Posts Tagged “Italian”
I ran across this very simple recipe from noted pastry chef Gale Gand via her Italian mother-in-law. Sweet enough, but not cloyingly sweet. Kinda round, but not perfectly shaped. Crispy on the outside, soft, moist and lovely on the inside thanks to the ricotta cheese. And we fell in love.
Most minestrones I have known (and loved) are heavy, rich and satisfying on a cold winter day. This wonderful spring minestrone is rich, but it is also light and bright and filled the best of spring produce: peas, asparagus, artichokes. A perfect vehicle to use up the last of the ramps.
You can do an awful lot with very few ingredients, Fellow FoodBeest. This recipe is basically flour and water with a little olive oil, cheese and seasoning. It is a two-step cooking process. First you bake the flatbread – it’s a cracker, really. Then you top it and bake it a second time.
I’m not Italian, Fellow FoodBeest, but I did grow up in a predominently Italian neighborhood. My mom took pride in her version of a Bolognese sauce (she would never have called it that), but it was largely a tomato sauce with ground beef. It was also really tasty and often a birthday request dinner, but [...]
This dish was never intended to be served as a main course. It’s very rich and you probably want only a small portion. This recipe makes an enormous amount of risotto. It is perfect for fall and winter. It will easily serve eight people as a side dish. Feel free to halve the quantities in the recipe.
There is a distinct difference between Italian food and Italian-American food, Fellow FoodBeest. Italian-American food is as familiar to us as it is delicious. But it’s not quite the same thing as the regional, simple, Slow Food that gets made in Nonna’s kitchen in Italy. And just because we call it “Slow Food” doesn’t mean it takes a lot of time. Take this recipe for Skinner Neapolitan Meatballs. Really. Take it.
tTe world has changed. It is smaller. It is more sophisticated. It is more worldly. You can get iced in your iced tea in London. And mind-boggling world-class food in Chicago. And New York doesn’t look as special.
Except when it does.
Back in the day – certainly the first time I visited Europe after college – it was easy to spot an American aboard. We looked different. Cheekier. We dressed differently. More self-consciously un-self-conscious. An American could easily sell his (or her) jeans on the street to a Frenchman or a German who was eager for a pair of Levi’s – the more used the better. And their shoes were different. Chunkier. Sold working-man’s looking shoes with thick soles. Except for the Italian, of course, who wore shoes with very thin soles and very pointy toes.
And then there was a period where you could spot a European at glance because they were setting the trends. Hair colors not found in nature. Brighter colors. Bleeding edge fashion. We wondered at the syles and knew we’d be wearing them in six months or a year.
But you could tell at a glance who was European and who was American. No more. Just try to spot an American on the streets of London or Amsterdam or Munich. You can’t. Any more than you can spot a European visitor to any U.S. city.
There was also a time when New York was where you went in this country when you wanted to taste “really good” food. Dinner for the rest of us – especially in our pedestrian Midwest world – was meatloaf and macaroni and cheese (mostly from the blue box) or fried chicken with a side of vegetables from a frozen square box and a baked potato. Today we call that “comfort food.”
If you wanted “gourmet food,” you went to New York where you could get Chock-ful-of-Nuts coffee and exotic stuff like Cuban Chinese food. The rest-of-us knew that the food in New York was expensive, but it was special. My parents came home from New York rhapsodizing for days about Mama Leone’s Lobster Diablo. And there was Sardis. And the Carnegie Deli. And Peter Luger’s steak house. You couldn’t get that at home.
So there we were in New York yesterday – me and Mr. FB and his brother and sister-in-law – wanting to get that special New York approach to food. Just one day. Fewer than 24-hours. One lunch/brunch and one dinner. Maybe dessert after the Broadway play.
But we’re from Chicago. Chicago is where Grant Achatz thrills the (upscale and adventurous) world with astonishing molecular gastronomy at Alinea and sells tickets to NeXT where the food style and menu take a dramatic transformation every three months (Escoffier to Thailand to “childhood”). Chicago is where Top Chef winners and near-winners open their inventive and brilliant restaurants. It’s the city where Rick Bayless introduced Americans to regional Mexican cuisine that sent the corner taco joint reeling. Chicago is the home of Charlie Trotter (who started the whole thing there) and Tru and Everest on one end – and brilliant inventive gastropubs and little Vietnam on the other.
We we’re in New York together. Two Chicago chowhounds looking for culinary adventure and two vegetarians for whom food is a pleasant but unimportant necessity for iife.
I did my research as I always do before we travel. Picked out several restaurants as both lunch and dinner options and ran them past everyone to be sure everyone was getting what they wanted; what they needed.
Brunch rezies at Norma in the Parker Meridian for a classic, if whimsical and overpriced mid-day New York-style brunch before we hit the MoMA. Get the shrimp egg white frittata urged our waiter. It was fine. It was good. I just could get it anywhere. Mr. FB had corncakes with a fried egg and (Spanish) chorizo. B-I-L had $21 potato pancakes – three of them ($7 each?) with a pumpkin puree and pomegranate apple sauce.
Great breakfast/brunch food at home (Longman & Eagle, Jam, Publican, Bongo Room) that was indistinguishable from anything we had at Norma’s– except for the price and maybe the bragging rights.
Our original dinner reservation was for Esca, a Mario Batali fish restaurant. I’ve eaten there before and thought it was brilliant. But the vegetarians we love couldn’t find things on the menu that worked for them. so we changed to a place right around the block from the theater. Bearing in mind that the Times Square neighborhood is not the best place for great food in Manhattan, we wound up at a place called Scarlatto.
The good news about Scarlatto is that:
It was close to the theater.
It was inexpensive.
We didn’t leave hungry.
We didn’t get sick.
Don’t bother. Hundreds – maybe thousands of restaurants – around the country with comparably competent food. Nothing most of you couldn’t make in your own kitchen. Made it clear to me why most people don’t bother themselves much with food.
So the landscape has changed. New York is no longer the only/best place to
These stuffed, fried zucchini blossoms are finger food with the crunch of a french fry, but the depth and surprise flavor of the cheese, chives and, of course, the blossom of the zucchini, itself. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like them.
It’s summer! And the fresh produce is out. Hooray!
The day before friends came to visit from out-of-town, I spent the morning making caponata, a sweet and sour Sicilian version of ratatouille. ICaponata is one of those foods that is best after resting overnight in the fridge when all the flavors have come together.