Tuesday, November 30, 2010
There’s only so much turkey you can eat. But turkey broth? That’s another story. You can never have enough. Domenico was in charge of making it this year, and he made gallons in the biggest-stock-pot-I-ever-saw. I knew I bought it for a good reason.
After turkey noodle soup last night, I knew we were really over the whole turkey thing. But since it’s STILL raining here in Rome, I didn’t really feel like going out to do last minute dinner shopping. Opening the fridge I realized that I still had the bunch of cardoons I had bought in the farmer’s market 10 days ago. That’s the thing about cardoons. They taste delicious, and are gorgeous in the market, but...what a pain to clean and cook. Which is why they were still sitting there, a bit limp and not as sprightly as when I bought them.
I don’t know what I originally thought I’d do with them. My friend Judy had them for lunch in a restaurant today, in Tuscany, where they were parboiled, fried and then cooked in a thick tomato sauce. Yummy I’m sure, but way too much work for me.
If you’ve never had them, cardoons taste a bit like artichokes. In fact, if you see them growing in the garden, that is what they look like. On the counter, they look just like celery. And like celery, they can be stringy and must be cleaned of their fibers before cooking. A pain.
But getting back to the artichoke taste and the gallons of broth. Risotto seemed the perfect solution. I even had a great bag of arborio rice from Principato di Lucedio that I had brought back from the Salone. If you ever see their rice, buy it. But it will sort of ruin you for normal rice in the future. The minute you start cooking it, it fills your kitchen with an incredible fragrance that you realize all rice should have, but rarely does.
The risotto turned out perfectly. I’d never made it with cardoons before, and the taste was a bit more ‘green’ tasting than artichokes, and maybe slightly more bitter (in a good way) The turkey broth made it very rich indeed, but you can certainly use chicken or vegetable broth instead.
Risotto di Cardi
8 large cardoon stalks
1 small onion
4 Tablespoon of butter
400 grams arborio rice
1 liter of turkey broth
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Carefully clean the cardoons. Break off each stem, and strip them of their outer fibers, as well as any of the green leaves. As you clean them, drop them into acidulated water, so they don’t turn dark (like artichokes)
Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pot. Heat gently. Add chopped onion.
Take the cardoons out of water, dry and chop into 1/4 inch size pieces, putting the chopped cardoons into the butter with the onions as you chop them. Giving them a stir to coat. (you don’t want them turning dark) Add some salt and pepper.
Once you’ve got all the cardoons in, add a ladle full of broth. Let them cook for about 20 minutes, until they start to soften. If you need to, add more water.
In the meantime bring the broth to a simmer.
Once the cardoons are soft, let the liquid boil off. Then add rice to vegetables and stir to ‘toast’ the rice, coating it with the juices.
Add the broth, a ladle full at a time, stirring, until rice is cooked. About 15 to 20 minutes.
Just before it is done, add the butter and cheese.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I can remember when I considered making thanksgiving dinner a week-long affair. Making shopping lists, doing the shopping and then starting to cook at least three days ahead of time. I don’t know what it is, but this year it just seemed really easy. I guess I have been doing this for a while...
Actually, we don’t do Thanksgiving every year. We’re in Italy, where, let’s face it, it’s just not a big deal. But this year I decided to have a couple of families up to Todi, for Turkey and all the trimmings.
Pumpkin soup, Turkey, blah, blah, blah...Another dinner party with a slightly bigger bird. All this to say that by the day of our feast (Saturday, since that is our ex-pat tradition) I had everything pretty much under control. Soup made. Broth made. Turkey stuffed. I had even made two sides and a pumpkin pie. So, it was 11:00am, guests weren’t arriving till 4. What to do?
I had picked up a pack of fresh cranberries at Campo dei Fiori. My friend Eugenia said she was bringing sauce, but you never know. Back up cranberries - even when they cost 8 euros a bag- are always a good idea. I had also brought up a bag of pecans from the freezer in Rome. Where did they come from? Who knows. But it seemed a good idea to use them for something.
So, double batch of Cranberry Pecan Muffins. I knew my guests would arrive hungry, but we weren’t going to eat until 7:30. And I made so many, I knew there would be plenty for breakfast.
To answer your questions about the photos. I didn’t have paper muffin liners, so used little squares of baking parchment, a trick I learned from Mona Talbott at the Rome Sustainable Food Project. And yes, as I was putting them into the basket, I thought I have definitely passed in front of Martha and am turning into border-line Bree. But they are pretty, aren’t they?
Cranberry Pecan Muffins.
Makes 24 Muffins
4 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups milk
12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup pecans, broken into large pieces
Preheat oven to 200C (400F)
Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine eggs, milk and butter, mix well. Add sugar, mix.
Add dry ingredients, but do not over mix.
Divide into 24 muffin cups.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I really did mean to get this post out in time for Thanksgiving. Really I did. But you see, here in Italy we never celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. I mean, it's just another work day here in Italy. So I guess I lost track of things. We are heading up to Todi this weekend, where I will be roasting a turkey and the whole deal. Plus this cocktail of course.
In any case, this pomegranate cocktail is good enough for any holiday. Or any night for that matter. As always, ingredients matter. My friend Mona gave me this bunch of gorgeous pomegranates straight off a tree behind the American Academy here in Rome. While they made a gorgeous centerpiece, they also tasted delicious. But how to get the juice out? I can't remember who taught me this (maybe it was Mona herself? Maybe I've had too many of my own cocktails?) All you have to do is cut it open, in half, and use a citrus squeezer. Voila! Lots-o-juice. Ruby red, delicious juice just asking for some vodka.
The secret ingredient in this cocktail is pomegranate molasses. Very tangy, not too sweet and just a little earthy.
Fresh Pomegranate Juice Cocktail
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz cointreau
3 oz fresh pomegranate juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Pour vodka and cointreau into a glass. Add pomegranate molassses and whisk to disolve.
Add lemon juice and pomegranate juice. Stir.
Fill glass with ice.
It would be very pretty garnished with a sprig of mint. But I didn't have any.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I’ve already told you how great the Street Food section of the Salone del Gusto was. From my last post about it, you’d think all I ate was Focaccia di Recco. But there was one other stand I returned to several times: Farinata di Liguria.
I’d always heard about this chickpea flour, pancake-type thing, but never ate it since I’ve never been to Liguria (sad, but true). I also had never attempted to make it myself, since it just seems like the kind of thing best eaten on the spot, in the street. In fact, it’s sold at special shops and bakeries throughout Liguria. Customers line up, and wait until it comes out of the oven, piping hot. Also, since the best farinata is baked in a wood- burning oven, it makes it hard for most people to whip up their own snack.
But if you do want to try it, I’ve found a recipe for you. It’s not hard at all, and like all good things, has only a handful of simple ingredients. If for some reason you can’t find chickpea flour don’t attempt it. And to answer your question, no Mom, you can’t substitute regular flour. The incredible goodness of Farinata comes from the taste and consistency of the chickpea flour.
2 cups room temperature water
3 cups chickpea flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 Tablespoons
Place chickpea flour and salt in a bowl, make a well in the center and slowly add the water. Stir vigorously, eliminating all the lumps.
Let sit for four hours. Remove the foam that will have formed on the top with a ladle.
Preheat oven to 500F (250C).
Add the 1/2 cup of olive oil to the chickpea flour mixture and stir.
You can use two 10 inch low pans, or one large 20 inch, if you have it.
Use remaining oil to grease the pan or pans generously. Pour batter in. It should be less than 1/2 inch thick.
Place in hot oven and cook for about 20 minutes. For the last five minutes turn on the broiler, so that the top gets crusty and browed.
Farinata is traditionally eaten hot, right out of the oven. For variety add thinly sliced onions, or lumps of strachino cheese (added during last five minutes).
Monday, November 22, 2010
So many of my friends and colleagues have fantastic books out this year I thought it would be timely to do a round up for those of you looking for holiday gifts. Most likely you’ve already heard of a lot of these, since they seem to be popping up on all the Best of 2010 lists. (I have very talented friends)
And yes, I’ve decided to do a giveaway! I’ve never done one of these before, so wish me luck (and good luck to you too!). I’ve got three gorgeous books up for grabs, all signed by the author.
Biscotti, by Mona Talbott
My Mother’s Clothes, by Jeanette Montgomery Barron
Italian Rustic, by Elizabeth Helman Minchilli
Here are the rules:
To enter for a chance to win, just leave a comment on this post. (Don’t do it anonymously or I won't know who you are ) The deadline for comments is 11:59 December 10, 2010. The winners will be chosen randomly. And while you’re busy just commenting for the sake of winning, let me know your favorite books this year.
Here is the list. It’s much longer than I thought it was going to be. Even though everyone has been moaning and groaning about the state of publishing these days, my friends sure seem to be keeping the industry afloat. I’ve tried to keep the list to 2010. And since it’s so long, only a few lines on each. Most are cookbooks, but not all. Most are really my friends (with only a couple of fb colleagues thrown in, since their books are so great.)
Great Books by my Friends: 2010
Biscotti, Mona Talbott
I’ve already written about this fabulous new book of delicious cookie recipes from the Mona Talbott, who runs the Rome Sustainable Food Program at the American Academy in Rome. A small book, but chock full of delciousness.
My Mother’s Clothes, Jeanette Montgomery Barron
The book is exactly what the title says: photographs of Jeanette's mother's clothes. As her mother was slowly succumbing to Alzheimer's, Jeanette began to photograph her cherished wardrobe. She used these images as a way to reconnect with her mother and with her quickly fading past.
The images are hauntingly beautiful.
In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, Melissa Clark
The way Melissa thinks and writes about food has profoundly influenced my own approach. Her newest book (the girl has written 30!) comes out of her NYTimes column and is full of yummy, easy and inspired recipes.
Ready for Dessert, David Lebovitz
I’ve always been a huge fan of David’s and was happy and proud to throw a book party for him this past summer in Rome. I’ve been cooking from his book much to the happiness of my family (and the unhappiness of my jeans).
Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan
I’ve never met Dorie in person, but we’ve chatted on fb, and she has got to be one of the most upbeat and talented people I know. I can’t wait to start cooking with Around My French Table so I can pretend I’m actually at her table.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Amanda Hesser
Amanda certainly doesn’t need my help in the PR department. And you’ve probably already bought this anyway. But just in case, it’s the new definitive book to have - and give.
Keeping the Feast, Paula Butturini
Paula and her husband John Tagliabue spent years in Rome working as journalists. This is Paula’s moving memoir about the healing power of food and family in the face of hardship.
Food, Wine, Burgundy, David Downie
This is David’s latest installment for the Little Book Room series. His Food, Wine Rome is one of my favorites, and I hope to be able to travel to France and use this new one soon.
The Italian Slowcooker, Michele Sciocolone
I love Michele’s books! This time she turns her attention to the slow cooker, so if you know someone who has one, this is the book for them.
Hip Hop Dog, Vladimir Radunsky
Not only is this award-winning children’s book illustrator a good friend, our daughters are friends and our dogs can’t get enough of each other.
The Pasta Book, Julia della Croce
Italian Home Cooking, Julia della Croce
Julia has TWO books out this year! As always, she is 24/7 Italian, and these two add to her long list of cookbooks.
Nuts in the Kitchen, Susan Herman Loomis
I’ve known Susan for years and her Italian Farmhouse Cooking and French Farmhouse Cooking are two of my favorites. Susan now turns her attention to nuts, which we all need to eat more of.
Female Nomad and Friends, Rita Golden Gelman
Rita is not a friend, but her daughter Jan is our unofficial ‘sister’ (she’s best friends with my sister Robin). So that makes Rita our unofficial ‘mother.’ This is Rita’s follow up to her first book, Female Nomad, and explores breaking bread around the world.
Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert
If you don’t know Liz’s Eat, Pray, Love then you must have been in a cave the last few years. This her most recent book, that explores the outcome of EPL: marriage.
Time for Dinner, Jenny Rosenstrach,
Jenny is not my friend, but is a friend of my sister Robin. I LOVE her blog, Dinner A Love Story. She wrote Time for Dinner with her pals from Cookie magazine and the book (and her blog) is all about cooking for your family (which is my favorite thing to do).
Born Round, Frank Bruni
Ok, I know Frank’s book came out last year, but the paperback release makes it the perfect gift for this year. An extremely well written and compelling tale of the former NYTimes restaurant critic’s relationship with food.
Italian Rustic: How to Bring Tuscan Charm into Your Home, Elizabeth Helman Minchilli
This one is really from last year. But it’s by me, so I get to include it in this list if I want to.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Even though I go out a lot, and keep up on all the new restaurants in Rome, I have my favorites. In fact, it’s often hard explaining to my editors at Bon Appetit or Food & Wine that when it comes to the restaurant scene in Rome ‘new’, ‘hip’, and ‘hot’ are not words that usually apply.
That’s why i was so thrilled that my editor at Epicurious let me write up a piece on old fashioned restaurants in Rome. These are all places that are dear to my heart and that I’ve been going to since I was about 12 years old and that my family and I - all three generations of us - still love.
On a Roman Holiday? Try These Classic Restaurants
That’s why i was so thrilled that my editor at Epicurious let me write up a piece on old fashioned restaurants in Rome. These are all places that are dear to my heart and that I’ve been going to since I was about 12 years old and that my family and I - all three generations of us - still love.
On a Roman Holiday? Try These Classic Restaurants
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I was all set to blog about making my own olive oil. But last week I had lunch with my good friend Pamela Sheldon Johns, and she kindly brought me a bottle of her newly pressed olive oil from her home in Tuscany. It got me thinking: since I enjoyed Pam's oil so much, wouldn't it be nice to hear from her about her olives?
If you don't already know it, Pamela is the author of 14 cookbooks (which I use all the time) and has a lovely home in Tuscany, Poggio Etrusco, where she leads delicious cooking classes and culinary adventures.
Our first olive harvest in 2001 at Poggio Etrusco, my farm in Montepulciano, was an emotional event. After years of researching and writing about making olive oil, I had a good intellectual knowledge about the process, but being hands-on for my own production was a sense of fulfillment I had never imagined. We spread the nets under the trees and began picking. The weather was cool, crisp, and clear. The sight of the olives and the leaves against the blue sky was stunning and the work was pleasant.
I insisted that everyone pick only by hand, no plastic rakes as they could damage the olive and it could get musty in the crate while waiting for us to finish picking. Time was of the essence, and as we neared the end, I decided to skip one large tree that was full of tiny green olives that for some reason didn’t look ready.
I was no stranger at the frantoio (olive pressing mill), as I had been bringing my culinary workshop groups there for years to learn about making olive oil. The air was humid and redolent of olive must, a welcome environment after the cool days outdoors. A large fireplace was lit and people were toasting bread over the coals to taste the fresh oil at its ultimate moment. I stayed with my olives throughout the whole process of grinding on the granite stones, loading on the mats and pressing, filtering, and finally the centrifuge. When the bright green stream of oil emerged, I admit I was weeping and my mouth was watering in anticipation of the pizzico, the peppery herbal sensation that is at its strongest in freshly pressed oil. As I drizzled my extra-virgin oil on a slice of toasted bread, I savored the richness and the owner of the frantoio laughed at my tears, asking how I liked my oil. It is delicious-I said- but it doesn’t have as much pizzico as I had hoped. “That’s not a problem,” he told me, “you just need to plant more coreggiolo variety, it is a tiny, green olive that gives you the pizzico.”
In the past, farmers waited until the last possible minute to harvest, allowing the olives to mature as much as possible, and harvesting them just before temperatures turned to freezing, sometimes as late as December or early January. The oil may have been fruiter with a higher yield, but it wasn’t as fresh tasting as it is now. The trend these days is to pick earlier, striving for more of the pizzico, the burn in the back of the throat that is an acquired taste and a prized characteristic of Tuscan oil. The pizzico is present in a variety of olive called coreggiolo, but can also be achieved from an immature olive of any variety, hence the earlier picking. I had my “olive epiphany” a few years ago, when for reasons out of my control I wasn’t able to pick my olives until mid-November. It was a warmer-than-usual season, and the olives were all ripened to black, even the little coreggiolo that is usually still green. I supposed that my oil would not have much pizzico that year, but in fact, the little coreggiolo still spoke up loud and clear with a spicy burn, while behind it was the magnificent fruitiness I remember from my first visits to Italy twenty-five years ago.
Tel/Fax (39) 0578 798 370
If you would like to buy some of Pamela's oil, she is very organized and professional and you can order it online. The oil is the best! And the beautiful bottles with the labels designed by her husband Johnny (who is an artist) make them the perfect gift. If you are so inclined, you can even sign up for an olive picking week.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I’m a big fan of Baladin beers. I am particularly fond of Isaac, with its hints of citrus and coriander. I go as often as I can justify to Balladin’s restaurant here in Rome, Open Balladin, since they have it on tap. So at the Salone I was totally psyched to meet the man behind the label, Teo Musso.
He’s kind of like the rock star of the Italian craft beer world. He was the first one to really make it big. But he also looks like a rock star. You know, leather jacket and tight jeans. So when I passed by his stand at the Salone I jumped at the chance to sit down and chat with him.
But things never turn out as you imagine they should. Instead of talking about his famous, well-loved beers I was fixated on his soda. Yes, soda. As in soda pop.
I just thought it was so cool that this guy, who can do anything he wants when it comes to beer, was launching three new sodas. I have to admit that the sun was shining on the bottles and they looked awful pretty sitting there. And they tasted even better than they looked.
A bit of background first: although a beer guy, Teo had actually developed two other very successful soft drinks for Lurisia: Chinotto and Gazzosa (both based on Slow Food -protected fruits) So the idea of developing his own label was the natural next step.
Cedrata is the prettiest: bright yellow reflecting the citron (cedro in Italian) that gives it its name, and bright, citrusy taste. Teo suggested pairing this with mozzarella, which actually sounds kind of fun.
Spuma is the strongest tasting of the bunch, and comes out of the tradition of colas that were developed in Italy in imitation of Coca Cola in the ’50’s. Dark in color, it blends vanilla, lemon and orange, with dark caramelized sugar. “It would be good with roasted meats,” Teo mused.
Teo was not amused at all when I asked him if he ever played around with mixing the beers and soft drinks, like they do all over Europe. You know, like a shandy? He gave me a firm ‘no’ to that question.
Being a cocktail kind of girl, you know the first thing I did when I got home. While I loved the sodas on their own, it’s rare that I would actually sit down and just have a soda. And while in theory I could serve them with a meal, would I really?
So, I decided to think of them as mixers, and I must say I was quite impressed with myself. I wonder if they will be on the Balladin menu next time I stop by?
Balladin Cedrata and Gin
2 oz Gin
1/2 bottle Balladin Cedrata
Balladin Ginger and Vodka
2 oz Vodka
1/2 bottle Balladin Ginger
Balladin Spuma and Rum
2 oz Rum
1/2 bottle of Balladin Spuma
For each of these drinks, fill a tall glass with ice, add liquids and stir gently.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
It’s been a few weeks since I got back from the Salone del Gusto, but I’m just starting to go over all of my notes, photographs and videos. Yes, videos. I took my trusty Flip to the Salone and had a lot of fun filming all the action.
There was a tremendous amount to do and see at the Salone. There were thousands of vendors from all over Italy and the world. There was also an enoteca, dozens of restaurants and even a cocktail bar (you know I’ll be writing about that)
But the section of the Salone that I kept coming back to, every day, was the Street Food area. This was the first year they have featured street food at the Salone, and it was a huge success. They invited a dozen artisans to come and set up stands around an outdoor ‘piazza’, where visitors could buy things like Olive Ascolane (stuffed, fried olives), Alice Fritte (Fried Anchovies) and Bombolette (Grilled Pork).
The prices were cheap, and the portions huge. Naturally I wanted to try as many things as possible, but there was no way I could finish each portion. Since the Salone is all about sustainability and nothing going to waste, I didn’t want to just taste then throw it away. So, what did I do? I ended up trading. Yes, I just walked up to people and struck up a conversation. “Want this last olive ascolana? I’m not going to finish it.” Rather than look at me strangely, they gladly took it and then handed over a bit of whatever they were eating.
It’s hard to pick out what I liked the best. But high at the top of the list was Focaccia col Formaggio di Recco. I actually bought and ate the entire portions myself (not sharing!) three times. This is a unique type of focaccia made in a small town just outside of Genoa. According to tradition, it dates back to the time of the Crusades, in 1189. Today, as one of the best known dishes from Liguria, it’s recognized with a IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) label.
Like most street food, it’s beauty lies in its simplicity. The ingredients include flour (“OO”), water and olive oil for the dough. The dough is worked until elastic and left to rest a half hour. It is then rolled out by hand, to less than a millimeter thick. Then the dough is carefully placed on the cooking sheet, dotted with crescenza cheese, and then topped with another paper thin layer of dough.
The top layer is gently patted down, sealed at the edges, and perforated with small holes to let the air escape. After a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, it’s popped into the oven for about 5-6 minutes.
Ok, I can’t transmit via blog the incredible taste of the crackling thin layers of dough encasing the oozing, warm cheese. But I can at least show you the incredible skill it takes to make them.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Last week Evan and I went out to lunch with Sienna, to celebrate her birthday. You would think between the three of us, coming up with a place to go to lunch would be easy. But we were all sort of stressed out, working, and somehow just couldn’t decide. Then I remembered Cavour 313. Even though this enoteca is literally right around the corner, Sienna and I always seem to forget about it.
In addition to being one of the best enoteche in town, and the oldest, it has great soups. Which makes it the perfect choice for lunch. Don’t you often feel like soup and a salad for lunch? Instead of pasta? (And yes, maybe a glass of great wine as well.) They always have a soup of the day, not an easy thing to find in Rome. The soup that day was a puree of fave and pumpkin, topped with a tangle of chicory. Perfect!
So last night I decided to whip up my own version. First of all, after a two week food binge with Evan, I was thinking maybe some healthy type of dish was in order. And secondly, it’s cold and rainy in Rome. Soup time.
I started with the basic idea of bean puree lightened with the addition of a vegetable, and topped with a bitter green.
Luckily Domenico spent the weekend in Bari, and came back with three sacks of legumes, including some cicherchie from Basilicata. If you don’t know them, cicherchie are the wild cousin of chickpeas. And like all things wild, they are so much better. They are big, flat and much stronger tasting than chickpeas.
Instead of pumpkin, I decided to use the fennel I got at the farmer’s market on Sunday to lighten things up. While I do like my legumes straight up, they are such a perfect pair with sweeter vegetables like squash and fennel.
And the greens? I had bought two big bunches of puntarelle. Puntarelle is a type of chicory that forms tiny, asparagus looking pointy spears in the middle of the bunch. It’s very labor intensive to prepare, since you must first peel off the leafy greens, and then carefully slice the spears into strips. The strips are then placed in a cold water bath, to soak for at least an hour. This allows them to lose some of their bitterness, while also curling up nice and pretty.
Although the leafy greens are perfectly good to eat, (they are chicory) there usually aren’t quite enough to make a real meal - or even side dish. But for my purposes - garnishing the soup- I had just the right amount. And a side dish of puntarelle salad included!
I know it’s hard to find puntarella in the States. Although the crunchy, bitter salad is unique, the typical garlicky dressing that goes on it would be wonderful on other types of chicory, like belgian endive or curly endive.
The soup turned out great. The earthy cicerchie were balanced by the sweet fennel, and the bitter mess-o-greens on top was not only pretty, but delicious. But, the thing that pulled it all together was a generous, final drizzle of bright green, freshly-pressed olive oil my friend Elizabeth Wholey brought to me from her farm in Umbria.
Puree of Cicherchie and Fennel Soup
2 cups cicerchie*
2 heads of fennel
Small bunch of chicory (about 3 cups)
Soak cicerchie for at least 6 hours in cold water.
Rinse cicerchie, and place in large pot, with enough water to cover by two inches. Add 1 Tablespoon salt, and bring to boil. Let simmer until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Drain the beans, reserving the water.
Return the beans to the pot, adding back just enough water to cover.
Chop fennel into half inch pieces and add to pot.
Return to simmer and cook till fennel is tender (about 12 minutes).
Puree entire contents of pot, adding more of the cicerchie liquid if needed. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
Boil chicory until just tender, in salted water. Drain.
Ladle into individual bowls. Top each with a small bunch of chicory. Drizzle with olive oil.
*you can certainly substitute chickpeas. But I did find a source for cicerchie.
(enough to dress about 6 cups of puntarelle, or other salad)
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh
juice from one lemon (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/3 cup olive oil (I used the freshly pressed olive oil I mentioned above, from my friend Elizabeth. It was extraordinary!)
Put all the ingredients in a blender, and mix till blended. Taste and adjust. You might like it a bit less lemony, if so add more oil. But it is a very strong tasting dressing.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
There are some places I pass by in Rome, while I’m on a bus or in the car, that I always mean to go to, and then immediately forget about as soon as they are out of sight. Fabindia, a store tucked between Piazza Navona and Castel Sant’Angelo is one of those.
I’d always admired the brightly hued fabrics in the windows, which looked bold, but tasteful. Yesterday I received an invitation to attend a charity organic market, and it turned out to be right in the front of the store.
Bold, bright fabrics are only half the story. They’ve got things for the house, as well as clothes. Not a lot of either, but what they have I liked a lot. Simple tablecloths and napkins. Pot holders, dish towels, etc. Then gorgeous quilted cotton jackets and coats, plus robes, nightgowns and pijamas. And not that expensive.
Evidently the company, Fabindia, has been going for 50 years. But they’ve only recently opened a few international boutiques, outside of India, like the one in Rome.
I only picked up a pair of potholders today, but I’ll definitely be heading back for more Christmas shopping.
Via di Banco di Spirito 40
Saturday, November 13, 2010
If you’ve been reading the blog lately, you know my friend Evan Kleiman was visiting for the last two weeks. My friends here in Rome, who I’ve sort of been ignoring, have asked me “But what have you been doing?” The very last thing Evan and I did before she left was attend a magnificent lunch at Al Ceppo given by Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, of the Capezzana Estate, to introduce this year’s freshly pressed olive oil. Both Evan and I had tasted, and loved, this oil before, so it was a real treat to meet Bea and celebrate the new oil with her.
During the two weeks Evan was here, I kept bugging her to guest blog here. I guess we were just too busy having fun. I will be posting some of the recipes she cooked in Rome, but in the meantime I’ll just link to her post about the olive oil on her own blog at Good Food. Evan also recorded an interview her for her radio show, which I’ll link to as soon as it is broadcast.
Here is Evan's blog post about Capezzana's New Oil.
Here are a few of the unbelievable photos I took. Evan’s blog post will tell you the back story behind this great oil.But yes, to answer your question: the oil was actually that neon green color. I wish I could somehow transmit the taste to you. Transcendental.
(I did manage to find a source for it in the States here. )
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 9:51 AM
Friday, November 12, 2010
My friend Evan Kleiman was in town the past two weeks. Among the major projects we set out to accomplish, eating gelato was at the top of the list. Last May I made the rounds of some of the best gelaterie in Rome, and wrote up my list of favorites. A lot of you wrote in and I realized that I was missing some important artisans. So, Evan and I set off in Sophie’s Smart car (even though we probably should have been walking between cones) and worked our way across town.
Why does Prati have such a high concentration of great gelaterie? I guess since it’s so densely residential, as well as having some great shopping districts. In other words, a lot of foot traffic. I always think that a test of any ice cream place is their nut flavors, and Gracchi came out with flying colors. We tried both pistachio, and pistacchio with merengue. Both were creamy and full of big chunks of pistachios. Like all the best gelaterie, the flavors here reflect the season, since they only use fresh ingredients. persimmon was out of this world, like biting into a big juicy piece of fruit. But our hands down favorite was roasted chestnut.
Fior di Luna
A lot of people wrote to me about Fior di Luna. It’s located smack on one of the busiest streets in Trastevere, where you’d expect to find something much more commercial. But Fior di Luna goes directly in the opposite direction, using incredibly hard-to-source, organic and fair trade ingredients. It was really good, and I really liked the peanut, especially when paired with chocolate. But...there was something a bit too healthy and honest about the ice cream. Some of that fair trade chocolate just isn’t the best you can get, and it tasted a bit off. Don’t get me wrong, Fior di Luna is very good. Just not as good as some of the rest on my list.
I’d always heard about Il Gelato, but since it was way the heck out in EUR, I knew I’d never be going there. Thankfully they have made the effort to open a store closer to me, on Viale Aventino. Thank you very much. I would have never discovered it if my friend Jane hadn’t brought me there this summer, after we went swimming in a friends pool on the Aventino. (Private pool, then great gelato? Doesn’t get any better than that). So, the verdict? After trying all the rest, both Evan I have declared that this wins the Evan and Elizabeth Ice Cream Award for November 2010. We spent a half hour there and tried, I think, most of the flavors (the girl must have thought we were insane). Our favorites? Don’t be shocked, but we loved loved loved both the celery and the habanero. I know they sound strange but they weren’t. Brie con Frutti di Bosco was creamy and just cheesy enough. Evan’s faves included Fior di Sesamo and Zabaione. Don’t worry, they have ‘normal’ flavors too. After Evan and I each had a large cup, plus another cone, we bought some of the more normal flavors to take back to Emma and Domenico. Yes, we helped put that away as well.
Via dei Gracchi 272
Fior di Luna
Via della Lungaretta 96
Viale Aventino 59
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The other day I was walking by the newish Enoteca della Provincia Romana, near the Column of Trajan. I always forget about this place, since I rarely walk through this corner of Piazza Venezia. It opened about a year ago, and is subsidized and supported by the Provincia of Rome. It’s a restaurant and in front there are a few shelves that sell a selection of products.
The products are always from around Rome, but change slightly from month to month, according to what is being promoted, as does the menu and wine list. Last month, for instance, the featured producers were prisoners. And the mentally ill. And the handicapped. And drug addicts. You see Italy actually has one law that sort of works. This is the law that says that part of prison’s budget has to go towards training the inmates for a career when they get out (and ditto for the drug addicts, etc. ). A few of these institutions have actually managed to establish themselves as producers of high quality wines, salamis, cheeses and jams.
I discovered all of this while researching the Italian episodes for Gourmet’s Diary of A Foodie a couple years ago. We visited Velletri prison where I met with and spoke to inmates making wine and jam. Here’s a clip of me in action. (I was actually supposed to be walking through the vineyards with the prisoners, talking to them. But, frankly, I got pretty freaked out with the knives they were using to prune the vines.)
The Enoteca has a full program that you can see here. (the website is a bit lacking, since it links through the Provincia.) Every Wednesday and Saturday, from 5 to 7pm, there are tastings of the products you can attend. And the restaurant is open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 11pm.
November 5 - 20 is the Festa of Novello (which I hate) but also chestnuts (which I love).
November 22 - 30 is Women and Wine in Lazio.
For more information on the wines made in the Velletri Prison visit Lazzaria, which partners with the prison to market the wines.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
As you can tell from this blog, I cook a lot. I love eating at home, and if you want to know the truth, most of the time I think my cooking is as good (or better) than what I eat in restaurants. But I do love going out too. Sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking. And sometimes what I am craving is beyond my skill set.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I’ve been visiting Rome’s markets this week with my friend Evan while she’s in town. Yesterday, after a huge Sunday lunch at Perilli’s we swung by the farmers’ market on Via San Teodoro. The market is open every Saturday and Sunday, and we arrived about 3:30 on Sunday. It’s safe to say the market at that hour looked a bit like all my friends I ran into there. Kind of tired after all their Saturday partying.