Like many travelers, I became obsessed with pizza while traveling through Italy. It’s unavoidable. It was the late ’90’s, my boyfriend and I had quit our jobs and were taking three months to travel right after I finished my final graduate school course in Rome. To make our limited funds last the entire trip, we’d alternate between really nice and really cheap meals. It’s no surprise that we ate a lot of pizza while in Italy – cheap, plentiful and filling, it made for a good snack or meal. And it was delicious! Truth be told, we ate a lot of everything in Italy. It was glorious. There were authentic Napoletana style pies down south and thick slices sold by the weight farther north. We tried them all. It was where I enjoyed my first real pizza margherita overlooking an old city wall in Naples, discovered incredibly fresh buffalo mozzarella that couldn’t have been more than a day old, and to my delight, a pizza with an egg in the center, the yolk running deliciously every which way. All were wonderful, other worldly. Between the pizza and the gelato, I was happy. I discovered a lot of glorious things in Italy but this is definitely when my obsession with pizza di patate began.
Archive for the ‘main courses’ Category
Posted in appetizers/first courses, condiments, main courses, side dishes, tagged meze recipe, middleastern red pepper dip, middleastern red pepper sauce, middleastern sauce for fish, muhammara, tapas recipe on October 15, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Jet lag is evil. No matter how I try to prepare or counteract, it leaves me flattened, sometimes worse than others. Earlier this summer, for reasons that are unclear, I opted to arrive in London at the grotesque hour of 6am. Granted it was an impromptu trip, hastily booked before starting a new job but my thought was I could sleep the whole way there and hit the ground running. That did not happen for one key reason: old Hollywood musicals via the in-flight on-demand system. Gets me every time. By the time I arrived at my friends flat, everyone was just starting to wake and greet the day, ready for a hearty round of site-seeing. They were obviously over their jet lag. Mine was just starting.
Posted in appetizers/first courses, farmers markets, main courses, vegetables, tagged corn polenta, easy ratatouille, fresh polenta, oven roasted ratatouille, roasted ratatouille, sweet corn polenta on September 20, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
As usual, I’m late to the party. I learned about Ottolenghi, the eponymous London restaurant founded by Yotom Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, from the owner of small bed and breakfast in the Dordogne Valley long, long after everyone else. I had to go all the way to France to learn about a couple of Israeli cooks who own a lovely food shop in London. Yet somehow, that seems fitting. By the time I got up to speed, their second cookbook Plenty had been published and their third, Jerusalem, was on the way. They cooked in a manner I could instantly relate to – vegetable heavy and calling on the familiar yet exotic flavors of the Mediterranean, Italy and North Africa with a good does of California. I liked it. A lot.
Posted in appetizers/first courses, main courses, vegetables, tagged bombay potato parcels, bombay potato wraps, filo, indian potato wraps, indian potatoes, indian spiced phyllo bundles, phyllo on August 20, 2013 | 3 Comments »
This is a post about loss. Well … not so much about loss as losing things. I’ve had a bad track record the last few weeks. While vacationing in London last month I lost my lunch. Literally. It went missing. Where exactly it went astray, I have no idea. Maybe I left it at the Tesco while struggling with the self-serve register. Perhaps it flung itself from my bag with great vigor, seeking it’s own personal freedom as I walked to Kew Gardens. I do know that when I settled on the steps of a beautiful greenhouse and reached for my much-anticipated lunch, it wasn’t there. I emptied my satchel and turned it inside out, baffled at how a sandwich could just disappear. In a cloud of hunger and disappointment, I mourned its loss but I got over it. The next one wasn’t as easy to accept. A few short weeks later, my computer hard drive failed, died actually, and I lost everything. The pictures from that London trip that I had just transferred from my fancy camera the week prior? The posts I’d been working on? Hundreds of recipe documents? Gone. Or so I thought.
Posted in main courses, vegetables, tagged cherry tomato pasta sauce, cherry tomato sauce, community gardening, peterson garden project, quick pasta sauce, quick summer recipes, quick tomato sauce, sun gold tomatoes on August 17, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
In four years of community gardening, I’ve learned a few things about my little 26sf plot. I’ve learned that all the tomatoes will begin to ripen at the exact moment I leave the country. I’ve learned that the second I show the slightest excitement about the bud of something wonderful, the next day it will be dry, withered and dead. I’ve learned that the tall robust plant I nurture and water will very likely turn out to be a tall robust weed. I’ve learned that things go missing, whether by pest, rodent or human hand. And I’ve learned that cherry tomatoes are the way to go. The larger tomato varieties, after weeks and weeks of careful watering, tethering and fertilizing, never seem to make it to September. But cherry tomatoes will bloom all summer long with a least a good handful weekly, often far more. I’m smart enough to stick with what I know.
Through a quirk of my interesting work life, I found myself at a photoshoot staring at a table of lamb. A lot of lamb. I was helping an amazing meat cutter friend who prefers to butcher on set to make sure the meat is as beautiful and stunning as possible. Kari had procured 2 ½ whole lambs to make sure we had enough perfect cuts. The shots were gorgeous but at the end of the day, once most of the pretty, perfect chops and cuts had been poked, prodded and propped, we were left with a lot of excess meat. After a few long days of shooting, we were all gassed and Kari simply looked at me and said “deal with this.” So I did.
Eighth grade trips to someplace historical are a rite of passage in our country. Growing up in the Southwest, I didn’t realize that for most kids on the other side of the country, this meant a long bus ride to Washington DC for an up close and personal history lesson. This wasn’t really an option for us desert kids. Oh, we got something it was just very different yet just as culturally significant. For us, a young and enthusiastic math teacher piled a bunch of squirmy 13-year olds on a bus and took us to visit her Grandmother. Let me explain.
There are few things that I love more than things stuffed into dough. Pierogies of course but also dim sum delicacies, ravioli, blini, empanadas, crepes, tamales, calzone, samosas. I could go on for days. Once, I told a friend that I had a great idea for a cookbook – Dumplings of the World! I passionately explained, bright eyed and gesturing wildly, that every culture had a dumpling of some sort, a delicious filling or tidbit encased in a moist dough and baked, boiled or fried to perfection. Dumplings are universally wonderful and feed the world! He smiled, bemused, then turned around and pulled this off the shelf. Dammit. I still think it’s a great idea; so what if someone beat me to it?
This time of year, New Years resolutions or not, I yearn for things that are warm, cozy and comforting. Big fuzzy blankets. Fleece jackets. Warming cups of tea and spicy hot chocolate. Meals that feed your soul like pot pies, hearty soups and long simmered things in heavy pots pushed to a back burner that make the house smell divine. A few months back, I invited some friends over for lunch, just as the weather was starting turn and made such a thing. It was wonderful.
Many cultures start January 1st with various rituals meant to bring luck and good fortune in the coming year. It’s no surprise that my favorite of these traditions involve what some consider to be lucky foods. The Italians have their lentils, usually served with a delicious sausage called cotechino. The lentils round shape represent coins, signifying wealth in the New Year. Many think that eating pork is lucky with the pig symbolizing progress and the rich fat content signifying wealth and prosperity. The Chinese enjoy very long noodles to ensure a long life usually with shrimp, whose curve is said to resemble the hunched back of an elderly person. The Spanish eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for luck, each grape representing a month of the year. It’s not as easy as you’d think. Round foods are also common as the shape is said to signify a complete cycle or a complete year. And hey, if I can eat my way into some good fortune in the New Year, then why not?