Sorella Restaurant Cookbook, Our Cookbook of the Week
All photos courtesy Olive Press.
Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York's best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we'll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.
Sorella: Recipes, Cocktails & True Stories from our New York Restaurant, By Emma Hearst and Sarah Krathen, 239 pages, Olive Press, $35
On a devil-may-care stretch of Allen Street, Emma Hearst and Sarah Krathen, both fresh out of culinary school, opened Sorella (Italian for "Sister") the night before Thanksgiving, 2008. They were barely 25, but mature dishes like braised oxtail risotto and roast guinea hen with a rounded wine list to match seduced early diners and garnered accolades from critics and neighborhood residents alike. Their little restaurant--its three dimly lit, narrow rooms tucked into the fringe of Chinatown--quickly became a standby for dates, celebrations, or Tuesday night dinner: a twinkly jewel among fixture shops and dumpling houses.
Last night, Hearst and Krathen celebrated the release of their restaurant cookbook (available October 29), a delightful tome to the food of Piedmont with a light heart and a heavy dose of whimsy.
Below, Krathen dishes on the virtues of old-school Piedmont cooking, Gramercy Tavern, and squash, and shares a beloved Sorella recipe. If you're hungry for more, catch Krathen and Hearst Wednesday at the Columbus Circle Williams Sonoma for a cooking demo and book signing at 6 p.m.
What is the oldest recipe in this book and where did it come from? The Acciughe al Verde; it's a classic Piedmont recipe and we adapted it from the Nona Genia cookbook. It's an anchovy dish with all these classic components; it came from the Ligurian anchovy trade and all the different uses of the anchovy.
If you could give one piece of cooking advice to the world, what would it be and why? Cook with your heart. To make great food, it can't just be about being technical; it has to come from an emotional place.
What cook(s), living or dead, do you most admire and why? Michael Anthony at Gramercy Tavern. He keeps food in its natural state; he doesn't try to mess with things. If it's a mushroom, he lets it be a mushroom, he doesn't try to make it be anything else.
What's your go-to seasonal ingredient right now, and what do you love about it? Squash. I'm all about fall squash; there are so many different varieties. They have natural sweetness, and they're good on their own and good with other things ... and good for you.
Name one unusual/unexpected/unique recipe from the book. The Broccoli Frito is simple in a sense, but it came from this interestingly Asian inspiration and evolved into this dish that's the most popular thing on the menu. It shocks people all the time.
Broccoli Frito, alla Sorella.
Broccoli Frito (serves 4-6)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
For the batter: 2 cups rice flour 1 Tablespoon kosher salt 1 cup ice water
1 pound broccoli florets kosher salt pickled pepper aioli** ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade ½ cup grana or parmesan, finely grated
Preparation: Before you do anything, pour oil into a saucepan or deep fryer to a depth of 4 inches and heat over high heat to 360 degrees Farenheit (185 degrees celsius). You want an ample, stable pot of oil to work with.
To make the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and salt. Add the ice water slowly while stirring with your fingers. Lumps are just fine; they will fall off the florets. You do not want to overmix this. The final consistency should be heavy and wet like that of sludgy clay.
Get ready to fry the florets in batches. It is of the utmost importance that you do not crowd the broccoli in the pan. Place a handful of the floret sin the batter and mix with your hands until fully coated. Using your hands, lift the florets out of the batter. Place the battered florets in the hot oil and cook for about 1 ½ minutes. They shouldn't necessarily color. We are not looking for a golden brown finish here. The trick to rice flour batters like this one or the type used for tempura is to fry the battered items just until the batter crisps and becomes a thin, light, glassy shell. Using a slotted spoon or a wire skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat to fry the remaining broccoli, continuing to be careful not to crowd the florets in the pot and letting the oil return to 360 degrees between batches.
To Assemble: Place the florets in a large bowl and toss them with salt like you would french fries. Spread the salted florets in a single layer on a serving platter or plates and drizzle a good amount of aioli on top, like covering fries with ketchup. Sprinkle the basil on top of the aioli and top that with a snowy layer of cheese. Enjoy immensely--and watch your guests freak out when they taste it.
**Pickled Pepper Aioli: (makes about 2 ½ cups) 4 egg yolks 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt 1 ½ cups grapeseed oil
2 pickled habanero chiles, pureed ½ cups pepperoncini, pureed 2 ½ Tablespoons each: liquid from pepperoncini and habanero jars 1 ½ teaspoons sugar.
Put egg yolks into the bowl of a food processor, turn the processor on and process until the eggs are blended. Very slowly drizzle in the oil until a stiff sauce forms. If you prefer a thinner aioli, with the processor running, drizzle in a little warm water until the desired consistency is achieved. Season with salt.
Mix in pickled peppers, liquid and sugar.
Tip: Make sure there is no residue in the food processor bowl by wiping it with a little bit of white vinegar. A perfectly clean bowl ensures that the eggs and oil will emulsify properly.
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