The Mozza Cookbook - Nancy Silverton
Life got a little bit in the way of my cooking since my initial post. As a newbie blogger, I am finding my way around fitting this into my schedule. I started this as a way to turn my semi-constant food posts on Instagram and Facebook into something a little more meaningful while also helping to fill my time while I figure out the next step in my career. It’s a funny thing when you get a little time on your hands. Suddenly I am more than filling my days with introspection, yoga, family time, reading, oh and looking for my next “day job” of course!
I took the opportunity of having good friends over for dinner to put together a menu from “The Mozza Cookbook”. As I read through this book, cover to cover by the way, I was quickly getting in over my head. I love Italian cooking and this blog could easily turn into “Jen and Nancy” (ala "Julie and Julia") if I cook all I want to from this book! I am quite sure there will be another “Mozza Adventure” in the future. For one, I really wanted to try my hand at fresh pasta so stay tuned.
One of the things that struck me when reading the story of how Osteria Mozza came about, was that Nancy Silverton’s original intent for her restaurant was to have a simple spot where she could have a counter and a few tables with a mozzarella bar. It was important to me to incorporate a mini-Mozza bar as part of my culinary adventures this week to honor that vision.
I first went straight for the Homemade Ricotta (page 41). Four ingredients and a little time is all it takes. I did have to go buy a small stainless steel saucepan and really can't imagine how I didn't already have one. I also found out that it is important to have "pasteurized" rather than "ultra-pasteurized" whole milk. Who new that would make a difference or that your average grocery store generally only stocks "ultra"? In any event, I’m not sure I will ever buy ricotta at the grocery again. When I was telling my mom about making this her response was that she cannot understand why anyone would go to the trouble when you can just buy it. I’ll tell you why… because it is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. It was also remarkably easy. This recipe will definitely go into my arsenal of "make it yourself" basics. I used it to make a yummy crostini along with Pereronata (page 87).
I was not ambitious enough to try making my own mozzarella so I will thank Blue Ridge Dairy for the fresh mozzarella I picked up at a local farmer’s market. (As an aside, If you are in the Washington, D.C. area you really should try all their dairy ... I am completely addicted to their yogurt.) Add some olives, fresh tomato, and a glass of rosé and you have all the makings of a simple selection of antipasti that will keep your guests happy while you finish dinner.
Moving on to dinner. I went for the pan-roasted pork chops with olives and Sambuca-braised fennel (page 241). The smell of roasting fennel was amazing and the end result was fantastic. The quality of the pork is key in this recipe so it warranted a trip to a local butcher, Let's Meat on the Avenue, where I found some gorgeous chops. Even the two 6 year old boys dining with us enjoyed those chops! Add a side the brussels sprouts with sherry vinaigrette and prosciutto bread crumbs (Page 256) and a simple salad and we had all the makings of a delicious dinner.
All in all, I had a great time taking a little Italian trip this week. I hope those who got to eat it enjoyed it as much I enjoyed cooking it.
And last, but certainly not least, I have to thank Nancy Silverton herself. She probably doesn't remember meeting me at that book signing in Nashville a couple months ago, but her encouraging words helped kick this whole project off... thanks, Nancy!
Now back to the bookshelf to figure out what's next.