Over the years, my mother taught me a lot about cooking and I her. When I was very young, her cooking was pretty basic, at some point when I was about 12 or 13, she became very interested in "gourmet" cooking. She took all kinds of cooking classes - French, Italian, Chinese, and others. She immersed herself in learning as much as she could. Fast forward to my parents' retirement years and she once again took more cooking classes, watched cooking shows, read cookbooks and really mastered classic preparation and cooking methods, as well as the correct tools to use, their handling and care. I, on the other hand, always loved to experiment in the kitchen and was always comfortable just throwing things together or learning something in my own way, but definitely not the traditional way. My mother always used to say how jealous she was of my comfort in the kitchen (I wasn't afraid to make a mistake - and I made plenty!) I often resented her following me around the kitchen, watching everything I did. (Oh how I regret that today.) When I was older and more open to her ideas, I learned from her many basics that I was missing with my own methods. She taught me the best ways to chop, slice, peel, saute, etc. She showed me tools that I had never used, corrected my mistreatment of certain herbs and vegetables, showed me professional tips that I never would have had the patience to learn otherwise. We had an interesting exchange when I had finally mellowed and did not resent her presence when I was cooking. I was usually the one to discover some dish at a restaurant and then replicate it at home. The successful ones I always made for her. She was the one to study cookbooks and shows and pass those recipes she found good on to me. Sometimes we had both made certain dishes so much that we couldn't remember who started it or who changed it. In the end, we really inspired each other and taught each other much about food and cooking. For that and many other reasons, I am eternally grateful for her.
Mom and me her kitchen - 2000
This is my entry for Apples & Thyme.
Antonio's Radicchio Pasta
1 lb. penne pasta
1 head chopped radicchio (For this dish, I prefer the Radicchio di Chioggia - the type with the round head)
1/2 lb. diced prosciutto
A pile (maybe 1 cup) of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Boil pasta in well salted water.
In a large skillet, saute' prosciutto with a good glug of olive oil for a few minutes, or until it appears to be cooked, then add the radicchio and cook until wilted. Add a little fresh ground pepper.
Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Toss pasta in the skillet with the radicchio and prosciutto. If it appears to dry, add in a little of the pasta water. Add salt if needed. Serve in a big bowl topped with the shaved cheese.
Of course, don't forget to serve it with a delicious Italian wine - try a Tocai from Friuli, or if you prefer red, try a Refosco.