»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Sartu di Riso: One of the Best Dishes, Ever
Mar 11th, 2017 by

The cake slipped easily out of the pan without any sticking. Just be sure to butter the Bundt pan well.

There are many recipes on RootsLiving but this one takes the cake. The giant rice cake, stuffed with sausages and meatballs covered in a velvety tomato sauce, has become a RootsLiving favorite.

I first ate it when my sister-in-law, Kathy, made it. It sounds like a heavy dish, but it’s surprisingly light: a giant arancini that has been baked, not fried. It’s an elegant, Italian dish, much like the chef herself, Giada De Laurentis — and of course, my sister-in-law, Kathy (who is Italian by marriage).

I’m glad I read the comments below Giada’s recipe. Several people recommended making twice the amount of tomato sauce and they were correct. This dish needs that much tomato sauce. I also doubled the amount of sausage and ground beef and ended up with too many meatballs (but can one really have too many meatballs?) So here’s the recipe, updated to reflect the double amounts needed to make the sauce and extra batch of meatballs.

(Note: The recipe says it takes about 2 hours, 30 minutes to make, but it took me about 3 hours. There are many steps, but it’s worth it!)

Ingredients:

What to do:

In a large saucepan combine the rice, chicken broth, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt and the bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring once, until the rice is still slightly undercooked but the liquid is absorbed, 8 minutes. Pour the rice into a large bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the cheese and 3 of the eggs until well combined, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing and break into small, bite-size pieces. Add the sausage to the hot oil and cook until browned, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, shallots and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and the shallots are soft, 1 minute. Add the basil, cheese rind and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the basil and cheese rind. Add 2 cups of the sauce to the reserved sausage and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs, the milk and the remaining 2 eggs with a fork and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Stir in the oregano, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining cup of cheese. Using your hands, mix in the beef, until just combined. Heat 1/2-inch of olive oil in a medium straight-sided pan. Scoop 1-tablespoon mounds of the mixture into damp hands and roll into uniform balls. When the oil is hot, fry the balls in 2 batches, turning them as needed with a slotted spoon to brown the balls evenly, about 4 minutes. When golden brown and crispy all around, remove the balls using a slotted spoon to the bowl with the sausage and sauce. Continue with the remaining balls, and then toss to coat evenly in the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, grease the inside of a Bundt pan or a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven, making sure to coat it very well. Dust the inside of the pan with 3 tablespoons (or more) of the breadcrumbs. Make sure it is evenly coated and there are no bald spots. This is very important to prevent sticking.

Add the peas and diced mozzarella to the meat and sauce, and toss gently to incorporate. Spoon two-thirds of the rice mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Using damp hands, press the rice evenly over the bottom of the pan and 2 1/2-inches up the sides and middle of the pan. Spoon the meat filling into the well of rice and press gently to make sure it is evenly packed. Spoon the remaining rice over the filling and, using damp hands, press the rice evenly over the filling, being sure to press the rice on top into the rice along the edges to seal. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter. Bake until lightly browned on top, 45 minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes.

Place a plate large enough to cover the top of the pan over the pan. Using heat-resistant pads or a towel, invert the sartu onto the plate. Carefully lift the pan off of the rice, shaking gently if needed. Warm the remaining sauce and fill the opening in the middle of the molded rice with the sauce to serve.

Find More Recipes in the RootsLiving Recipe Index

Bike Initiatives on a Roll North of Boston
Dec 10th, 2015 by

(We interrupt these recipes for a word about bike safety. This is an article I wrote and a video I created about bike accidents in communities north of Boston. It was published in the Boston Sunday Globe on Nov. 29, 2015.)

By Mark Micheli

It happened to cigarette smokers and drunk drivers.

Richard Fries believes the next major shift in what’s not socially acceptable will zero in on impatient motorists, bicyclists, and even pedestrians.

“It used to be acceptable to be drunk and drive,” said Fries, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. “It used to be acceptable to smoke — in a school. And here we are again. The times are changing.”

Fries said he is expecting — and fighting for — a world where bicyclists not only feel safe on the roads, but that they belong there and they matter. And he believes communities north of Boston — with a few exceptions — are working toward that end.

  • In Somerville, they’re planning the city’s first elevated bike lanes, to be separated from traffic by a curb and the sidewalk by a buffer zone with plants.
  • In Salem, they’re planning to connect the Salem State campus and the Marblehead Rail Trail to an off-road path reaching into downtown. That trail could eventually join the off-road East Coast Greenway stretching from Canada to Florida.
  • Beverly and Lowell this year adopted the Complete Streets program, which requires city engineers to consider all users when improving roadways, making accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians where appropriate.
  • There’s work being done to connect rail trails in Topsfield and Boxford, as well as trails in Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury.
  • This year, a portion of the Northern Strand Trail was built in Revere, providing the missing link to create 7½ miles of continuous off-road riding from Everett, through Malden, Revere, and Saugus, to the Lynn line.

For Fries, it’s all about the realization that many bicyclists ride not for recreation, but out of necessity to get to jobs, schools, to shop, or simply to use their cars less. And that, he said, is why off-road trails, in combination with on-road accommodations, are needed.

“We’re not talking about working out,’’ he said. “We’re talking about expanding people’s radius of unmotorized travel to about a 3-mile radius.

“Imagine if they built 5 miles of the interstate highway and then you had to drive 10 miles more to get to the next section? That’s where we’re at right now in the construction of bike facilities.”

Somerville, he said, leads the regional pack on bike-friendly accommodations, with more than 30 miles of painted bike lanes, eight bike boxes — areas painted on roadways where bicyclists can wait in front of motorists for the light to change — and a police department more concerned with why someone violated a road rule than issuing citations.

“Our police force is so good at this,’’ said Brad Rawson, the city’s director of transportation and infrastructure. “I see it all the time in my daily commute.”

“They ask them ‘Why are you running a red light? Why are you riding a bicycle the wrong way down a street? Why are you crossing mid-block?’ Those types of things,” said Bonnie Polin, chief safety analyst with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. MassDOT gave $40,000 to Somerville this year for extra police details to work at problem intersections. She said some safety improvements have come from the answers police get.

The 12 communities the state chose for the extra details program — a list that includes Salem, Haverhill, and Lynn — have the highest ratio of bicycle and pedestrian crashes compared with total accidents, Polin said.

Somerville has some of the region’s worst hot spots for bicycle accidents: Four of the state’s top 10 bicycle crash clustersare in the city. Overall, according to MassDOT statistics, Somerville has 13 such clusters where 589 accidents occurred from 2004 through 2013. One was deadly; 382 others involved injuries.

The city seems to be zeroing in on the problem spots; the plan to build elevated bike lanes along Beacon Street, from Inman Square to Cambridge’s Porter Square, is one of the solutions officials envision. Some 300 bicyclists per hour travel that route during morning and evening rush hours, said Rawson.

In Lynn, both the severity of bike problems and the city’s response are quite different. The city doesn’t make the top 10 list on accidents, but it is home to three bicycle crash clusters where 41 accidents occurred from 2004 through 2013. Twenty-four of those accidents involved injuries, and one a death.

There are no plans to fix those spots, said James Marsh, the city’s community development director, who said that narrow roadways make such work all but impossible. He said Lynn is instead focused on a much larger project to develop its waterfront, which would include three pedestrian bridges over the Lynnway, where he said two or three people have been killed in recent years. Those plans, however, are years from design and completion.

To Fries, Lynn is the least bike-friendly community north of Boston. It has no bike lanes, he said, and is the last holdout to approve the Northern Strand Trail from Everett to Nahant Beach. Similarly, Swampscott is the last town to agree to completion of the Marblehead Rail Trail, which some abutters — not town officials — are delaying. Filling in those two gaps would create an off-road path from the North Shore into Boston.

Barbara Jacobson, who works with municipal officials as program manager at the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, said there is little political will in Lynn to support bicycling. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy did not respond to interview requests for this story.

Still, the city has taken some safety steps. It took part in the program that provided money for more detail officers at dangerous intersections, said Lynn Police Sergeant Ned Shinnick, and it conducted two bicycle and pedestrian safety audits. In addition, it will likely add shared bicycle/motorist lane markings on Lynnfield Street as part of a new project.

Some communities require a push to become more bike-friendly. Last year, Lowell considered removing newly painted bike lanes from Father Morissette Boulevard, but bike advocates fought back, packing a City Council hearing. Now the city is working on better markings for those lanes, said Nicolas Bosonetto, Lowell transportation engineer.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue,’’ said Bosonetto. “As more people come back to the urban center they’re expecting more amenities, more walkability, more bicycling accommodations, more transit.”

“I believe the next frontier in bicycle advocacy is not the hip, happening, Boulder, Colo., Portland, Ore., Cambridge, Somerville, Manhattan,” said Fries. “I think it’s the Brocktons, and the Lynns, and the Lowells. Those are the communities where folks can really use good basic bike infrastructure.”

Bicycle safety improvements underway north of Boston

Beverly

  • Road projects considering bicyclists and pedestrians are planned for Bridge Street; the Beverly/Salem bridge; Routes 97 and 1A; and River Street.
  • Bike lanes to be painted on Brimble Avenue, with plans to add shared bicycle/pedestrian paths.
  • Signs, shared lane markings, and possible traffic-calming measures are planned for Cabot Street.

Haverhill

  • Improvements along the Merrimack River and boardwalk will include accommodations for bicyclists, pedestrians.

Lowell

  • Plans to connect off-road paths.
  • Working with state to make VFW Highway safer for all users.
  • Working with UMass Lowell to make Pawtucket Street safer for bicyclists, pedestrians. ? Safety improvements at VFW Highway/Bridge Street intersection, including realigning road and shortening pedestrian bridge.
  • Planned redevelopment project to make Lowell Overpass safer.

Lynn

  • Planned waterfront project could include three pedestrian bridges over Lynnway and boardwalk connecting to Lynn Shore Drive.
  • Shared bicycle/motorist lane markings on Lynnfield Street.

Salem

  • Accommodations along Bridge Street to the train station.
  • More bike lanes planned for Lafayette Street (Route 114).
  • Off-road path planned along Canal Street to connect Salem State campus and the Marblehead Rail Trail to the downtown.

Somerville

  • Spring construction start planned for first elevated bike lanes, along Beacon Street from Cambridge’s Porter Square to Inman Square.
  • Safety improvements for Holland Street south of Teele Square. ? Safety improvements are being studied for Elm Street near Davis Square.

SOURCES: Cities, towns, and the Mass. Bicycle Coalition.

Mark Micheli can be reached at markfmiceli@gmail.com.

Go Figure! Entrepreneur Uses 3D Printers To Make Sculptures Of You
Feb 17th, 2015 by

By Mark Micheli
(This story ran in the Feb. 17, 2015 edition of the Boston Globe.)

You don’t have to be a psychotic villain, plotting world domination while stroking a hairless cat in your lap, to want a “Mini-Me.”

Entrepreneur Yifei Zhang is betting the market for his lifelike figurines extends beyond characters from an Austin Powers movie.

A few of Yifei Zhang’s sandstone figurines, created from 3D imaging. (Pat Greenhouse Photo/Globe Staff)

A few of Yifei Zhang’s sandstone figurines, created from 3D imaging. (Pat Greenhouse Photo/Globe Staff)

Zhang, 28, of Malden, owns 3D Bean, which makes lifelike sandstone figurines by using 3D printing technology. He spent the past year developing a technique that uses 90 cameras to create 3D images in a small office in Malden Square. He is now ready to start marketing his services from a studio in Boston’s South End, where he is hoping to get more exposure.

“This product is very similar to a photo. It saves a moment in time and that is its value,” Zhang said. “It’s not just sandstone. It’s a moment that you won’t be able to capture again.”

The statues range in price from $319 to $1,299, and range in height from about 4 inches to 11-½ inches. Zhang said they are targeted at brides and grooms, parents of young children, pet owners — or anyone else who wants to capture a special moment.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson and his sandstone figurine. (Wendy Maeda Photo/Globe Staff)

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson and his sandstone figurine. (Wendy Maeda Photo/Globe Staff)

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson bought two figurines of himself and gave them to his mother and sister during the holidays. He said his mother put hers in a glass case.

“As mayor, I don’t see my family as much as I would like, so I presented the gifts as a way for them to never lose touch with me,” Christenson joked. “You go through a lot of gifts around the holiday season but that one left them laughing like I’ve never seen before. My sister was speechless and she’s never, ever at a loss for words.”

Zhang uses 90 entry-level, Canon DSLR cameras, placed strategically in a circle, to take 90 images of a subject. Those photos are stitched together with software to create a 3D image. He then uploads the image to a 3D printing website, such asShapeways or Sculpteo, which prints out the statue and ships it.

Although the business model of using a third-party 3D printing company is not unusual, using sandstone as a material is quite different, said Anthony Vicari, who studies the 3D printing industry for Lux Research, an international company with offices in Boston.

Vicari said he knows of a few companies that make personal figurines using plastic or even paper and glue, but hasn’t heard of anyone using sandstone. A company called Corbel, in Vancouver, uses sandstone to create figurines that look identical to the type 3D Bean makes, but Zhang believes he is the only company in the Boston area doing this. He uses sandstone because the color is applied as the figurine is being built, not painted on later.

Yifei Zhang and his former studio in Malden, where he used 70 cameras to capture 3D images of his subjects. His new studio includes 90 digital cameras. (Pat Greenhouse Photo/Globe Staff)

Yifei Zhang and his former studio in Malden, where he used 70 cameras to capture 3D images of his subjects. His new studio includes 90 digital cameras. (Pat Greenhouse Photo/Globe Staff)

Zhang’s subjects have to remain still only for as long as it takes to snap one photo; all 90 cameras fire at once. He said he has a patent pending for a circular cage where cameras can be mounted without fear of them being accidently moved.

Somerville resident Christian Nachtrieb, who owns Brighter Lights Media, did some promotional videos for Zhang and as part of that process had a figurine of his dog made. Harvey is a 67-pound rescue boxer/pit bull mix who is a bit skittish, but his photo session only took about seven or eight minutes, Nachtrieb said.

“The bright lights kind of scared him but any normal, non-rescue dog that wasn’t traumatized shouldn’t have a problem,” he said. He noted that Harvey was recently treated for thyroid cancer and, although recent tests showed the cancer was gone, he wanted the figurine as a keepsake.

“A pet’s lifespan is so much shorter and instead of having just a picture, a figurine is so much better,” Nachtrieb said.

Vicari said more than half of the $2.3 billion 3D market involves industrial uses. The consumer 3D printing market is still in its infancy

“We’ve only started seeing products being made with 3D printing in the past five to 10 years,” Vicari said.

Although some 3D printers sell for only a few hundred dollars, printers that can make something that is actually functional cost several thousand dollars, according to Vicari. Zhang said he doesn’t have his own 3D printer because it would cost him about $80,000.

Zhang tried to raise $20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign last fall but he fell about $7,000 short of his goal. According to Kickstarter’s rules, he collected nothing. Instead he used his personal savings and got his parents in China and his fiancée to invest in his business. But first he had to educate them about 3D printing.

“My mother had no idea about 3D printing,” Zhang said. “But once I could make my parents understand what it is I am doing, they really believed this is something that could have a bright future.”

He said his next challenge is to educate consumers. Zhang, who earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University in 2012, said his expertise is technical and he’ll probably need a partner — “maybe one of my friends” — who can do the marketing.

Christenson said he believes there is a market for this and he became convinced of it after a few photos of his “Mini-Me” were posted on his Facebook page. He said the comments were extremely positive.

“People were stunned just by the clarity and how lifelike it looks,” he said.

Forget the Snow, It’s Stew-A-Palooza - 2015
Jan 27th, 2015 by

(This is one of my favorite recipes from the weekly Dorm Room Chef series I produced during 2014. It’s steak pizzaiola made in a slow cooker: easy and delicious. Watch the video above, or read the recipe here.)

Here’s a collection of stews I compiled from good restaurants and cookbooks. I’ve made them all and enjoyed eating them more. Hopefully, you’ll have some of these ingredients on hand so you can make one of these dishes. But if not, watch the video and look at the pretty photos. It will warm you up more than looking at snow photos on Facebook.

The governor of Massachusetts declared a snow emergency and I’m declaring it stew-a-palooza — 2015!

STEWS TO MAKE ON A COLD WINTER DAY

  1. Geneva’s Quick Chicken And Shrimp Gumbo
  2. Shrimp Saute
  3. Easy Beef Bourguignon
  4. Coq Au Vin Blanc (The same as Easy Beef Bourguignon, only with chicken)
  5. Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon
  6. Blanquette De Veau (French Veal Stew)
  7. Lobster Stew
  8. Steak Pizzaiola

French Onion Soup From A Master Chef
Jan 30th, 2014 by

In France they just call this onion soup.

In France they just call this onion soup.

One of my favorite cookbooks is one I picked up in Paris more than 20 years ago. I got it in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens: one of my favorite spots for coffee and a walk.

It’s written by French chef Paul Bocuse and it’s called “French Home Cooking.” It has the best French Onion Soup recipe: one that’s easy and pretty quick too.

Don’t worry about making your own beef stock just buy your favorite store brand. Although you don’t need individual soup crocks it’s fun to have them and you can probably pick up some cheap at a dollar store, the Christmas Tree Shop, Target, Sears or online at Amazon and eBay.

Stir the onions from time to time as they cook.

Stir the onions from time to time as they cook.

Ingredients:

  • Butter (2 ounces)
  • Onions (About two medium, peeled and sliced into circles)
  • Flour (About one ounce)
  • Beef Stock (or bouillon or even water. I’ve never used water but Mr. Bocuse says it works) (About 2 1/2 pints)
  • French Bread (Two slices per serving, toasted)
  • Gruyere Cheese (About 3 1/2 ounces grated)
  • Pepper (To taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (About an ounce)
  • Port (optional) (About 1/4 cup)

Preparation:

Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan.

Add onions, breaking them into rings. Cook until lightly brown or just starting to turn lightly brown.

Stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn’t stick.

When flour starts to turn brown add the beef stock and stir constantly. Cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in (optional) port about half-way through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a soup tureen or in separate french onion soup crocks create two or three layers of the following: bread, cheese, pepper and sliver of butter.

Add soup.

Then top it off with breadcrumbs and more cheese.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and breadcrumbs have browned.

Serve immediately.

Find more recipes in the Recipe index.

More Provence: La Tourte de Blettes
Feb 6th, 2013 by

The finished dish. La Tourte De Blettes translates to Swiss Chard Pie.

La Tourte De Blettes translates to Swiss Chard Pie. But don't let that fool you. This can be served as a sweet dessert or the main course for a light supper.

Here’s a savory sweet pastry from southern France. I made this from a recipe card I picked up in the market in St. Remy last summer. Although there was an English translation, it wasn’t that good and so I had to figure out a few things, including the conversion of some measurements from grams to ounces.

I also used a 10-inch round springform pan instead of an 11 x 8 x 1 inch tart pan (who has one of those?) and so there was leftover dough to make a few apple turnovers.

Although the mixture of ingredients may sound strange — mixing swiss chard with raisins and parmesan cheese — they work well together to create a dish that can be served as a main course with a salad or as a dessert. It’s a sweet and savory tried-and-true classic that has been enjoyed in Provence for many generations.

The torte before the top layer of dough was put on.

The torte before the top layer of dough was put on.

Ingredients for the pastry dough:

  • Flour (About 4 1/2 cups)
  • Eggs (2 large)
  • Sugar (2/3 cup)
  • Butter (2 sticks or 8 oz. of softened butter)
  • Salt (just a pinch)
  • Water (About 1/2 cup or a little more; just enough to make the dough)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • Swiss chard (1 bunch or about a dozen large leaves)
  • Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup, grated)
  • Brown Sugar (3/4 cup)
  • Golden Raisins (4 oz., I used regular dark raisins but the recipe calls for light golden ones)
  • Marc or Grappa (Just enough to cover the raisins to marinate them.)
  • Olive oil (1 tablespoon)
  • Pine nuts (4 oz.)
  • Eggs (2 large)
  • Apples (about 1-2 large, peeled and sliced)
  • Powered sugar (just enough to dust the torte after it’s cooked).

I used the leftover dough from the tart to make a couple of apple turnovers.

I used the leftover dough from the tart to make a couple of apple turnovers. See recipe below.

What I did:

Combine all of the ingredients for the pastry dough in a small bowl, adding the water a little bit at a time at the end until most of the flour and ingredients are absorbed and a good ball of dough is formed.

Turn out the ball of dough onto a floured board and knead several times until the ingredients are mixed well and a smooth dough is formed. Form a ball with the dough, put it back in the bowl, cover with a towel and put in a cool place (the refrigerator is a good spot). Let rest about an hour.

Soak the raisins in either Marc or Grappa in a small bowl. Let rest about an hour.

Wash the swiss chard and strip it from its stem (you can throw out the stems or save for another day). An easy way to do this is to make your hand like a cat’s claw and drag the stem between your forefinger and middle finger. Boil swiss chard in a covered pot for just a few minutes. Take it out. Drain well and chop it. Place it in a bowl.

Drain the raisins and add to the bowl with the swiss chard. Add all other filling ingredients, except for the apples and powdered sugar, and mix well.

Butter your tart tin or springform pan.

Cut pastry dough into two equal pieces. Roll out one of the pieces on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until it’s flat (about 1/4 inch thick). Cut dough to fit your tart tin or springform pan with some dough coming up the sides. Press the bottom and sides of the pan with the dough.

Add the filling. Top with the peeled and sliced apples.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough. Place it ontop being careful to seal the ends by pinching it all around. Take a fork and prick the top so that steam can escape while it cooks.

Place in a 350 oven until golden. This took about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check it from time to time to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Cool on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes a good light supper with a salad or serve after dinner as a fine dessert.

(APPLE TURNOVER BONUS: If you have left over dough, simply roll it out. On one half, add peeled and sliced apples with some brown sugar, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a slice of butter. Roll over other half of dough to cover apples. Seal edges. Brush with cream or milk. Prick with fork to create several steam holes and cook in a 350 oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Makes a nice after-school or after-work snack).

Other recipes from our trip to southern France include:

Find more recipes in the Food section.

»  ©2010 RootsLiving; Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa