Friday, June 29, 2007

IL BUCO - LA CUOCA - LA TORTA











Top photo: What's left of the 'Old Cookahousa' after it burned down. Just a pile of burnt out lumber. Second photo: The 'Old Rancere' talks to the new owners of 'Il Buco' , Jean and Andrew HSU. Next photo: The 'Old Rancere' (back to the camera) looking wistfully at the path 'Bronco' took as he descended into 'Il Buco'. The sheds in the background were there (all-be-it at a different location) when 'Bronco' worked the Gulch Ranch. Bottom photo: 'Il Buco' as viewed from the Coast Road. The old barn can be seen in the foreground. (Photos from the La Nostra Costa Photo Archives.)
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'BLAGGATORI' WHO HAVE READ 'LA NOSTRA COSTA' WILL BE FAMILIAR WITH CHAPTER 8 - "LA CUOCA" (THE COOK). IN THAT CHAPTER I DESCRIBE SOME OF THE DELICIOUS FOOD THAT VALENTINA (MY MOTHER) WOULD COOK FOR THE RANCERI AT THE OLD 'COOKAHOUSA' IN 'IL BUCO' ON THE GULCH RANCH. ONE OF THOSE DISHES WAS 'LA TORTA'. IN HIS E-MAIL BELOW, GINO "D'BAFFI" CAMPIONI REQUESTS THE RECIPE. LaNORMA THEN DISHES UP THE RECIPE THAT HER MOTHER DIANA DINELLI USED.

Dear Ivano:

Once again I have made the mistake of reading from your book at bedtime. Now I know that I won't be able to sleep for a long time. This is not too good, as tomorrow I need to rise earlier than normal. Oh well, I'll get over it.

I just wanted to share a few thoughts brought on by reading chapter 8 about La Cuoca. Any strange spelling you may attribute to what I call "Itanglish", or the Italianizing of American words.

Do you remember the number of il telefone in the cuccausse? It was 6 Y 1 1. (In Itanglish: Sikissy uai wan wan) The number for Herman Mortara's grocery near the plaza on Pacific Avenue was 8 6. (eitte sikissy)

You mentioned the wonderful torta that you mother made. My mother called it "Torta con becchi", (becchi meaning beaks or peaks. The way the crust was pinched into peaks all around the edge of the torta) If you know the recipe for it, I should greatly appreciate your sending it to me. I think that besides the ingredients you mentioned, it sometimes contained bietola. (Swiss chard) My mother also doctored it up with vermouth or something. I was always allowed to sip anything my parents had, and was sometimes served "coffee royals" or acqua calda con vischi e limone. (hot water with bourbon and a bit of lemon peel) I was a happy baby! A wonder that I never took a serious interest in liquor.

Gino, figliolo del famoso Baffi.



TORTA TOSCANA ALA DIANA

(Makes 4 Pies)

Ingredients for filling:
1-1/2 cups cooked rice
½ loaf dried French bread (soaked in water –
then squeezed dry
6 tablespoons cocoa (chocolate baking –
Hershey’s)
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup grated cheese
5 eggs
½ to 1 cup sugar (to taste)
2 cups chopped cooked Swiss chard
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 bunch chopped parsley
1 cup raisins
1 cup glazed fruit
1 tablespoon of whiskey

Fry chard and parsley in small amount of oil:
Add salt and pepper to this. Put in bowl and
Add rest of ingredients, mix well and let set.
Add whisky to ingredients. (To taste- plus or minus)

CRUST FOR PIES:

Ingredients:
4 cups of flour
4 eggs beaten
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of sugar and include ½ cup of brown
sugar in it.
1 cup melted Crisco and butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup whiskey
½ teaspoon salt

Mix flour, baking powder, salt: add 4 eggs,
Vanilla, whiskey, Crisco and mix well. If
Dough is too soft, add flour until firm. If it
Gets too firm add small amounts of milk.
Roll on floured board, small amount of dough
At a time, enough to fit into one pie dish at a time.


Allow dough to hang over edge. Roll dough on edge
of dish to make “Becci” (means peaks) cut with knife.
Put dough on a slant all around the rim of pie plate.

TOPPING

Ingredients:
1 egg well beaten
1 teaspoon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ tablespoon sugar
(A little butter to dot rim of crust)

Blend egg, vanilla, whiskey and sugar
Spread about 2 tablespoons over each pie dot
Section of crust rim with butter. Bake at
375 degrees in oven, for 55 minutes, or until
crust is deep golden brown.
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AS LOUIE THE RANCERE WOULD SAY, "HMMMM."BUONO, BUONO, BUONO. SI MANGIA".




3 comments:

Gino said...

Thanks for posting those great photos of Il Buco. So sad to see how it has turned out, after the fire and all. I am somewhat surprised, though, that the position of the buildings is pretty much as I had remembered, and tried to depict in my acrylic picture.

The recipe for Torta coi Becchi is one I shall have to try. As it is intended for making 4 torte, I shall divide the quantities by 4. I won't use the "vischi" nor any other liquor, however. I think it will taste pretty good without, though not as good as it would with.

This reminds me of my friend Carol Sue Green, whose daughter once asked her how to change a recipe to make a double batch. Then she asked how to triple it. Then how to "fourple" it. Hah!

Oh for the days when Valentina cooked for all of us. Tutti alla tavola per mangiare. (e bere)

Sempre avanti. Saluti per tutti.

Gino

Thanks Gino: You always have something interesting and funny to say. I remember those sheds being nearer the Coast Road Side -- west side of 'Il Buco' rather than as they are now (South side). The 'new' Coast Road cut through 'Il Buco' causing the old ranch foreman's house and those sheds to be move. BTW: the HSUs (Shoes) are living in that old ranch house today.

Yes wouldn't it be wonderful to have another one of those great meals that Valentina,Anderina,Nuncia and all those other "Cuocas su per la costa" could conjure up. ivn0

carolina cariola said...

Oh my!!! As Gino suggests, one could get really 'happy' cooking this 'La Torta' thing with all that 'viski' e vermouth No wonder the ranceri liked it so much. I suggest mixing a batch ('viski' e sweet vermouth) just prior to starting this thing. Then you could have a Manhattan Cocktail or two as you are kneading the dough. That would certainly be therapeutical,don't you think??

Salute a tutti. Carrie

anna said...

Ivano

Re the Torta recipe, I still make (rarely) the swiss chard kind and on my husband's side (also Tuscan) they made the chocolate rice one. I've never seen the 2 combined. I'll have to try it one day.
Anna