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How To Make Romeo Salta’s Easter Salad

Romeo Salta’s Easter Salad

Frank Originally Published On 27 March 2021antipasti38 Comments

Romeo Salta's Easter Salad

Romeo Salta was a renowned restauranteur back in the 1950s through the 1980s. His swank namesake Manhattan restaurant attracted luminaries from the worlds of business, politics, and entertainment.

My father, who was quite the buongustaio back in the day, used to take our family there from time to time when I was a kid. It was a thrill to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. But Romeo Salta was also my first introduction to Italian food other than Angelina’s Neapolitan cookery. Salta served what was at the time called “Northern Italian” food. That was the rather ludicrous catch-all phrase used at the time for any regional Italian cuisine besides the ones from Naples and points south brought to America by the mass immigration of the early 20th century. These cuisines from central and northern Italy were new and different and became very fashionable. So-called northern Italian food was considered “lighter”, and certainly more “sophisticated”, than the southern Italian cookery Americans were familiar with, although that wasn’t really the case.

In 1962, Romeo Salta wrote a cookbook for anyone who wanted to try recreating the dishes he served up at his restaurant. The book, called The Pleasures of Italian Cooking, didn’t have much of an impact on the way Americans actually cooked. For that, we would have to wait another 11 years, for Marcella Hazan’s landmark Classic Italian Cookbook, published in 1973. Still, Salta’s cookbook is a piece of culinary history, the first cookbook published in America to present “real” Italian cookery. (The first such book in the English language had probably been Elizabeth David’s Italian Food, published in the UK about eight years before Salta’s book.)

I recently inherited my mother’s copy of The Pleasures of Italian Cooking. What surprised me the most, given Romeo Salta’s glamorous reputation, was just how homey most of the recipes are. Antipasti like mozzarella in carrozza and fagioli e tonno. First courses like zuppa di scarola e fagiolignocchispaghetti aglio e oliocarbonarapolenta pasticciata, and risotto alla milanese. Second courses like saltimboccabollito mistopollo e peperonifrittata… In other words, everyday home cooking—and from all corners of Italy, not just the center and north.

I did find one recipe that appears to be Romeo’s own creation. Dubbed Insalata di Pasqua or Easter Salad, it’s lightly blanched green peas, garnished with ham, anchovies, and olives, and dressed with a citronette enriched with hard-boiled egg yolk. It sounded intriguing and certainly seasonal, so I gave it a go, playing with the recipe a bit to suit my own tastes.

I was well pleased with the results. Other than a Russian Salad, I’d never tried using green peas in a salad, and never with a simple oil-based dressing. It worked beautifully. The fresh taste of the peas was complemented by the savory ham and other garnishes. The salad was filling yet light. And it was rather pretty to look at, too. All in all, a fitting antipasto to begin Easter dinner.

So if you feel like a little bit of nostalgia this Easter, why not give Romeo Salta’s Easter Salad a try?

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb (500 grams) frozen peas, blanched, drained, and cooled
  • 1/4 lb (150 grams) cooked ham, cut into cubes
  • One head of Boston lettuce

For the garnish:

  • A few anchovy fillets
  • Olives, green and black
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
  • The juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Blanch the peas in boiling water. Just let the water come back to the boil and let it simmer for perhaps a minute, then drain in a large colander. Rinse the peas in cold water to stop the cooking, then let them drain until they are perfectly dry.

Line a salad bowl with the Boston lettuce leaves, using as many as you need to line your bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, mix the drained peas and cubed ham together, then pile the mixture on top of the salad leaves.

Arrange the anchovy fillets, olives and, if using, wedges of hard-boiled egg on top of the peas and ham.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients until they are perfectly emulsified. Taste and adjust for seasoning, then pour over the salad.

Serve immediately.

Romeo Salta's Easter Salad

Notes on Romeo Salta’s Easter Salad

Truth be told, as fascinating as it is as a piece of culinary history, The Pleasures of Italian Cooking is not always a pleasure to cook from. Salta’s instructions are fairly telegraphic, typical of many Italian cookbooks. But more to the point, a good number of his recipes, such as the one for peperoni alla piemontese, simply do not work. (Yes, I tried.) In others, the measurements seem off, such as his recipe for sedani alla parmigiana, which calls for braising three bunches of celery in a half-cup of stock. I wonder if he tested—or even proofread—his recipes?

Salta’s Original Recipe

This Easter Salad recipe also needed some interpretation. Here are his verbatim instructions:

Put peas on the bottom of a salad bowl. Arrange the anchovies and ham over them, then lettuce wedges around the edge of the bowl. Beat together the oil, [hard boiled] egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over ingredients in the bowl. Garnish with olives.

Good luck with that! If you followed these cryptic instructions to the letter you would wind up with something rather odd. So as you can see, I played around. For one thing, I used the lettuce as a bed rather than an edging. Salta doesn’t specify the type of lettuce, but given the period and his instruction to cut it into wedges, I’m guessing iceberg. I used whole leaves of Boston lettuce instead.

And then I mixed the ham, cut into cubes with the peas rather than laying slices of it on top. Rather than using a whole can of anchovies as Salta calls for, I used enough to make a cross on top, symbolic of Easter. And rather than adding hard-boiled egg yolks to the dressing, which struck me as probably unsightly, I used whole hard-boiled eggs—also an Easter tradition—cut into wedges, as part of the garnish.

On Romeo Salta and his restaurant

Romeo Salta himself was born a southerner, in Puglia in 1904. After his father died when he was six, Salta was raised in a state-run orphanage in Florence. He had no formal culinary training, learning his trade working as a kitchen boy on several Italian cruise lines. Arriving penniless in New York in 1924, he made his living for a few years doing menial work at various hotels around town. After a stint in the midwest, he moved to Los Angeles in 1933, founding a restaurant called Chianti in 1938. After a low start, Ed Sullivan stopped for dinner one night and wrote about it in his newspaper column. Chianti soon began to attract celebrities like Lucille Ball and Errol Flynn. Salta’s career finally took off.

Returning to New York in 1951, Salta opened a place called Mercurio with a partner, then branched out on his own in 1953 with his storied namesake restaurant on West 56th Street. At a time when Italian restaurants were synonymous with red-checkered tablecloths with candles stuck in straw-covered Chianti bottles, his elegant ambiance and offerings of Italian food as it was and is cooked in its native land were a revelation.

You can read more about Romeo Salta in his 1998 New York Times obituary.

A funny story…

A great part of the fun going to Romeo Salta was the chance to catch a glimpse of its rich and famous patrons. I remember, for instance, we once sat next to an elderly James Farley, who had been FDR’s campaign director, Postmaster General, and later head of Coca-Cola International. Since the tables were close together, he and Dad struck up a conversation, and we got to hear a few of his fascinating reminiscences.

But the most memorable moment from our visits to Romeo Salta was seeing Raymond Burr. He was an actor best known for playing Perry Mason in the eponymous 1960s TV series and later “Ironside”, a wheelchair-bound detective for the San Francisco police force, in the 1970s. We happened to be seated near the entrance to the restaurant. From our table, we could see the patrons coming in and out. Well, in saunters Mr. Burr. One of my sisters, who was a big fan of Ironside at the time, blurts out—well within earshot mind you—” Look, it’s Ironsides! It’s Ironsides!” We all squirmed in embarrassment, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. As soon as he was out of sight, I turned and replied: “Yeah, and it must be a miracle, ’cause he’s walking!”

Romeo Salta's Easter Salad

 Print Recipe

Romeo Salta’s Easter Salad

Course: AntipastoCuisine: Italian, Italian-AmericanKeyword: salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 500g frozen peas blanched, drained, and cooled
  • 1/4 lb 150 g cooked ham cut into cubes
  • 1 head Boston lettuce

For the garnish:

  • A few anchovy fillets
  • Olives green and/or black
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs cut into wedges (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup 125 ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Blanch the peas in boiling water. Just let the water come back to the boil and let it simmer for perhaps a minute, then drain in a large colander. Rinse the peas in cold water to stop the cooking, then let them drain until they are perfectly dry.
  • Line a salad bowl with the Boston lettuce leaves, using as much as you need to line your bowl.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, mix the drained peas and cubed ham together, then pile the mixture on top of the salad leaves.
  • Arrange the anchovy fillets, olives and, if using, wedges of hard-boiled egg on top of the peas and ham.
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients until they are perfectly emulsified. Taste and adjust for seasoning, then pour over the salad.
  • Serve immediately.

Related:

Romeo Salta, Dining Pioneer In Manhattan, Is Dead at 93 – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The Pleasures of Italian Cooking: Romeo Salta, Roberto Caramico, Myra Waldo: 9780026067904: Amazon.com: Books


How To Make Seafood Lasagna with Lemon Cream Sauce

Seafood Freeform Lasagna with Lemon Cream Sauce

FEBRUARY 5, 2021 BY MARIE3 (Originally Posted on 02/05/21)

 

seafood lasagna

 

 


If you’re looking for a special date night dinner, something a little fancy but not so hard to make try this seafood freeform lasagna, what makes it even more special is the subtle lemon cream sauce that’s spooned all over.

This is the perfect dinner to have on Valentine’s Day which is coming up soon and I’m quite sure many of us will be dining at home. This is meant for two people but you can certainly double the recipe for more to enjoy if need be.

I used a mix of scallops and shrimp in this easy freeform lasagna, which is highlighted with a touch of Limoncello for a smack of bright lemon flavor! 

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chopped shrimp and scallops

The prep work is all done in advance so when it’s time to eat all you have to do is pop your dish into the oven, warm it up and get that golden top.

You’ll be spending all your time with your date instead of cooking and cleaning in the kitchen all night, and that’s a good thing!

filling ramekins

The lemon sauce is very light, you can use half lemon juice and half Limoncello or just all lemon juice. I wouldn’t do all Limoncello because that would be too sweet tasting and overpower the seafood.

If lemon is not your thing, you can make a nice white sauce to top it off like a béchamel, that would be equally as delicious and creamy to top it off.

Cut your lasagna noodles to fit into individual ramekins if using or if you end up using a bigger dish,  it doesn’t have to fit perfectly.

seafood filled ramekins

Then you’re going to layer all that amazing seafood on top. It’s a delicious mix of chopped scallops, shrimp, garlic, shallots with a little ricotta and mascarpone for creaminess and to help bind it all.

shrimp and scallop lasagna

Save some whole shrimp for garnish it makes a striking presentation. This can be served alongside a beautiful salad or if you really want to go all out, a steak for some surf and turf!

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Print A date night or Valentine’s Day dinner for you and your special someone.

Author: Marie

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. seafood, I used a combo of ½ lb. shrimp and ½ lb. scallops, you can also use all shrimp or any combo of your choice, peeled and deveined leaving a couple of whole shrimp or scallops for garnish
  • 6 lasagna sheets, pre-boiled
  • SEAFOOD MIXTURE INGREDIENTS
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, small dice
  • 2 large garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chopped parsley, extra for garnish
  • ¼ cup of ricotta
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mascarpone cream
  • 1 tablespoon, limoncello in the seafood mix or use 1 tablespoon, lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE LEMON CREAM SAUCE
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter and extra to butter your ramekins
  • 2 Tablespoons, Limoncello ( or use all lemon juice to make up the 4 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Pre-boil your lasagne noodles, according to the time directions on the box, cool them down, and set them aside.
  2. Chop up your seafood into bite-size pieces, making sure to clean your shrimp beforehand, and setting aside 1 or 2 for garnish.
  3. For the whole shrimp garnish, season them and stick into a 420F oven until cooked through, then set aside.
  4. Butter 2 -6 inch” ramekins or 1- 12 inch”
  5. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a sauté pan, add the shallot and garlic till soft then toss in the chopped seafood, tossing gently till cooked. Don’t overcook!
  6. Add 1 Tablespoon of Limoncello to the mix or lemon juice as well as the parsley.
  7. Let the mixture cool down then add the ricotta and mascarpone, folding it in and mixing it till incorporated.
  8. Make your lemon cream sauce by placing both Limoncello, ( 2 tablespoons) and lemon juice( 2 tablespoons) in a small saucepan together ( or use all lemon juice( 4 tablespoons).
  9. Once warm whisk in your butter.
  10. When the butter melts in add the heavy cream gently stirring on low heat until the cream thickens.
  11. NOW FOR ASSEMBLY
  12. Line the bottom of your ramekins with a few cooked lasagna noodles, cutting them if need be to fit.
  13. Spread a little of the lemon cream sauce on the noodles.
  14. Divide your seafood mix between the two ramekins and spread on top of the pasta.
  15. Use the remaining lasagna noodles to fit over the top of the seafood mixture.
  16. Spoon some of the lemon sauce all around.
  17. This all can be prepped ahead of time.
  18. When you’re ready to serve you can place the ramekins under your broiler to warm it up and get some golden color on top, but if you do you can’t walk away!
  19. Stay near the oven broiler and keep checking to make sure it doesn’t burn,.
  20. You can also heat them in the oven at 375 just til heated through, ovens vary so keep checking, it won’t take too long, and remember everything is cooked already.
  21. If you want a little more golden on top, stick it under the broiler for that, but again do not walk away!
  22. Spoon some of the lemon cream on top to finish, garnish with chopped parsley and top it off with the whole cooked shrimp.
  23. Enjoy!
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Related:

Proud Italian Cook – Home Cooking, Italian American Style

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Why are Espresso Cups So Small? 4 Interesting Facts

SEPTEMBER 16, 2020

COFFEE FACTS

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Espresso is an integral part of many coffee lover’s daily life! We sip it at anytime you want and just enjoy the natural aromas and scents that comes from it.

But have you ever wondered why are espresso cups so small? This is something that has plagued our minds, so we decided to do a bit of research and answer the question for you and ourselves.

Before we get into answering the question, we got to cover a bit of background about Espresso. Espresso is served in a delicate small mug in which the coffee with a frothy layer on top, usually the foam from the brewing process.

Espresso is brewed with a blend of hot water under intense pressure. To make the best espresso, the beans of coffee should be ground into very fine powder.

You cannot use gritty, grainy coffee powder into the machine. This finely ground powder is compressed into a compact lump. It is not strong coffee but a flavorful espresso using a different preparation method.

Now that we got some basics about espresso out the way, we can cover off the main question then followed with some additional things you may not know about espresso.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Why are espresso cups so small?What size should an espresso cup be?How quickly should you drink espresso?Why is espresso so strong?Final Thoughts

WHY ARE ESPRESSO CUPS SO SMALL (1)

Why are espresso cups so small?

Espresso is made by pressing coffee and it has a crema layer on top to lock the aroma within the espresso.

To sustain this crema, the espresso cups are made small and the reason they are served in small cups is to avoid the creme layer to spread out!

Falling or dissipating crema can also make the espresso cold. Espresso is thicker and consists of lesser water as compared to a drip coffee. It is caffeine packed and flavorful into a small cup.

Some primary aspects of espresso cups being small are:

  • Crema, which is a foam layer forms on the top of an expresso. It is decorated on the top of the espresso. Espresso and cream make the cup. Selecting a large wide cup can result in the dissolving of crema. Crema is very important in making expresso perfect. Crema becomes very thin and gradually dissipates in a large cup.
  • Espresso is also very concentrated, and so you can say it is a shrunken form of coffee and a strong one in a small cup. A small cup itself tastes very strong, so much that it can use 7oz. of milk for 1 oz. of espresso.
  • A typical espresso is about 1-2 fluid ounces, which is right in a small cup.
  •  Espresso is about getting less water in a coffee that is too topped with foam crema.

Espresso in a small cup is just the right way to enjoy it. Its concentration, water content, and crema are in the right proportions in typical cup size.

why are espresso cups so small

Related Article:Is ground Coffee Instant Coffee

What size should an espresso cup be?

An espresso cup is of a typical size of 2-3 fluid ounces and the cup size is about half of the regular cup of coffee.

Hence, the espresso cup is also termed as “Demitasse Cup” in French, which is nothing but half a cup. The espresso cups are about 2-2 and 1/2 inches tall.

This is because if the cup is bigger, then there is a high chance of crema spreading out and unlocking the expressing aroma. Not only this, once crema splits, but it also spreads out and thins.

This eventually makes the crema disappear fast. A large cup impacts the espresso temperature as well. This makes the espresso turn cold very quickly.

Below we will take at each cup size with its standard and metric equivalents to get a better picture:

  • One cup means 2 ounces or 59 ml
  • Two cups mean 4 ounces or 118ml
  • Three cups mean 6 ounces or 177ml
espresso cup sizes

Related Article: How does a Drip Coffee Maker Work?

How quickly should you drink espresso?

Espresso, as the name suggests, should be made quick and also had quickly to get the best flavor, taste, and aroma. It should be drunk with “crema” on top.

What is crema? It is the creamy coffee oil emulsion that covers the espresso. It is a covering lid for espresso beneath. This way, all the espresso aromas are locked within to enjoy while drinking.

This emulsion is essential as the aroma dissipates fast. But then, how quickly should it be drunk to get overall espresso pleasure?

An espresso cup, traditionally, which is about 1-2 fl. ounces of coffee, should take about 25 seconds to get excellent espresso. But, when it comes to drinking it, to enjoy its flavor and aroma, but without making it cold, it would need around 2 minutes to sip an espresso cup.

Drink the espresso with crema layer on top to lock in the aroma without dissipation.

Take your espresso in three or more than three sips in about 30 seconds to as much as 4 minutes also. This time is particularly applicable for a double espresso shot.

The duration depends on how well you want to savor the drink with its flavors and aroma. It is essential to remember that a long time doesn’t mean more taste like the aroma and crema to dissipate with a longer time.

The time mentioned is sufficient enough to enjoy the espresso to the fullest. Beyond which, you are bound to get a cold, taste-fading espresso.

Related Article: Best Coffee Maker with Espresso

Why is espresso so strong?

Espresso is high in concentration and, therefore, can appear stronger as compared to regular coffee. It can also taste bitter than a regular brewed coffee.

But, the coffee strength is determined by the method and level of roasting of coffee beans and not how it is brewed.

Generally, coffee beans are roasted at three levels- Dark, medium, and light roast. Dark roast is done at 225 deg C to 230 deg C, medium roast is done at 210 deg C to 219 deg C, and the light roast is done at 196 deg C to 205 deg C temperatures.

The more the roasting of coffee beans, the enhanced will be its taste. On the same lines, the dark coffee roast is most strong of all coffee types.

An espresso made out of these dark roast of coffee beans results in a strong espresso as compared to regular coffee.

Final Thoughts

From the article above, we can see why a small cup is essential and important to get a perfect espresso. It is very important as a small cup with foamy crema keeps the espresso aroma, temperature, and flavor intact

The crema is very important to be thick and covering the coffee fluid. A larger cup can make the crema fall out, thin out, and eventually disappear.

This, in turn, makes the espresso flavorless, aroma less, and cold. Who would want to have a compromised, flavorless, and cold espresso? Get your typical small espresso cup and take pleasure in each sip.