R.I.P. Paul Torre

R.I.P. Paul Torre

On June 8, Paul Torre, The Italian Chef who was the inspiration for this website and, more importantly, my father, passed away after a two year struggle with multiple diseases. I knew I wanted to write about this here because he was such a big part of this site, but it took me some time to be able to write what I wanted to say. I started this website back in 1999, with the purpose of keeping my father’s recipes alive after he retired from the restaurant business. Born to Italian immigrants in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, his family moved back to Italy to escape the great depression shortly after his birth. When he was 18 he came back to America, settling in the New York metropolitan area, and began a 40+ year career as an accomplished chef. The last 19 years of that career were spent as chef/owner of his own Italian restaurant, La Villetta in Larchmont, NY. When I started this website I was not much of a cook. Although, I had worked in the restaurant since I was a teenager, it was always in the front of the house as a waiter. The early process of trying to get recipes from a chef who did everything by feel was not easy. When I would ask him for amounts of ingredients I would get answers like “You know” and “Better too little than too much.” Eventually, we settled into a routine of cooking together with me taking the handfuls and pinches of ingredients from him, and measuring them. Those were great times that I will always cherish. As I...
Vanilla Gelato and Affogato

Vanilla Gelato and Affogato

This week I had a strong craving for Affogato, a simple but delicious Italian dessert that is made by pouring a shot of hot espresso over a scoop of vanilla gelato. Naturally, to make this I needed vanilla gelato. So, this was as good a time as ever to break out my ice cream machine, which I had not used for a while, and make the gelato myself. As I have mentioned before, there are a couple of styles of gelato. There is Sicilian style, which is made without eggs or cream, just a base of milk with corn starch and sugar (called crema rinforzata). And there is Northern Italian style which is made from an egg based custard made with either milk only or a combination of milk and cream. The style I prefer is usually tied to the flavor. With fruit or nuts like pistacchio, it is definitely the Sicilian, which really highlights the flavor of those ingredients, but when making vanilla I prefer a custard based gelato. Note: If you prefer, you can replace 1 cup of the milk in the following recipe with 1 cup of cream. Vanilla Gelato Recipe Prep time: 45 min | Total time: 45 min Makes About 1 Quart 3 cups whole milk 3/4 cup sugar 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 4 egg yolks Stir the milk and sugar together in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the vanilla bean. Heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat and steep for 15 minutes, then remove the vanilla bean. In a medium bowl, whisk...