Try as I might to refrain, I’m often tempted to purchase a new cookbook (or two) if I find myself intrigued by an author, or concept, or just about anything that will push me into the “I’ve got to have it” mode. This time it was Stanley Tucci’s travel/culinary series on CNN, entitled “Searching for Italy,” that persuaded me that I had to have a cookbook by Stanley Tucci!
This show came at a much needed time last winter, when I was bored staying home due to the pandemic and spent most of my time dreaming of the day when we’d be able to travel again to our much beloved Italy. For one hour a week, Stanley Tucci transported us to Italy in all its beauty. We could just about taste and smell the foods right through the TV. The episode on the Amalfi Coast actually brought tears to our eyes. We’d eaten in most of the restaurants he visited during our many trips to this area of Italy. And of course, the foods from this region are what I grew up eating. Talk about lifting your spirits! We’d record each episode and play it several times during the week, whenever we needed a pick me up. Stanley Tucci saved me!!
I’m hoping he comes back for a second season, but in the meantime, I thought I’d enjoy perusing his cookbooks and finding some delicious new recipes. I felt that I owed him something, after he brought me so much joy. “The Tucci Cookbook” and “The Tucci Table” are not new cookbooks. They’ve been around for almost a decade. I didn’t realize that he was such a cook. I just thought he was an awesome actor. There are wonderful recipes in both books. I plan to make his famous “timpano,” from his movie “Big Night.” This has so many steps and ingredients that it will have to wait until winter, as I’ll need at least two days to complete that feat!
My recipe of choice for this post ……and it was a good one, came from “The Tucci Table.” It’s Pasta with Mushrooms, and it’s absolutely delicious. It so earthy and full of flavor and texture. This sauce would also be delicious on top of polenta.
If you’re a Stanley Tucci fan, I think you’d enjoy his cookbooks, as cookbooks always give you some interesting insight into the author, their families, their lives. If you’re a mushroom fan, this recipe is for you!
Just as an aside, Stanley Tucci has a new book out entitled, “Taste: My Life Through Food.” I’ve read a few excerpts from this book, and I’m especially moved by learning that he had a malignant tumor at the base of his tongue several years ago and had severe radiation treatment that left him with ulcers in his mouth and no taste. He says in this book that his greatest fear was losing his taste…..not death! This started me thinking about how important taste is to me and perhaps I should think about it with more gratitude.
And by the way, I have pre-ordered this book. A memoir with recipes is my kind of heaven!!!
Recipe: serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1 cup warm water
4 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSp Butter
1 large onion fine chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 1/2 to 3 pounds brown mushrooms such a Baby Bella or Cremini…or any mixture
1 bouquets garni ( 1 sprig each of rosemary, sage and thyme)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken or veal stock
Freshly ground back pepper
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 pound dried pappardelle
1 TBSP chopped Italian parsley
- First soak the dried porcini in 1 cup of warm water for about 30 minutes. Then lift from the soaking water and squeeze out as much of the water as you can, saving all the liquid. Pour the soaking-liquid through a coffee filter into a bowl to remove any sediment. Finely chopped the porcini and set aside.
- In a large saute pan, he 3 TBSP of the olive oil and 1 TBSP of butter over low heat. Add the onion, garlic and shallots and cook until softened but not brown. Raise the heat to medium. Add another TBSP of olive oil, all of the brown mushrooms, the chopped dried porcini and the bouquet garni. Cover and saute until the mushrooms have softened a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and let it cook for about 1 minute. Add the reserved porcini liquid, the chicken stock and a good pinch of black pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the mushrooms are nice and soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and gently stir in the remaining TBSP of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring 6 quarts of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pappardelle until al dent.
- Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the mushrooms. (You may have to divide the sauce and the pasta into two batches to do this). I didn’t. Turn off the heat, add one cup of the Parmigiano, and toss it through the pasta. to serve, transfer the pasta to a platter and top with the remaining Parmigiano and the parsley.