Aug 242014
 

Anchor Shot, Zucchini Pickle

Pickling hasn’t been this hot in America since covered wagon days when being able to preserve food for the long cold winters meant the difference between life and death (remember “Little House on the Prairie”)? Besides anything else, pickling is downright fun. If you know how to, you’re ahead of the game, but if you don’t, did you know that you can “quick pickle” in the time it takes to boil water and vinegar together? Here’s my latest article in Zester Daily for doing just that with the one crop that everyone always seems to have too much of, zucchini. Why not make it into a Calabrian pickle before it’s too late? Here are some perfect specimens I found at the Pleasantville Farmers Market in Westchester NY this weekend that would be just right for the pickle jar. 

baby zucchini

Little Seeds Gardens summer squash, Pleasantville Farmers Market. Photo: Nathan Hoyt

All of these tender summer squash were grown by Little Seed Gardens Organic CSA Farm, Chatham, New York. Photos by Nathan Hoyt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 102014
 

The recipe in my last post for a quick and easy steak and potato dish (read here) seemed to be especially popular, and some of you sent me comments and variations. I’m passing some of them along here. One more thing…do wash it all down with a nice Pugliese red. Salute!

A Pugliese red wine with taralli, bread knots. Photo: Nathan Hoyt

A Pugliese red wine with taralli, bread knots. Photo: Nathan Hoyt

Great recipe, Julia–reminds me of Tuscan tagliata di bistecca. And perfect for a no-nonsense meal on a hot summer night. You reminded me that the great teaching chef Bill Briwa from the CIA (you know which one of those I mean) experimented with beef and olive oil and found that rare beef, whether roasted or a grilled steak, has a calming, taming effect on those gutsy peppery olive oils we oliophiles love so much, suppressing some of their fieriness and bringing out the natural sweetness of olives. —Nancy Harmon Jenkins, Cortona, Italy

 

Dear Julia, I realize I never did write and say that the meal was spectacular. In fact, as I was preparing it, I realized I couldn’t eat it by myself, so I called my friend Toby in Nyack and she was free for dinner so I had her come to eat.  The olive oil dressing was PERFECT.  Thank you more than I can say for sharing your precious oil with me.  I had some dressing left over and had left-over everything last night, except I didn’t pick more arugula but used finely cut Siberian kale which is very mild.  Delicious.  I love the combination which I would never have thought of making–Toby thought it would have been just as good without the steak!!!—Joan Dye Gussow, Piermont, NY

 

Hi Julia, Did your recipe for steak last night. Added a few things like a variety of sliced cherry tomatoes on the side, shaved sweet white onion under the steak and of course a nice French red to go with it. Delicious! —John F. Carafoli, Cape Cod, MA

I wrote:

 Dear John F. Carofoli, A nice FRENCH red? Really???

 

Julia della Croce's Peppery Steak, Potato and Arugula Salad | Photo: Nathan Hoyt

Julia della Croce’s Peppery Steak, Potato and Arugula Salad | Photo: Nathan Hoyt

 

Aug 022014
 
Steak and Potatoes Take on New Meaning Doused with Bold Olive Oils

After my recent travels to Puglia, Italy’s southernmost region, I’ve had its big, bold olive oils on my mind. The province of Bari, founded well before the 8th century BC when it was absorbed by Magna Graecia, has lived on olive oil for millennia. Today the area still makes most of Italy’s olive oils. Drive past places with names like Cassano delle Murge, Bitetto, Bitonto, Bitritto, and Binetto, and you see nothing but forests of olive trees and billows of sky, interrupted now and then by towns undisturbed by tourism. But where once, production was geared toward quantity to meet Europe’s [...more...]

Jul 172014
 
Readers Write: Dr. Brownlee and His Pasta Prodigy

Every now and then someone sends me a message that’s a real charmer. Here’s one I received at the end of last summer about a recipe that appears in my very first cookbook, Pasta Classica: The Art of Italian Pasta Cooking. The writer, Dr. John Brownlee, and so many other readers, have raved about it over three decades, so I’m sharing the message and recipe here.  I am preparing to make lo Stracotto for the second time from your book Pasta Classica, which I purchased in 1988 in New Orleans. It taught me to make pasta, a gift which I have [...more...]

Jul 022014
 
True American Eats for the 4th: Fiery Italian-Fried Chicken Wings

There’s thunder and lightening from where I’m sitting looking out my kitchen window, with no sign of let-up for July 4th. If that means a change of plans for you from an all-American barbecue, consider the Independence Day tradition of the American South: fried chicken. While I grew up in an Italian household, fried chicken was always a special dish and it fit in just fine with potato salad and all the other American trimmings. Whether it’s Kentucky-fried, Georgia-fried, or Italian-fried, it’s as American as grilling on the Fourth of July. Here’s my recipe, sprinkled with some fried chicken history. [...more...]

Jun 102014
 
Love Me Tender: The Italian Way with Green Beans

Besides home-grown tomatoes, green beans from my garden are the vegetable I most look forward to in summer. Right after my beans seeds went into the ground and my thoughts turned to eating them, it occurred to me to write Love Me Tender, a story for Zester Daily, about how I like them best. You may want to know my favorite way to cook them if you love them as much as I do, and if you don’t, you might change your mind after you read  here.  

Apr 112014
 
Ancient Roman Statue Discusses a Tender Subject

Just when I was thinking I should offer a recipe with an accompanying historical yarn about abbacchio, the suckling lamb that is Rome’s gastronomical obsession at Easter, this lively story about just that, titled “Pasquino Discusses a Tender Subject” landed in my mailbox. The author, Anthony Di Renzo, who chronicles a fading Italian world in his novels, writes a column for the California-based  L’Italo-Americano newspaper under the pen name, “Pasquino.” For those not steeped in Roman lore, “Pasquino” is the nickname of an ancient, battered statue that lost its arms during the sack of Rome and was buried in a ditch until April Fool’s [...more...]

Mar 042014
 
Heart of Nicaragua: Grace and Magic in a Corn Masa Cookie

Travels with Julia || Nicaragua Maybe because growing up in a family that endured the last world war in Italy, often hungry, my journey as a writer is concerned with food. For me, everything about it fascinates—growing it, harvesting it, cooking it, understanding its cultural trajectory. The recipes are metaphors, albeit edible ones. When I traveled to Nicaragua recently to meet up with my daughter and make our way together to a remote village in the country’s highlands, I learned such a recipe, one that has come to have meaning for me far beyond the discovery of a new dish. [...more...]

Feb 242014
 
The Magical Gluten-Free Cookie: A Rosquilla Lesson, Step-by-Step

Following up on my recent story in Zester Daily about delicious corn masa cookies I discovered in Nicaragua, we took photographs of the method in hopes that you’ll find them as easy to make as I did. Sweet rosquillas are Nicaragua’s answer to shortbread, but wheat-free. Both sweet and savory versions of mass-produced rosquillas are ubiquitous in the markets and on street corners all around the country. Peddlars hawked them at the bus terminal where we started our journey but they are not the same as those I learned to make in El Lagartillo. I have no doubt that the national obsession with this [...more...]