For my second installment of heirloom·modern, I found a recipe that allows me to, yet again, play with my fruit. It’s been very hard to find recipes that do not require cooking in vintage cookbooks. At first I thought I’d just be able to make a bunch of salads, but as the Times noted yesterday, the idea of the salad has changed significantly over the past five decades or so. I simply refuse to make any “salad” the requires the use of jello or pudding. Not to judge, but it’s just plain wrong.
So, when the world throws you a bunch of gelatin-enhanced salads, it’s best to ignore them completely and look for another recipe that is easily adapted to a low heat cooking solution. Luckily I found just such a meal in a wonderful old cookbook published in 1966.
Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries
This absolutely unique and delightful cookbook is divided into cooking for the seasons and gives wonderful detailed lists of what fish, meats, vegetables and fruits will be available at market. The entire de Groot family (including the family’s seeing eye dog (Mr. de Groot was hurt in the Blitz and later went blind)) contributed to the recipes.
A later book by Mr. de Groot, Recipes From The Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth, describes a trip he made to France where food was cooked with the seasons and is said to have influenced a generation of famous American chefs (including Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters). Apparently I’ve been living in a cave somewhere because this guy was seriously influential.
This intriguing recipe comes from The Family Meals Of Spring and yet it asks you to cook the pasta for 20 minutes in a 350° oven. Now, maybe it’s just me, but if it’s hot enough for blueberries to be showing up in the markets, it’s also too hot to have the oven on for that long (at any temperature). So I decided to take a slightly different tact on this one.
Since I had such wonderful luck with the risotto method of cooking pasta last time it seemed logical (if a bit risky) to employ it here. I had only heard of it being used with rather small pastas, but I can now say that yes, it does work with slightly larger shapes.
I made one pretty significant mis-step in this meal. Rather than using the wine to deglaze the pan, I added it after I had already put the pasta in the pot. What I realized after I had done this was that the pasta was cooking in the boiling wine, so I had to quickly add the stock, crank the heat down, cover the pot and allow the shells to cook. Unfortunately this imparted a raw wine flavor to the finished dish that wasn’t awful but was in the end a wee bit distracting.
So would I make this pasta again? Yes. It is delicious, gorgeous and very, very unique! I would love to make it for a dinner party to serve alongside a roasted duck or goose. I think in winter it would be a lovely dish if you replaced the blueberries with cranberries. This is definitely a keeper.
Oh, and for those in NYC (or any other city with insane real estate prices) I wanted to share this note I found nestled within the pages of this book:
49 St. E. Charming floor-thu overlooking Turtle Bay Gdns — Sublet early June – mid Sept. $300 mo. PL 3 – 7686
Head below the jump for my adaptation of Roy Andries de Groot’s Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries.
heirloom·modern: Shells With Blueberries & Red Wine
prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Cook’s Note: For modern cooks Macaroni Maruzze are #22 Medium Shells. I suppose you could use any shape pasta for this dish, but Mr. de Groot’s explanation as to why to use this shape in particular is too wonderful to ignore. “This is one of the most attractive and practical types of macaroni pasta, each piece shaped like a small sea shell, holds its share of sauce, and when the blueberries are stirred in one black pearl usually enter each maruzze oyster.” Indeed.
- 4 cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1 bunch baby Red Onions, finely sliced
- Olive Oil
- 4 tbsps Sundried Tomato or Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Red Wine
- 1/2 – 3/4 lb #22 Medium Shell pasta
- 1 can good low-fat, low salt Chicken Stock
- 1/2 pint Blueberries, washed
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
In a large dutch oven or small stock pot add a large glug of olive oil (must coat the entire bottom of the pan) over low heat. Add the garlic and onions and sweat slowly until they just begin to take on color.
Raise the heat to medium-high, add the wine and cook until reduced by at least half. Add the pasta and coat in the wine and olive oil mixture. Allow to cook until the pasta begins to give off a slightly nutty scent (or about 1-2 minutes). Add stock just to cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a bare simmer. Add half the blueberries.
Cover the pot and allow to cook about 15 minutes, checking and stirring a few times.
After 15 minutes, taste a pasta. Is there enough cooking liquid to cook the pasta all the way through in the next 10-15 minutes? If not, add more. Also, how does the cooking liquid taste (because this is what your pasta will taste like)? Does it need salt? Add some. Too sweet? Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Stir some more re-cover the pot and allow to continue cooking.
Meanwhile grate the cheese. (I find freezing the cheese for about half an hour helps in grating).
Taste the pasta again, you’ll know when it’s done. When it is, add the rest of the blueberries and stir to incorporate. The pasta should be well dressed in its own sauce. If you want, stir in some butter to make the sauce glossy and luxurious.
To serve, garnish with pine nuts, red chile flakes, fresh mint or whatever tickles your fancy, but whatever you do, don’t forget the cheese. It really brings this dish to the next level