We decided to write our Twice is Nice Column as a Food for Thought this week, instead of as our usual blog. The recipe we made, Corzetti con Maggiorana e Pinoli, came from The Geometry of Pasta by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand. The dish is a simple combination of "corzetti", which resemble embossed coins, with butter, pine nuts, and marjoram leaves. According to the book, this Ligurian pasta shape dates back to the 14th Century, and was shaped with hand-carved wood stamps, usually of the family coat of arms. I must be honest and admit that I outsourced this recipe to my grandmother, as I had too many things on my plate (pun intended), and needed some help last week. We had some whole wheat penne in our cupboard, and so that is what we used instead of the corzetti. I later learned that Emma put me to shame (see below). My grandmother followed the recipe exactly, and the results were delicious. Marjoram is a particularly strong herb. It is not something subtle that merely enhances a dish, but rather dominates whatever it seasons. Though it can be combined with thyme, oregano, and a few other Mediterranean herbs, I usually see marjoram on its own. The pinenuts were a good match for the herb, and though the sauce was light and simple, the flavors were strong and forthright.
Emma's Notes (pictured): We decided to make a night out of this recipe and make the pasta at home. My boyfriend came over iwth some wood-carving tools and carved a stamp out of a piece of firewood so that I could emboss the pasta discs. It worked amazingly well, though we only embossed the pasta on one side and not two. The pasta turned out a bit hearty, but it was a hit nonetheless. . . we ate it with Caesar Salad and beets from our friend's garden.
Rick Field of Rick's Picks answered a few of our questions:
KC: Why pickles?
RF: For me, a passing interest became a hobby, which became an obsession, which became a full-blown career.
KC: How long have you been pickling?
RF: With my folks since I was about 12. For fun on my own, since 1997. As a business, since 2004.
KC: What is your favorite type of pickle?
RF: I don't play favorites. My favorite is always the next one.
KC: What advice do you have for novice picklers?
RF: There is no such thing as a bad experiment. Explore your inner pickler.
KC: It seems like almost anything can be pickled, what are the properties of a vegetable or fruit that make it good for pickling?
RF: Vegetables with good structure will lead to good results. Cucumber, beans, beets, fennel. The texture of the final product is so important.
KC: Any pickling disasters or unlikely successes?
RF: My pickled eggs never made it out of the kitchen.
KC: Most cultures of the world have some sort of pickling tradition, why is that?
RF: Every place on earth needs to preserve the bounty of the harvest for times of want.
KC: We love your Smokra, which is your favorite of the peck?
RF: My current favorite is our newest pickle, called "Hotties". It is a crinkle-cut pickle chip with sriracha and dried habanero.
KC: What are your favorite pickle pairings?
RF: Phat Beets with goat cheese is hard to top. . . correction. . . it is easy to top. . . with fresh blueberries!
The effects of human activity on the Earth are profound, and the question comes up more and more - can we find ways to live that will allow all 6 billion plus of us to fruitfully sustain ourselves? About 30 years ago, Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren developed a system of growing food called permaculture, which integrates ecological principles, ancient indigenous knowledge, and systems thinking into the design of gardens and farms. Since its beginnings, permaculture has evolved to encompass all aspects of sustainable/renewable living. For more information visit: www.permaearth.org/
Scapulimancy is a method of divination that uses the lamb's shoulder blade to read the future. Obscure as it may sound, it has been practiced since antiquity around the world; everywhere from China, to Greece to the British Isles, to Native American communities in North America. Technique varies from region to region, sometimes the bone is boiled, held up to the light- the translucent parts tell the story. Other traditions bake the bone and read the cracks. In ancient greece soldiers would read the bones the night before big battles, a translucent scapula meant victory. Scapulimancy is still practiced in parts of Greece and Eastern Europe. We tried it on easter, and there was a pattern of a keyhole in the middle of the scapula... the jury is still out on what such a symbol might mean...-Emma Piper-Burket