BURDETTE: Hallie, this is exactly the dish that I remember from one day some years ago in Rome. John and I had walked for miles and toured the Colosseum and we were ravenous.

We stopped at a little hole in the wall place and that is what I ordered, cacio e pepe. I order it anytime I see it on the menu, and the only time

I had something close was at Eataly in New York City. In fact a friend of John’s sent us her recipe, and I will try it and report back to you. But honestly, it may have been the day and the setting and the walk that made that dish so amazing!

JENN McKINLAY: Oooh! I’ve had cacio e pepe at an Italian restaurant in Queens - Trattoria L’incontro - sooooo good! They also had a pistachio creme Brûlée - to die for, seriously. Of two I’m more apt to attempt the Brûlée as baking is more my thing. I haven’t had a white whale of a recipe myself, but I had a friend who was determined to make the flourless chocolate cake from Ruth’s Chris. After much effort, she finally nailed it.

HALLIE: There’s a really good recipe for flourless chocolate cake in Julia Childs’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 2. We had it for one of our joint dinners with friends--way back when we did joint dinners with friends and everyone brought one spectacular dish.

RHYS BOWEN: ah, the cacio e Pepe! I remember it well. I’ve had it over here but it hadn’t been as good. I have tried and tried to make authentic Chinese and Malaysian food. John lived in Malaysia and we have cookbooks but it never tastes the same.

Once a Chinese friend cooked a beef noodle dish while I was watching. I tried it at home, same ingredients, same method and…. it tasted Italian! Go figure.

HANK:That’s hilarious, Rhys! Chiming in again... I had a Chinese friend explain step by step how she made her delicious food. (If I remember, it included a lot of cornstarch.) I did it anyway, exactly as she said. And… yuck. 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hallie, I had no idea there was a name to that dish - in my house, we call it spaghetti a la blanco! Grated parm, olive oil, and pepper, and I usually crumble up some Italian seasonings like basil, rosemary and oregano. It's been one of my go-to pantry dishes for years.

I've never had a white whale dish, but my Grandmother Fleming did. As a young married woman in the thirties, she lived in the Italian section of Rochester. There was an older lady there that took her under her wing and taught her to make meatballs in marinara sauce just like they did in the old country. But Grandma SWORE she left something out, because her meatballs, though delicious, were never <i>quite</i> as good as her mentor's. 

 In my teens, she lived a block away from us, and at least once a month made meatballs, tweaking the recipe every time. We loved them, but she was never truly satisfied. In an ironic twist, she passed away without leaving the recipe written down, so I guess I'm not going to taste it again unless I can find an old Italian lady in Rochester to help me!



DEBORAH CROMBIE: Cacio e pepe! It seems to be everywhere these days on food blogs and columns, but I’ve never tried to make it. A bistro on our town square does a wonderful version, though, and now I’m craving it.

My white whale would be whole wheat sourdough bread. I can make good bread but it’s never as good as the bakery loaves. I suspect lack of a commercial oven might have at least a bit to do with it.

HALLIE: Sour dough bread - sigh. Growing up in Calfornia, even supermarket sour dough bread was pungent and delicious. In the Northeast, anything labeled sour dough tastes pallid. Though I'd have to classify ALL types of bread as my white whales. I've never been adept at making bread and have assumed, as with Hank on pizza, that it's the oven. But maybe, as with cacio e pepe, it's the water.

So what's the recipe that frolics about gloriously in your memory but you've never been able to duplicate?

100 comments:

  1. This is so interesting . . . I haven’t had a white whale dish . . . yet.

    Hank, I just read something about making pizza more authentic-tasting . . . they suggested using a hotter oven that the recipe usually calls for, cooking on a pizza stone [or directly on the oven rack], and usinglots of cheese and herbs . . . .

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    1. Looking it up online, 500-700 degrees are what some traditional pizza ovens are set to. I don't think our ovens are built to generate that kind of heat.

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    2. 500 degrees in a convection oven is as close as you can get in a residential oven, I think. The convection makes it act hotter.

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  2. It's definitely my husband's grandmother's salad dressing. It had finely chopped hard-boiled eggs, salt, pepper, mustard and oil & vinegar. I've found similar recipes and tried to tweak them, but it will never be the same. And of course was not written down in her recipe collection. Thinking about it now - I'll try again this week!

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  3. I love these stories, and the caio e pepe sounds divine. Thanks for the reminder to get my starter out of the fridge and warming up. I think my hand is ready to make bread again!

    We make very good pizza here, just saying. A friend makes tender meatballs - and mine never turn out that way. They're edible and tasty, just not tender. Like Julia's grandmother, I will keep trying!

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    1. Tender meatballs - there was a recipe I once made (I think from NY Times) that resulted in very... fluffy is the only word for it... meatballs. Fresh breadcrumbs, egg, and roasted in the oven. They were amazing.

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    2. I tried King Arthur Baking's recipe for thin crust pizza dough. It really comes out thin! I could roll it between two sheets of parchment paper and it let me do it! But, it was too little on the crust.
      This week I used pizza dough from the grocery store. It rolled out ok, but puffed up a lot in the oven.
      I need a hybrid between these two!

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  4. I love this topic!

    My white whale was Gramma's sugar cookies. Nothing ever tastes as good. My D-I-L gave me the Flour baking book by Joanne Chang. Her sugar cookie recipe tastes so much like Gramma's that I cried when I ate one from the first batch.

    Gramma also added a dash of Canadian Club to her chocolate cake. Her cake was amazing! None of my cakes taste quite like it and although I bake delicious cakes, adding CC to my chocolate cake recipes is Meh.

    Otherwise, I confess that certain foods that are scrumptious in restaurants, I never try here.

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    1. Judy did you figure out what was in those sugar cookies?

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    2. My grandmother made cookies I wish I could duplicate, too - thin crisp CINNAMON cookies. I used to get the job of brushing the tops with melted butter and sprinkling on cinnamon-sugar before baking.

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    3. Roberta, the Flour cookies tasted very much like Gramma's did, but they looked different. My grandmother's were a bit crisper. I really have made some delicious sugar cookies from many different recipes, but why Flour's tasted more like hers did, I do not know.

      Oo-o-o, Hallie, what a nice memory of your gandmother. I do not remember helping mine, just hanging out for the finished product.

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    4. I loved my grandmother's Snicker Doodles, but have never been able to replicate them. I bought one from a local artisan bakery a couple of weeks ago, with great anticipation. But...meh. I didn't even finish it.

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  5. I completely understand Hallie. More than ten years ago, after visiting Oxford in England all day, I sat for supper and was too tired to order a big meal, I planned to go to bed early. They had a strarter (entree) of beetroot gratin. As I love beetroot, I chose that. It was so good ! It was essentially two ingredients: beet pieces with goat cheese pieces. How difficult could it be to reproduce ? Well, I ate a lot of beets with cheese since but never found it as satisfying.

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    1. I love beets too, though not wild about goat cheese. Did you conclude it was the setting Danielle?

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    2. Yes, probably the setting: very charming bistro, very good food after a very satisfying day discovering Oxford. All those are missing when I try at home.

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    3. I'll bet it was the beets. Thinking about how exquisite vegetables tasted in Tuscany and assuming it had to do with their soil, water, and growing techniques.

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    4. And Lucy, I didn’t know it was goat cheese while eating it, it was incomparable. I tried with many kinds of cheeses.
      Maybe this special English cheese is the secret.

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    5. You are probably right about the soil, Hallie, think of how different wines can be from one another; same grapes, different soils and climates.

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    6. And Hallie, it could also be the beets.

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    7. DANIELLE: I love beets. Maybe the cheese they used in Oxford was different?

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    8. I think "goat" cheese varies greatly - the term just means it came from goats milk. I've had goat cheese in France that tasted like a rich camembert, complete with rind and creamy interior... and in Greece it's fetah. World of difference. But both goat cheeses. And there's a world of variation in between.

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    9. Hallie, absolutely right. There is an enormous variety of cheeses made with goat's milk. From soft, creamy young ones to hard, almost grate-able aged ones. And much of the feta we have is super salty from the brine.

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  6. When I mentioned failing again at cacio e pepe on Facebook I was sent several videos on how to make it. None of them use the same method. This one looks the easiest:L https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inOnvMKtqU8

    My cooking bete noir is anything with an eggy sauce: Mayonnaise, Hollandaise, lemon curd, or tiramisu. They always break for me.

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    1. Julia, if you watch the video, you'll see that cacio e pepe isn't the same as what you describe. It transcends most other pasta dishes.

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    2. Easiest ever hollandaise - over low heat melt 1/2 stick of butter; add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 beaten egg - whisk constantly for about 3-5 minutes until it thickens. Voila.

      AND YES, Julia's recipe is not cacio e pepe. No self-respecting cacio e pepe has butter or oil in it.

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    3. Hollandaise: do it in the blender! Put the eggs and lemon juice and salt or whatever ingredients there are, I forget, into the blender. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Put the lid on the blender, but take out the thing in the middle that makes an opening. Whir the eggs and lemon juice, then SLOWLY pour in the hot butter in a steady slow thin stream. It works PERFECTLY.

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    4. HANK: This blender version of hollandaise sounds much easier to make than the traditional one. I try it one day.

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    5. KAREN: I have made lemon curd for many years with no problem. But I saw that Leslie K. posted a microwave lemon curd recipe earlier this year that I may try. Maybe this one will work for you.
      https://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2021/01/microwave-lemon-curd-recipe-by-leslie.html

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    6. I made that lemon curd microwave recipe and it worked very well!

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  7. My grandmother's bread. I make great bread, but it never has quite the flavor of those loaves my grandmother turned out week after week.

    I think the issue is that she used cake yeast, which I haven't seen in stores for years and years.

    That, and the fact that she was the best cook and baker of all time!

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    1. Cake yeast !?!? Go figure.

      The ingredient I can never find is chicken fat. But that's another blog topic.

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    2. Hallie, tell your butcher you want some chicken fat. If you have a Kosher butcher near-by (in Boston, probably do) then they'll get it for you. MY other grandmother used to put some on my mashed potatoes. OMG. Also, the best in pate, also know as chopped liver. Yes.

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    3. I've resorted to saving and freezing bits and scraps that I cut off chicken parts or whole chickens. When we lived in Manhattan you could buy chicken fat in the supermarket. And of course if we had a kosher butcher nearby...

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    4. Our local butcher has chicken fat, bones, beef fat, etc., etc. Also jars of duck fat. They also sell local eggs, milk, butter, cheeses, and some produce from local farms. And now wine and beer since the pandemic. One stop shop!

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    5. My grandmother(my dad’s mother) always used cake yeast for her bread. My dad also made bread using her recipe. I don’t think the recipe was ever written down. Everyone in my family would love to have it. I’ve never tasted any bread as good as theirs.

      DebRo

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  8. I've never attempted cacio e pepe simply because it is so simple--I've always had the feeling that any version I made would not produce the desired results.

    My white whale is my grandmother's and mother's biscuits. Talk about a simple recipe! I can make an edible biscuit, finally, but not light, melt-in-your mouth and pass-the-basket-my-way-again biscuits. I think it comes down to feel--knowing when you've gotten everything mixed just right and then a sure touch with the rolling pin, cut, and in the oven!

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    1. I agree, biscuits are hard to get right. I marvel at people who can eyeball the ingredients and still get light, airy, buttery biscuits.

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    2. I wonder if it was the fat. Just thinking about pie crust that's never as good unless it's made with Crisco.

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    3. Flora, Sally's Baking Addiction has great recipes but the tips are priceless. I recommend that you read her tips. I remember that one of them is: don't twist the cutter.

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    4. If I might say so, I make amazing high-rise whole wheat biscuits. It's in the cold butter and handling them very lightly.

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    5. I agree with Edith, cold butter and mixing as less as possible are the keys to making fluffy biscuits.

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    6. Thanks, everyone, for the tips. I've tried them all--when I think of all the pans of biscuits my grandmother and mother made--maybe in another 10 or 15 years of trying, I'll get closer!

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    7. Edith, can you share your whole wheat biscuit recipe??

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    8. Sure. This recipe was in my first Country Store Mystery. Leave out the cheese for the basic recipe.
      Robbie Jordan opened Pans ‘N Pancakes, her country store and restaurant, in Flipped for Murder. One of her customers’ favorite offerings are cheesy biscuits. Because the store is in Brown County, Indiana, she also serves gravy with the biscuits, but they’re just as good with honey or apple butter.

      Cheesy Biscuits

      Ingredients:
      1 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for kneading
      1 cup unbleached white flour
      1 tablespoon baking powder
      ½ teaspoon salt
      ½ cup butter cut in half-inch cubes
      2 eggs
      ½ cup milk or buttermilk
      1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

      Directions:
      Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
      Mix the dry ingredients.
      Cut butter into the flour mix until mostly pea-sized pieces.
      Make a well in the middle and add the eggs and milk, mixing with a fork in the well.
      Add the cheese and stir all with a fork until liquid and cheese are just blended with the flour. Do not over mix.
      Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and on the dough. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the surface, rubbing flour around the inside of the bowl until clean.
      Lightly knead the dough until it comes together.
      Flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough to a half-inch thickness. Fold in thirds. Roll, fold, and repeat several times.
      Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass and position on a baking sheet. You don’t need more than half an inch in between.
      Bake for about ten minutes or until risen and golden brown on top.
      Serve warm with apple butter, honey, or gravy.

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  9. Hallie, try this recipe! https://smittenkitchen.com/2018/09/foolproof-cacio-e-pepe/

    I also have failed miserably at cacio e pepe and this got me closer than I've ever gotten though, full disclosure, still not quite there. My great white whale is also pie crust. My mom makes amazing pie crust and I just can't do it on my own. It is very frustrating.

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  10. We had tiramisu for dessert every night in Italy, and once for breakfast as a goodbye come again treat on our last morning at our little family hotel in Rome. I'll have to search for the ingredients in Cincinnati and give it a whirl. I remember the breakfast tiramisu was so heavily laced with brandy that I floated through our last day in Rome.

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  11. I agree with DEBS, and have seen cacio e pepe everywhere online. Maybe it is one of those pandemic home cooked dishes people are trying to make and are failing?

    My elusive recipe is a jugged rabbit dish I ate in Quebec City in February 2003. Maybe it was the setting: dimly lit elegant restaurant in a stone building in old Quebec. I know the rabbit dish contained juniper berries, red wine and herbs but I have not found a recipe that comes close to replicate that dish at home. And that restaurant is long gone.

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    1. Sounds like a coq au vin with a rabbit instead of a chicken. Because coq au vin is so hard to duplicate unless you really DO start by 'rendering pork fat', and how many of us do that?

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    2. Grace a traditional jugged hare recipe would contain the blood of the hare too. Old fashioned way, the hare would be hung and drained before cooking. Hope I'm not grossing anyone out. My guess is that one probably would find it cooked that way due to health regs nowadays. Also hare has a different taste to rabbit.

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    3. I guess you need to bag it yourself. Celia, the mind boggles at how you came by this amazing trove of information!

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    4. Laughing!! Hallie, more laughter! my Godmother was making Jugged Hare once when I was staying with them. Unfortunately it was for a meal AFTER I left - sadness. But I went to my Constance Spry Cookery Book, and voila! "One of the best of the English Dishes. The essential part of a jugged hare is that, after long slow cooking, the liquor be thickened with the blood of the hare and enriched with port; force-meat balls should accompany the dish.
      The French version is a 'civet,' which again implies that the sauce should be thickened with a blood liaison"
      Happy to send the recipe to anyone who would like to give it a try.

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    5. Rendering pork fat? At least one of us does (smile). This person makes lardons too!

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    6. CELIA: Yes, I knew about the blood. I can't buy hare but use rabbit instead. But any rabbit I can buy is already skinned and bloodless, so that is probably one key ingredient I am missing to get the authentic taste.

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  12. My white whale is a chicken. A whole roast chicken is soooooo hard to get right. Underdone and rubbery. Overdone and dry. Sheesh. I stick to parts, which I can get succulent and tasty on the stovetop every time. But, man, do I love a good roast chicken. They just don't happen in my kitchen...

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    1. The food memory is from my childhood and Sunday roast lunches. Made by my mother, of course.

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    2. Part of it is the chicken. Sorry, but those organic free rangers never seem to taste as crispy and juicy as a good ol' Perdue... and Perdue has gotten somewhat better about how they treat their chickens.

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    3. Amanda, Don't you think that some of the simplest dishes can prove to be the most challenging, and Hallie has a very good point about the quality of the chicken. I'm not sure if I did a spatchcocked chicken for JRW. But I have been spatchcocking chickens and roasting them a la The Barefoot Contessa for a while. Happy to send you my recipe if you would like it -wakefieldpro at gmail. Yes lovely Sunday lunch, a treat we all miss I think.

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    4. Spatchcock. What a wonderful word. I had to look it up. Turns out it's what I do when I roast a small chicken or smoke/roast one in a covered grill Cut in half and splayed. Twice the surface area to get crisp.

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    5. Hallie and Celia: You are both absolutely right. The chickens are not what they used to be. The organic ones don't have the fat content. And spatchcocking may be the answer -- I've not yet tried it. Celia - I'll email you. Thanks!

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    6. America's Test Kitchen has a weeknight roast chicken that is super easy and always perfect and crispy. But, it spatters the inside of the oven more than any other recipe ever. You need to preheat the oven to 450 with a cast iron frying pan heating at the same time. Put your olive oil coated, salt and peppered (3 to 4 pound) chicken on the preheated pan, dark meat down, and roast at 450 for 1/2 hour. Turn the oven off and let it continue to roast for another 1/2 hour. OMG, best roast chicken. Always crispy and always cooked through. Increase times minimally for slightly larger birds.

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    7. Judy: Thank you for that recipe. I've read that home cooks rarely use as much salt or cook at as high a heat as professional chefs. Two problems that result in quite different results in our own kitchens. Really hot oven temps scare me slightly (the more salt, not so much as I have perennially low blood pressure).

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  13. This is reminding me of my husband's memory of the unborn egg that were in the freshly butchered chickens his Brooklyn grandmother used to roast for Friday supper. Something I never experienced.

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    1. I remember my mother butchering and then cleaning chickens. A sight I never wanted to duplicate. But it was interesting to see all those eggs that were inside: an almost full one that would have been laid the next day, to eggs of graduated sizes. My mother saved and used most of them!

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    2. My grandmother always had those new eggs in the chicken soup.

      PS Hallie, my dad and grandfather were butchers.

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  14. I learned something today; until now, I never heard of cacio e pepe.

    My two grandmothers were born in different parts of Italy. Both of them said that pizza was “born” in the US. One of them never, ever cooked anything that people here think of as Italian. She didn’t like to cook, and preferred to read or work in her garden. The other one loved cooking and baking, and did both extensively as well as working full-time while raising nine children. She made her own pizza but it was definitely her own concoction and didn’t taste at all like what’s sold in restaurants.

    My own white whale is a soup my mom made when we were very young. It’s pretty simple, just rice cooked in chicken broth, with an egg or two swirled in towards the end, a small amount of lemon juice, and lots of grated cheese. Mine always comes out way too thick. I asked my mom once how she made it. She was shocked that I even remembered it, and said she hated making it! It was something she made when the budget was tight, because she always had eggs and rice in the house, and would buy some cans of broth. To me, it’s a type of comfort food; to her, making that soup meant that she was having trouble feeding her family. And she didn’t really remember how she made it. I continue to experiment with it.

    DebRo

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    1. Oh,Deb - what a wonderful story! And that sounds almost like a greek egg lemon (avgelemono) soup.

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    2. This experience about your mother’s soup is very moving : the same soup, two different feelings.

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    3. It does taste similar to Greek egg lemon soup, but that’s still not close enough to what Mom made!

      It’s interesting how recipes originate out of necessity, and how people in the same family experience it differently.

      DebRo

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  15. I once had the most wonderful Strawberries Romanoff that I tried to duplicate- the strawberries are easy, the Romanoff sauce not so much.

    My daughter recently spent a semester in Florence and now prepares amazing pasta dishes. I've never had cacio e pepe, but I bet she could make it for me.

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    1. Strawberries! That would be the challenge for me. Most of our strawberries come from Mexico and they taste SO different from what you can grow in your garden - but strawberry season is cruelly short.

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    2. I only eat strawberries in June, Hallie, when I can get them from a local farm.

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  16. I think terroir is coming into play. I wouldn't be purchasing Pecorino Romano Cheese, it currently is listed at $80.00 for 6 lbs. on Amazon --tarriffs are so interesting. My other thought is about the type of flour in baking. It wasn't until I moved to Florida that I really began to notice the difference in texture between certain favored brands of flour, local vs national chains.

    My white whale is tempura. I just cannot get the batter to adhere to the vegetables. I wind up with a greasy mess. Along with having to turn off the smoke alarm to cook this leads me to give up on a loss cause.

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    1. I confess, I would never even attempt tempura. Ditto one of my all time favorite foods, onion rings.

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    2. My son has been getting locally grown and ground flour from western Mass, and brought me some bread flour and some whole wheat. Hugely different even from King Arthur!

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    3. The trick is to use panko instead of flour to get light, crispy tempura batter. Having said that, my mom made quite good tempura using regular all-purpose flour and ice water in the batter.

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  17. What is the quote from Hamlet? "There's more in the Universe, my dear Horactio, than we can imagine?" Yes, incorrect quote but you get the point. For me it's baking treats. I really have to concentrate, and I think I probably feel guilty baking something sweet because of the calories etc. Oh well, take that one to the therapist. I have made Julia Child's chocolate mousse cake. In fact it's a staple in my vocabulary of cooking. I find her recipes do work, and the Mastering the Art, books are great. I am very much, a no recipe cook, though I 'cut' (copy and paste) recipes all the time, but more for ideas. My challenge is probably risotto. I love it, will choose it on any menu and do make it several ways but I am never completely happy with my end result being creamy enough in texture. Still the failures are god enough to serve most of the time!

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    1. You bring your caldron Hallie, I'll bring the newt, hare etc.

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  18. You have all made me absolutely STARVING for cacio et pepe -- and it's only 9:30 in the morning! WE love to recreate recipes from travel and they turn out pretty well -- the chocolate mousse from Chez Janou and the boeuf bourgignon from Bistro Paul Bert, both in Paris, the classic NY Chinese takeout noodles, and more -- but I think the truth is that there's some magic seasoning in the sense of discovery, the absolute "ohmygod, can you believe how good this and we're really here, eating boeuf bourgignon on the sidewalk outside a bistro in Paris on a glorious September day" sense of it all that leaves such a special taste in the memory, and can never quite be replicated. But dang, it's fun to try!

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    1. Gramma's kitchen, too, Leslie. Don't you think that food memories are place, time, people as well as taste and smell?

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  19. Years before I was born, my Mom went on a Grand Tour of Europe - 11 weeks!!! I am amazed that Americans were able to travel in Europe for that long! My mom came back with a recipe for Sangria and a recipe for Flan. I remember the Sangria with lots of fruits and lemonade mix. When my Mom tried to make the syrup for the Flan, somehow it became hard candy and it was delicious!

    I'm trying to remember if I was able to duplicate the dishes that I had in England / Scotland / Wales and Europe. I do not think I bothered to try.

    The perks of travelling include trying new local dishes to the places where I'm visiting.

    However, I noticed that I have tried to find tea in California that is similar to the wonderful tea that I had in England. No luck. I have tried to find Kir Royale wine that I had in Paris. No luck.

    Wondering if anyone watched the Royal funeral this morning? I am watching the live coverage of the funeral at Windsor Castle this morning.

    Hallie, yes, I get what you mean about the sourdough bread differences. I wonder if the difference is the water? I remember my cousins would buy sourdough bread in San Francisco and bring the bread with them when they visit my Uncle in Chicago.

    Happy Saturday,
    Diana

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    1. DIANA: Yes, I watched Prince Philip's funeral on BBC this morning. It was not too early for me but would have been dawn for you!

      As for kir royale, it is a combination of champagne and creme de cassis liqueur, so you can make it yourself.

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    2. GRACE, good to know about the kir royale. However, I cannot find creme de cassis liqueur. Oh well.

      Got to watch the funereal on You Tube and the captioning was spotty. Maybe they will add the captions later?

      Diana

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  20. Hub just reminded me that in the early days of quarantine when he took over the cooking, he made this dish and I loved it. Of course I did. Anything cooked by someone else is divine to me! LOL.

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    1. Behind every great chef is a great eater. I do believe that.

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  21. Mom could roll out biscuits and pie crust with no effort at all. Or so it seemed. I must admit I don't even try anymore.

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  22. Maybe we need to talk about polenta and its first cousin, grits?

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    1. And Hallie, can we also talk about butter? It just doesn't seem to be the same as back in the day. It doesn't melt as fulsomely on my hot toast as it used to. I understand that palm oil in the cows' diet is to blame. Boo and hiss to that!

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    2. Well Amanda you piqued my interest -- Canadian butter and palm oil in cow's diet! Quelle horreur! Is this something that's been noted in the US, too? Anyone??

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    3. A very big horreur, Hallie. Truly. I hadn't realized the problem was specific to Canada. Here's a link to the BBC with a story: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56175784

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