Cooking at Home
Our knowledge of flavor is the sum of all things we have ever tasted. A recipe is not a free standing list of ingredients and instructions; it’s the result of experience, memories, and desire.
You are never, ever alone in the kitchen.
Get your mind out of the gutter. Crudo means raw.
And no, the cannelloni wasn’t raw, the sauce was. Actually the fresh tomato sauce was almost raw or “quasi crudo” as they would say in Italy.
The story goes like this: it’s summer, no one wants to spend extra time in the kitchen, and we have tomatoes coming out of our ears.
And thus, I’ve learned inspiration and abundance make excellent cohorts.
You have to like asparagus if you are in Italy in the spring. There is no escaping the spears, they are in every mercato, every supermarket, on every menu. Occasionally you’ll spot an exotic white or purple asparagus display, but for every day eating, it’s green asparagus.
In our mercato, you get a tightly rubber banded “mazze” or bundle of asparagus and it has spears from slender and tender to stocky and woody. Which means you can’t cook them all at once, on the same night, in the same dish, because each spear of asparagus deserves to be treated according to its girth.
Carpe Diem! Sometimes you have to seize the moment, and when the local EuroSpin had a suckling pig leg on sale, it just had to come home with me. And you can’t eat pig leg all by yourself, because wouldn’t that just make you a little piggy? Which meant we had to invite some friends over, which suits us just fine on a Sunday afternoon. See how one little impulse buy has so many pleasant consequences!Read More
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.
When I presented Jeff with the latest zucchini flower incarnation..he openly scoffed, until he took a bite. (Those are his fingers in the photo…he just couldn’t wait…!) Neither one of us are fans of stuffed zucchini flowers; either the filling is so hot and steamy it burns your tongue, or the filling oozes out, or the flavor of the stuffing overwhelms the flower. And if it has a big, thick coating to hold in the stuffing, it gets extra demerits in the fried flower ranking system.Read More
We’ve slid off the spatula of our searing African weather, into the low boil of Italian summer heat. After the abrupt shift to summer, we’re now getting the chance to become adjusted to our new life style. Which means we barely want to eat anything more than prosciutto and melon, or gazpacho. Gazpacho with caviar. Cucumber & pistachio gazpacho.Read More
And the canning season begins.
A walk over to the orto to get some basil and I’m hit with the realization that there are a ton of ripe tomatoes that need to be dealt with…NOW.
On one hand a kitchen garden is forgiving; if you don’t need any onions, you can leave them in the ground for a few days and no harm done. On the other hand, there is a use it or lose it urgency to ripe tomatoes.
So much for a lazy Saturday afternoon.Read More
What’s gorgeous enough to serve at a holiday gathering, but easy enough to indulge in whenever you feel like it?
It’s that time of year again, lots of parties, potlucks and bring-a-dish moments, when you have very little time to be messing around in the kitchen.
Fennel gratin to the rescue! It can be easily transported, made ahead of time, and did I mention delicious??Read More