Suzi’s Blog

Polpette al Forno from Hog by Richard H. Turner


In his survey of cooking pork from every part of the pig and using every possible cooking technique, Hog author Richard H. Turner presents recipes from around the world. This Italian-inspired recipe features sausage cooked over a bed of grapes. With grapes available year round, this dish does not have to wait for the fall harvest.

Here sausage meat is combined into full, flavorful meat balls. Some of the grapes are crushed so that the meat cooks in a combination of grape juice and shallots, all heavily adorned with herbs. This is a hearty dish, one that might be too warm for a summer night. But, I’m posting this in mid-May when we have a frost warning. This is just, just the dish I’d love for dinner tonight.

With your options for sausage meat and the grapes used, this dish can be employed throughout the year, each time a little different, and each time superb.

There are some page references here to Hog for sausage mix and pork broth. Those are my not too subtle ways to encourage you to purchase Hog for all the details, so you can cook this dish faithfully from beginning to end. Yes, you can adjust a bit, using the sausage meat and the broth of your choice. Don’t skimp on the grapes. Get the finest, freshest you can.

Here’s a link to my earlier review of Hog.

Polpette al Forno

Yield: serves 4


  • Scant ½ cup milk
  • 1 ¼ cups bread crumbs
  • 1 pound 2 ounces Basic Pork Sausage mix (see page 146) or that weight in the sausage of your choice, skins stripped off
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 banana shallots, split in half
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 ounces seedless black grapes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Scant ½ cup Master Pork Broth (see page 335) or broth of your choice
  • ½ cup olive oil scant
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup good-quality balsamic vinegar


Pour the milk over the bread crumbs and allow to absorb, then mix with the sausage meat and Parmesan. Form the mixture into 12 equal-sized meatballs and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the shallots in the bottom of a baking dish that will hold the grapes and meatballs in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper, and lay the meatballs and grapes on top. Using a wooden spoon, crush about one-third of the grapes to release their juice. Scatter the herbs over everything, season again, then add the pork broth, olive oil, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, turning the meatballs from time to time, or until I cooked through.

Source: Hog by Richard H. Turner [Mitchell Beazley, 2015]



Garganelli with Prosciutto and Peas form Four + Water: Pasta by Thomas McNaughton


Spring is the time for peas. In Italy, peas are a seasonal food to be relished on the spot. Yes, you can get frozen peas there, and peas do freeze well. But suggest frozen peas to one of the “little old pasta” ladies working in Bologna, and you’ll get a cold stare.

Search out for fresh peas. And some pea shoots, too, for this pasta dish employs a pea puree that is smooth in texture and dense in flavor.

This recipe comes from Flour + Water: Pasta, the seminal pasta cookbook by San Francisco chef Thomas McNaughton. It’s an important and surely intense cookbook. The recipe here will take you some time to concoct. Great food is not made in a flash. So, open up a bottle Italian white.

The first ingredient here is Tom’s Standard Egg Dough pasta. I’m not going to duplicate that recipe here. I’m trying, not too subtly, to encourage you to buy the book and make his pasta treasure. In the directions below, there are references to page numbers in the book for fuller explanation of some of the techniques; this really is a pasta textbook.

Alternatively, you can probably hunt down a pasta store selling fresh sheets of pasta, for fresh — spring fresh — is the theme of this very green recipe.

Well, let’s talk about that freshness. Garganelli is a fresh tube pasta with a long mythological history. Something about a cat eating a meat filling for pasta and a housewife having to improvise. You need some special equipment [a garganelli comb] to make it and that task is carefully delineated in the book. Even Tom knows we have limits so you can substitute dried penne here and not be too too far off the mark.

Garganelli with Prosciutto and Peas

Yield: serves 4


  • 1 recipe Standard Egg Dough or penne for four

For the pea puree:

  • 5 ounces English peas  
  • ½ cup pea shoots
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • About ¼ cup water
  • Kosher salt

For finishing:

  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 3 ounces diced prosciutto
  • 1 tablespoon minced green garlic, or 1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ ounces spring onions, diced into ⅛-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 5 ½ ounces shelled English peas
  • 4 tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for finishing
  • 20 arugula flowers, stemmed, for garnish (optional)


Dust 2 baking sheets with semolina flour and set aside.

To make the pasta, follow the instructions for the Egg Dough (page 6).

Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough to 1/16 inch thick.

Cut a 2-foot section of the pasta sheet and cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap. With a sharp knife or straight wheel cutter, cut the pasta dough into 2-inch squares. Place one square on the garganelli comb, positioned diagonally, so two corners are at the top and bottom.

Place the dowel on the bottom of the comb. Using your fingers if necessary, curl up the corner so it curls up around the dowel to help get the tube started. In one smooth but firm motion, roll the dowel away from you from the bottom corner to the top corner, forming the tube-like garganelli.

Place the garganelli on the prepared baking sheet, uncovered, to air dry at room temperature until ready to cook. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Have ready a bowl of ice water.

To make the puree, cook the peas and shoots in boiling salted water until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath and cool completely, about 2 minutes. Remove the peas from the water and store, refrigerated, until ready to use.

Put the peas and shoots in the jar of a blender. Add the milk and begin to puree. Add just enough water, roughly ¼ cup, to achieve a smooth puree. Season with salt. You should have about 2 cups.

To finish, bring a large pot of seasoned water to a boil (see page 18).

Heat a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the olive oil and heat until it gently ripples on the surface of the pan. Add the prosciutto. It should sizzle the moment it hits the pan. You want to brown it a bit without making it crispy, about 1 minute. This step will infuse the oil with the prosciutto flavor, which will permeate the entire dish.

Add the green garlic and spring onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes. You want to keep stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil over medium heat, and allow the stock to begin to reduce. If using homemade garganelli, you want the stock to begin boiling in the pan before you drop the pasta in the water.

If using store-bought dried penne you should add the pasta to the water when you begin cooking the prosciutto.

Increase the heat under the sauté pan to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook about 1 minute. Add the peas to warm through. Once the pasta is cooked 80 percent through, until almost al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes if using homemade Garganelli, add it to the pan. Cook in the pan for about 2 minutes. Add the butter and the pea puree and vigorously swirl the pan to create an emulsion. We want to keep reducing until the sauce coats the noodle.

Turn off the heat and gently fold in the arugula. Toss the pasta to incorporate the arugula. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, divide the pasta and sauce between four plates. Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, sprinkle with arugula flowers, if using, and serve immediately.

Source: Flour + Water: Pasta by Thomas McNaughton [Ten Speed Press, 2014]

Photography Credit: Eric Wolfinger





Blackberry Roll from Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk


Last week I wrote a TBT cookbook review for Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk. It’s a tour de force of historic Southern dishes with loving emphasis on those ingredients we now call “local and fresh.” In a Southern spring, blackberries abound. In the New Orleans of a century ago, Blackberry Pie or Tarte de Mures and Blackberry Roll or Bourrelet aux Mures were considered dessert delicacies.

This recipe is one Sarah developed, drawing on the childhood memories of friends. It looks like a roulade and tastes like a very berry scone. It’s supposed to be a dessert, but with a cup of coffee this is a most delicious way to begin your morning and your day.

Suzen made this. I watched.

“Is it hard?” I asked, knowing darn well she had reached an awkward moment, the rolling up.

“It ain’t easy,” she responded, answering the challenge.

The issue here is rolling up the dough once the berries have been scattered on top. It’s a thick and somewhat sticky dough, and certainly a heavy one. I’m sure that with practice, Suzen will get much better at this. I’m going to encourage her continuing education.

We ate this right away, out of the oven, with steaming berries. You can do that, or let it cool. It can be adorned with whipped cream [as pictured] or ice cream. But “just plain” is really very good.

Blackberry Roll

Yield: serves 6-8


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups blackberries (or substitute dewberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water for glaze


Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in 2 tablespoons of the butter and the shortening. Stir in milk until just blended (do not overmix).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch by 18-inch rectangle, Vs inch thick. Distribute berries evenly on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle with remaining sugar; dot with remaining butter. Roll up lengthwise like a jelly roll; pinch edges together to close. Place seam- side-down on buttered jelly-roll pan. Brush with egg glaze.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until juices are bubbling and dough is seriously golden- brown. Test with a toothpick to make sure the dough is firm all the way through. Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Source: Around the Southern Table by Sarah Belk [Simon and Schuster, 1991]

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/50th second at ISO-640