Soul Cocina

Eco Chef Roger Feely


I have been working on some Southern Italian recipes this week. Italian cuisine is such a big part of Chicago culture. Pickled peperoncino and giardinara are two products that came to Chicago from Italian Immigrants. My early addiction to these two spicy condiments are what gave me my name Rogerchilepepper. I have included a recipe for sott'aceto into one of the recipes I am working on for Insalata di Frutti di Mare. Sott'aceto is similar to giardinera only that the vegetables are pickled in vinegar. The vegetables in Giardinera are preserved in oil. I have been making batches of both of these classics at home. I can't decide which I like better. I guess they both have their own time and place. The sott'aceto is classic in Insalata di Frutti di Mare, and Giardinera has always been served on Chicago beef sandwiches. To understand how serious beef sandwiches are in Chicago check out the great beef off over at Skillet Doux. I have not been able to keep the jars around for too long. I use my Giardinera on pizza, pasta, grilled cheese... I have promised fellow Chicagoan The Food Diva a jar of my Giardinera, so I have to take it easy before I eat up my entire last batch (which was originaly meant for gift giving)

For the Southern Italian pasta dish I choose to make orecchiette, the ear shaped Pugleise pasta made without eggs. Orecchiette is traditionally served with turnip greens. I love orrechiette with turnip greens and homemade Chicago style Italian sausage. The Chicago style Italian sausage that is studded with fennel seeds and used as a pizza topping, not the other Chicago Italian sausage that is used for the sandwiches (ever try a combo?!

So the Insalata di Frutti di Mare uses turnips in the sott'aceto and the orecchiette with sausage is tossed in braised turnip greens, so the entire turnip plant would be used if both the dishes are served as courses of a single meal.

In Goa the vegetable lady used to bring us radishes with their greens all the time. She called radish moiri. I have also heard them called mullo in Goa. I learned how to cook shredded moiri with radish greens while in Goa. The dish is cooked in a dry curry with grated coconut and spices. I have a huge backlog of Goan recipes, stories, and photos to post. They will all be posted here in the months to come. You can see this guy on the photo on the left is selling moiri.

SO back to the South Italian menu... I made a batch of orecchiette tonight to test the recipe. I always make it without a recipe, so to come up with a proper formula is a challenge. Luckily I had a hand written recipe that I found in one of my old notebooks from when I was a pasta maker at the bakery of Blossom Cafe in Charleston. The Blossom bakery provided all the pasta, pastries and breads for both Blossom Cafe and the big sister Magnolias. I love the Magnolia catchphrase "Uptown Down South" (btw, I was able to visit Magnolias a few months ago and it is still top notch. One of the best meals of my life actually) I was happy to revisit this orecchiette recipe and I was forced to digitalise the recipe (one down ten thousand to go!)
The dough should be a little soft. It is easier to work with if you use warm water for the dough and allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Orecchiette Pasta Dough:

1 ½ cup semolina flour
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt pounds shrimp, cleaned
1 – 1 ½ cups lukewarm water

Combine the semolina and all purpose flour on a work surface and add a little water at a time to form a soft dough that is not sticky. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out into ropes the thickness of a pinkey finger.
Cut into little disks (1/16 inch wide). Roll a thumb indentation into each piece of dough to form little curved cups “ears”. The center should be more thin than the edges. Lay out onto semolina dusted sheet pans to slightly dry.

After rolling out the orecchiette, I let them dry for a few minutes as I cooked some Italian sausage and heated up the Carolina style collard greens I had left over from lunch(The collard recipe I learned from my time in the Magnolias kitchen - stewed with chicken stock and ham hocks with a little vinegar.. no sugar.. with a little tabasco Yeah Bo!.. btw- one of the few "fusion dishes" at Magnolias is made with these greens and tasso and chicken wrapped up and fried as an egg roll served with a mustard sauce... flavor highway)

Tune: Ham Hock and Red Beans by Chuck Womack and the Soul Stirrers. This cookin' tune was rediscovered at a flea market by the dude behind SoulStrut The folks at Groove Merchant SF put out a re-issue of the tune on their Dis-Joint record label. Look out for another Dis-Joint release by Coppa with songs Cornnuts and Courvoisier and Don't Shrimp. You can hear the Cornnuts song in a mix here. Coppa is Groove Merchant's Cool Chris and Bing Ji Ling. I first downloaded the Ham Hocks song from Soul-Sides a few years ago. When I returned from India a few months ago, I traded some Bollywood LPs for a stack of records from Groove Merchant. A nice ham Hocks 12" was in the pile!

I boiled the orecchiette for about five minutes until al dente and tossed them in the greens with sausgae.

Tune: Ley Ja Kitte Door by DJ Ear Flaps from The Catalog mixed tape put out by Slept on Records' E Da Boss & Nick Andre and mixed by DJ Platurn

Tune: Country Cousins (feat UGK) by Talib Kweli from the Eardrum album.
This tune is included in this post because:
a. The song is called Country Cousins and I learned the collard green recipe from my country cousins.
b. The album is called Eardrum and orecchiette are named after the eardrum because of their appearance.
c. Talib Kweli is the artist and his lyrics and music is right at home here at Soul Cocina.