Posts Tagged ‘Italy’



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This weekend is part of Restaurant Week in Baltimore and I have been asked to be a guest chef at Cafe Einstein in Fells Point. The owner is from Germany and she will be serving German cuisine. I will handle the Italian side. Should be interesting.

Because of Restaurant Week we are serving a pris fix menu. You cannot do a lot or use many rich ingredients for $35.11 but every place in

Baltimore has a $35.11 menu. Here is ours.MENU.

Chef Calle quit his cushy, well paying lawyer job to become a Swedish-American Italian Chef. Am I CRAZY?

Prof. Einstein authored the theory of relativity and a few others and frequently said “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy? Albert Einstein

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This was just one course of a nine course Chef Calle dinner. I guess my time in culinary school wasn’t in vain!!!!!

Two dishes not on the menu were gifts from the chef.  #1 Seasonal soup duo. Maryland asparagus and leek potato. #2 Tuna crudo seasoned with fresh orange.

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What does a frustrated chef do when they are home on a killer cold Saturday night in Baltimore? When I say frustrated I mean I need to COOK MORE!

So I have been perusing Italian cook books. I examine the fridge to see what I can throw together. Earlier in the day I was thinking about making fresh pasta but it is already after 7:00 pm and and Mary is hungry. So I needed something really good and rich, comfort food, for a cold winter night, and fast. Blood sugar levels must be maintained.

The situation in the fridge is not great and the cupboard is not much better. I have a half a pound of dry whole wheat pasta. That’s all Mary will eat. I have a 1/2 of a left over zucca, (butternut squash). Milk, no-fat of course, (Mary again) but way in the back, left over from Christmas is a pint of heavy cream. Yum. I have some dried sage, left over from fresh sage used for Thanksgiving Dinner in November. So, ah, um what could fit the bill from these meager, left over ingredients?

Chef Bruno.

So I think to myself, I think “what would Chef Bruno do?

He is my culinary hero after all. Much better in my mind than Mario Batali and even Marchasi. Would he run out to the supermarket at 7:00 pm. on a frigid Saturday night? Or would he perhaps just give up and take the wife out to dinner? Or perhaps just eat popcorn?  Never!

We are Chef’s after all and it is much too cold to go out. Minus 10 c.

So I think what I really need is  some herbs. What would Chef Bruno do in this situation. Well check out the video.


What Chef Bruno would do is go out to his back yard in the mountains of Liguria and just pick a bunch of fresh stuff to make something awesome with. Tonight I didn’t have that option.

So then I started to think. What has the power to make everything taste great. What one single ingredient, more than any other on the planet has the flavor and aromas to make something from nothing. That would be……..

Pork. But, alas I had no freshly roasted porchetta and I wasn’t likely to find any on a night like tonight.

So I decided to do with what I had. Is that not how most traditional food came about. Ordinary folks needing food but not always having everything at their fingertips or the inclination to venture away from the home and hearth on a cold night to find what they needed, presuming of course they had the wealth to obtain it.

What can you make with zucca, pasta and milk?

Minestra Di Spaghetti E Zucca.

So here is what I did. 4 cups of no fat milk in a pot on the stove. Add heat and a 1/2 a cup of cream. Peal and cut the zucca in to small pieces and when the milk is hot add the zucca to the pot for 15-20 minutes till soft. Remove the zucca from the hot milk and add the pasta to the now zucca flavored milk. Puree the cooked zucca. Add some sale and pepe, rubbed sage and a dab of butter to the puree. When the pasta is almost al dante add the pureed zucca to the pasta and milk and cook for 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. A little more sale and a couple more twists of freshly ground pepe.

At the very last minute add a handful of Pecorino Romano, and a teaspoon of the secret ingredient,  Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Reggio Emilia, Aragosta lable meaning 12 years aging, stir and serve. Garnish with one last twist of the pepe grinder and a pinch of Pecorino Romano. AWESOME!

Minestra Di Spaghetti E Zucca.

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Class Photo.

This is a WordPress generated report on this blog for 2010.  14000 hits on 184 posts and more.


The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 184 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 191 posts.

Fire Drill in Soho.



There were 1158 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1gb. That’s about 3 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was October 2nd with 406 views. The most popular post that day was I’M BACK and BUSIEST DAY EVER..

Day One in New York.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were italianculinaryacademy.com, facebook.com, mail.live.com, mail.yahoo.com, and frenchculinary.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for appendicitis, massimo spigaroli, italian chef lawyer, italian chef, and carl vahl.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


I’M BACK and BUSIEST DAY EVER. October 2010


About the Author December 2009


Photo Gallery April 2010


A Cute, Appendicitis? April 2010


Antica Corta Pallavicina, Restaurant Al Cavallino Bianco, Chef Massimo Spigaroli. June 2010
1 comment

Here are just a few of the fun photo’s from my exciting, life changing, gut wrenching, highly educational year with a group of great young people.

Chef Instructor Haley, NYC.




Sweetbread and Sweetwife, before the girlfriend shot.

Yankees Baseball. Thanks Greg!












A great kitchen partner.

Chef Guido!


Chef Bruno!












The real Pete.











The real Cip!

Always Smiling Robert.

The real Carl, with lamb testicle.

With Guest Chef Ricci.

Wife Mary and Sofia.








The Vin Cave.



Excursion to Venice!





Model worthy Eric!








More photos to come so stay tuned.


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Preparing the pasta.


Last night was a great experience. Everyone called me “Chef” and respectfully the whole evening. We served a complex 7 courses to some pretty discriminating palates and did quite well.

All in all I was pleased with last night and it appeared everyone had a great time. Not everyone loved every dish or every wine but that is to be expected with complex people with experienced palates…..where everyone is eating the same thing.

The key question for me isn’t “was each dish your absolute favorite of all time” but rather “did you have a great time, enjoy the people you were with, the food and the wine and would you do it again in the future?”

I was very pleased that the Tuna Crudo dish and the spicy sweet potato ravioli, which I made by hand, see above, were all favorites for everyone. The biggest criticism was that the white bean puree with spinach and shrimp was too salty and for most people it was. Unfortunately I was taught to salt, salt, salt!

December 20, 2010 Event!



The details which are all a bit tricky in a small condo kitchen were seamless. The preparation, the timing, the service, the pace, the clean up all went great.

So, who wants to schedule their distinctive dining experience? We will travel anywhere. We will work on yachts, jets, ski homes, beach homes, Tuscan country homes, houseboats, penthouses, out-houses, Red Hus’s, Villa’s, Chateau’s, Superbowl hospitality suites, Raven’s corporate box suites, Bill’s cardboard boxes. We will go pretty much anywhere if the expenses are paid and we can make people happy with food and hospitality.

I have a lot to learn but m having fun learning it and soon may even be making some money!

We are already booked for a Valentines Day party for ten. So don’t delay, reserve today.


Hello Everyone.



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It is Christmas time once again and for the first time in 10 years Mary and I are not hosting the annual Vahl Family Christmas, a tradition in our family since my fathers parents, Carl and Ruth married after separately immigrating from Sweden in the 1920’s. This  year my brother, Rick, short for Eric and his wife Jennifer are hosting. Because Christmas is such a busy time of year with so many competing events, family gatherings and the like we hold the party early because we want everyone to have no excuse not to come. This year it is the earliest ever December 12, 2010.

Mary and I are heading from cold but sunny Baltimore 6.5 hours northwest to 3+ feet of snow, really frigid temperatures outside to spend some really warm indoor time eating  mass quantities of Swedish food and drinking mass quantities of Glogg. Mary and I are especially looking forward to heading north tomorrow, we had planned to go today but we both felt sick and had trouble sleeping last night, because we have duel colonoscopies scheduled for Friday morning.  Tomorrow will not be pretty.

I volunteered this year to make the Lutefisk. The idea being that after eight months of culinary school in NYC and Italy I should be able to make the Lutefish edible. I know that comment will hurt my sister Cathy’s feelings as she has been making it for years. But it is not her fault for the Lutefisk not tasting so good because Lutefisk isn’t supposed to taste good.

Lutefisk is merely a “poor food” designed to provide very poor people, living  hundreds and even thousands of years ago a way to obtain some basic nutrition in the cold and dark of winter when the ice was too thick to catch fresh fish through and the snow was too deep to hunt game and because codfish were so plentiful in the summer and salt was scarce the preservation method of drying and soaking in lye was the only way to preserve the fish flesh to be eaten months later.

In Italy they had plenty of salt but no codfish so they traded salt for codfish beginning in the late 1700 and that started the continuing but confusing Italian tradition of eating Baccalà, (salted cod) literally everywhere in a country which is surrounded by warm water that has no codfish swimming in it,  that never freezes, where winters are mild and where fresh food is cherished.

There are actually many preparations for lutefisk. They vary from family to family. In the Vahl family we typically reconstitute the lutefisk, make a white sauce, (bechamel) seasoned with clove and white pepper, and sauce the lutefisk and boiled potatoes. We also, mix the lutefisk into the sauce and use it as a gravy for the potatoes.

What exactly is Lutefisk? Here are a couple of links for the interested. Lutefisk#1 and Lutefisk#2.

Here is a Lutefisk joke that Swedes find particularly funny now that their smaller brother’s, the Norwegians own all the oil in the North Sea.

One old swede says to another ” Well, we tried the lutefisk trick and the raccoons went away, but now we’ve got a family of Norwegians living under our house!”

Check out this video. If you have been eating lutefisk since childhood you will laugh hard about half way through the video.  Having watched the video myself I am not going to be able to doctor the lutefisk with bacon as I was considering.

I am still thinking of my method to recreate the lutefisk. A reciepe that holds to the traditions, the ingredients, the seasonings but one that looks, smells and tastes really good. Perhaps is will be the first recipe in my fist cook book entitled “Modern Swedish Cuisine”.


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