Cook

Addicted to Love & Eggplant

TeenBrideWe have a plant in our orto that I call our “Teen Bride”. She keeps having babies, is totally unsupported, and when you pluck a fruit from her, she shudders as if to say, “Thank you!”. Then she stands a little straighter, brazenly sprouting even more fruit.

I like eggplant, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t LOVE eggplant, until recently. Now, we’re addicted. But this eggplant dip is the cause of our addiction.

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Border Crossing: Summer Shrimp Soup

Who cares if it’s a soup or a salad? Or if it’s a salad with soup on top? It’s summertime, so why not cross the border between the unexpected and the delicious.
A clean, hot seafood broth, with small shrimp, poured over fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and a lot of herbs, served with a side of fresh hot chili sauce. Sounds like summer to me.

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50 Shades of Salt

Let me see a show of hands. Are you a sweet or a salty person? Potato chips or gelato? And for the smug amongst us who are voting for umami..sit down. That’s a story for another day.

I’m salty. I’ll take a good pickle over a pastry anytime. Which is a good thing because living in Umbria, you better like salt.

Good sea salt is about 20 cents a kilo in Italy, so we
use it with wild abandon. You can pour an entire kilo onto a baking sheet to roast a fish and not blink a parsimonious eye. Which also means you can take salt for granted, and not pay attention to all the flavor possibilities.

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Tomato Swan Song with Breadcrumbs

This is my end-of-the-season swan song to the tomatoes in our orto. As the vines wither at the bottom, there are yellow blossoms still sprouting at the top, and green fruit just hanging on in the middle. We spent the cold, wet spring together, you endured hail and high winds, while we worried and tried to protect you. You blossomed in the July heat and produced massive amounts of fruit in August. And now, you are closing down for the winter.
I’ve had a LOT of time to think about tomatoes, and I realized I was not paying attention. Tomatoes love bread, and bread loves them back. They were meant to be together.

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The Mediterranean Del Verziere Lifestyle Diet

Introducing our version of the Mediterranean Diet; it’s called the Del Verziere Lifestyle diet! If followed properly, it will lead to an increased level of personal satisfaction and well-being, maybe a longer life, and possible weight loss.
The Del Verziere Lifestyle Diet goes like this: eat fresh food instead of prepared food, preferably food from your garden, drink red wine, put olive oil into everything, and volunteer for anything that will keep you engaged in your community. And ladies, you should also learn how to walk in high heels on cobblestone because if you can do that, you can live to be 100…with great legs and a firm behind.

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Summer Elegant Italian Parmigiana

In the US, ‘parm’ comes in four generic flavors: chicken, veal, meatball, or eggplant. Usually heavy, goppy and greasy, it’s an overweight distant relative of the sleekly elegant Italian parmigiana. Think Jersey Shore versus the Amalfi Coast.
In Italy, a parmigiana is made from vegetables like eggplant or zucchini, or even combined with some potato. It can be a light main course, or a contorni (vegetable side dish). In the summer, a parmigiana served at room temperature, along with a chilled white wine, is pretty much the perfect hot weather meal.

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Linguine & The Art of Vongole

Twenty years ago, Napoli Restaurant was a classic spaghetti joint on the corner of Spring and Sullivan streets in Soho, NYC. Actually, it was ‘our’ spaghetti joint back in the day when we were living cheap and going out didn’t require a mortgage to buy a bottle of wine.
Flash forward to the new enlightened us who live in Italy and have eaten many clams, preferably picking them up at the port from the fisherman, with a cold bottle of local wine in the shopping bag. Here’s the time warp part: eating linguine alle vongole at the Italian seaside is probably cheaper than those dinners at Napoli. See, life isn’t always cruel.

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Pickled Everything!

What do you do when your garden is onions all needed to be picked at once, the peppers are crazy cheap in the market, and it is the height of zucchini season? You pickle everything! I’ve pickled onions and green tomatoes before, but I’ve also had trouble controlling the amount of acid or salt. You…

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