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The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone

If you’re a food enthusiast (and you must be if you’re stopping by here from time to time) you need to get yourself a nice glass of wine, tea, whatever your fancy and a copy of Laura Schenone’s The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken, A search for food and family. This family saga takes you on a trip back in time and across the Atlantic as the author sets out on her quest to find the true, authentic recipes of her Northern Italian great grandmother. This is a woman obsessed, and I can totally relate. She brings to life both turn of the century Italy and Hoboken as well as the sounds, smells and tastes of old world kitchens where pasta is hand rolled by Italian nonnas into paper thin “gossamer dough.” Trust me, you are going to salivate through the entire book.

I met the author at the Ocean County Library’s cookbook event last fall. She is a James Beard Award winner for her book A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove; A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes and Remembrances. Laura lives in Montclair with her family and was gracious enough to allow me to reprint one of her recipes. This is a family recipe that has been “Americanized.” The true Italian recipe, a version of which is also included in the book, calls for Italian bietole and a yogurt like cheese called prescinseua.

There are many more recipes provided at the end of the book which of course thrills the obsessive cook side of me to no end. It’s such a treat to actually get the recipes for the dishes that Laura lovingly describes throughout this beautifully written book. (Oh, and she provides supplier names and contact information for the hard to find ingredients like Chestnut flour and cookware. Love her.) She also provides pictures to accompany all the step by step instructions for pasta making, rolling, filling, cutting, etc. (What I’d really love is to get Ms. Schenone to come do a pasta making class in my kitchen. I’m sure some of the Jersey Biters would be all over that. I don’t know, sounds like a press opportunity to me and a fun party. 😉

Spinach Torta via Hoboken

Yield: serves 10 to 12 as an appetizer or side dish
4 packages frozen chopped spinach
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Brush about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9 x 11 inch pan or Pyrex-type dish.

3. Begin with three mixing bowls; large, medium, and small. In the largest bowl, defrost the spinach very well. Expedite this with heat or the microwave if you wish. Place the cream cheese (or other fresh cheese) in the medium bowl. Beat the eggs in the small bowl.

4. Cream the cream cheese, using a handheld electric mixer. Add the beaten eggs to it, then the Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper, and parsley. Mix well, then pour half this mixture in to the spinach. Evenly spread the spinach mixture into the oiled pan. Cover the spinach with the remaining half of the lizuid egg mixture.

5. Bake about 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden.