Aglio olio is one of the quickest -- and most simply delicious -- Italian dishes to prepare. All you need is fresh garlic (the aglio) and olive oil (the olio) plus salt, black pepper, red pepper if you wish, and some pasta. Any variety of pasta will work.
For our book club dinner, I used:
6 cloves of garlic: four minced, two crushed in a garlic press
3 Tablespoons pomace olive oil *
1/2 lb durum semolina spaghetti, imported from Italy
salt, black pepper to taste
premium, full-bodied olive oil for finishing the dish (I use Frantoia or Olio Verde, imported from Italy.)
red pepper flakes to taste -- optional
Parmesan cheese -- optional
DIRECTIONS: Sautée the minced and crushed garlic in the 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-low heat until the garlic is just turning from golden to brown. Remove from the flame and set aside.
Boil the pasta in heavily salted water for about 7-8 minutes for spaghetti (exact time will differ if you're using rigatoni or a thicker pasta that requires more cooking time). Rule of thumb is to use water as salty as the sea and to undercook the pasta two minutes less than the directions advise. I like to finish cooking pasta in the sauce, whether a simple aglio olio or a marinara, adding to the pan some of the water in which I slightly under-boiled my pasta.
Meanwhile, drizzle high quality olive oil in the bottom of your serving dish to coat it -- about 2 Tablespoons should do the trick.
When the pasta has a bit more tooth to it than when it would be fully al dente, scoop the pasta from the boiling water with a sieve or a straining ladle and add it to the pan with the sauteed garlic. Return the pan to heat on a low flame and stir the pasta to coat with the garlic and oil. Add about 1/2 cup of the salted water in which you boiled the pasta and simmer on low until the water is absorbed.
Transfer the cooked pasta into the serving bowl, adjust salt to taste, add the black pepper and red pepper flakes if desired, and toss to combine. At this point feel free to drizzle on a bit more premium olive oil if the pasta looks too "dry."
Serves four to five as a first course. Buon appetito!
* pomace olive oil is sold online and in some grocery stores/Italian markets. Pomace is perfect for cooking, and is easier on the budget than the robust premium olive oil you'd use to punch up the flavor of salad or pasta
After she'd read Unto the Daughters, one of my fellow Italian genealogists posed an interesting question on both the PIE and COI genealogy listservs. She has given me permission to share it here with my readers.
I'm noodling an answer as I plumb my personal feelings about the differences/similarities between omerta' and la bella figura vis a vis not only the book, but in light of my decision to tell Frances' story.
With Karen Brattesani's permission, here is what she posted:
My co-author, Jill Gregory, and I both loved these two beautiful tributes to the special people our contest winners wrote about. Both capture the essence of a Lamed Vovnik, one of the 36 righteous souls born in every generation, whose goodness keeps the world in existence. Both of our contest winners received autographed copies of THE BOOK OF NAMES, WOLF RIVER, and UNTO THE DAUGHTERS.
When I was a child, May was the month of bright yellow forsythia, fuzzy fat pussy willow, and the May altars my classmates and I concocted from shoe boxes disguised with tinfoil and adorned with doilies, flowers real and artificial, and glow-in-the-dark or dashboard-sized statues of the Virgin Mary. The time of First Holy Communions and, ultimately, the pageant to crown Mary's statue at the side altar of church, May was probably the month when I first learned "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue" by Mary Dixon Thayer, a poem/prayer I memorized in grade school.
This May, I am thrilled to share the current issue of Ovunque Siamo, the online journal of New Italian-American Writing edited by Michelle Messina Reale, in which my Madonne Nere inspired riff on Thayer's poem appears.
Here is a taste of my LOVELY LADY, DARK OF HUE,:
Lovely Lady, dark of hue,
Teach me how to pray.
A god was born your little boy,
Tell me what to say
When you sat him, as he grew,
Gently on your knee
Did you sing to him the way
My mother sang to me?
Did he hold your hand at night?
Did you ever cry
Telling him stories of the world?
Ah! Then did he pry
The deepest secrets from your soul —
The name of every herb,
Of every sacred flower
You sowed to save the earth?
Lovely lady, darkly hewn
From an ancient tree....
On Sunday, April 6, 2008, I went with friends to the Detroit Opera House to see La Sonnambula -- I was not familiar with the libretto so I’d printed out a synopsis of the opera before we left, then forgot to bring it along. (I also forgot to bring Kleenex, but didn’t think I’d be in need of tissues.)
La Sonnambula is the story of a young woman, Amina, betrothed to be wed the next day. The celebration of her betrothal to Elvino is interrupted by one of the most common plot devices ever -- a stranger comes to town. This stranger (actually the village’s long absent count) showers her with compliments to the dismay of Elvino, a jealous man.
November 13, 2009, marked a century since the tragedy at the Cherry Mine. Sunday, March 15, 2009, was the official day of remembrance in Cherry, and descendants from around the world gathered to commemorate our country's worst coal mine fire.
As part of the observance, a memorial built through contributions was dedicated next to the Cherry Library. Donors purchased pavers at $150 each, which were inscribed with names of miner ancestors, family names or greetings.
On Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21, hear me chat with Florine Mark about my books, career and background on her "Remarkable Woman" radio program.
Florine and I recently spent an intense and interesting half hour taping the show in the studios of WMGC-FM. The vivacious president and chairman of the board of The WW Group, Inc. (Weight Watchers), is a warm and probing host who manages to cover a lot of territory in just a half hour. I hope you'll enjoy the interview as much as I did.
Here are the program's air times for five markets throughout Michigan