Nov 242014
 
©Cat and apples, by Laura Cornell* for "The Discriminating Diner," by Julia della Croce for Gannett, 1981

©Laura Cornell, 1981* for “The Discriminating Diner,” by Julia della Croce (WRN/Gannett Newspapers)

We’re getting close to Thanksgiving, so I’m sending out this little dessert recipe that will cuddle up to pumpkin pie (why have only one dessert?)—or even replace it. Everyone will love you for adding some Italian panache to the feast. Continue reading here for the recipe…

Baked Apples, Amaretti Filling@, by Julia della Croce | Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales

Baked Apples, Amaretti Filling@, by Julia della Croce | Photo: Nathan Hoyt/Forktales

*A Note about the artist: This whimsical watercolor was painted by one of my favorite illustrators, Laura Cornell, for my weekly column in the now defunct “Suburbia Today” Sunday magazine section of the Westchester-Rockland (Gannett) newspapers. Laura, already a successful illustrator, went on to become a published author of children’s books as well, including numerous #1 New York Times bestselling titles she co-authored with Jamie Lee Curtis.

Oct 212014
 
Pumpkin on a stool outside a shop in Charleston, N.C. | Photo: ©Nathan Hoyt

Pumpkin on a stool outside a shop in Charleston, N.C. | Photo: ©Nathan Hoyt

With pumpkin season upon us, I was reminded of a delicious recipe for pumpkin baklava that a Greek chef, Martina Colombotos, made for me some thirty years ago. It was so good that COOK’S magazine ran a story I wrote about Matina and her baklava in their October issue all those years back.

The late Matina Colombotos, by portrait photographer Richard Bowditch, reprinted from COOK'S, 1981

The late Matina Colombotos, by portrait photographer Richard Bowditch, reprinted from COOK’S, 1981 | @Richard Bowditch

Here’s the recipe, written up in a Halloween piece I wrote for Zester Daily for a grown-up Halloween treat.

Matina Colombotos' Pumpkin Baklava | Photo: ©Tom Hopkins

Matina Colombotos’ Pumpkin Baklava | Photo: ©Tom Hopkins

My husband and collaborator, Nathan Hoyt, carved up a pumpkin for Halloween. Thanks to him, and to Richard Bowditch and Tom Hopkins for the original photos. Happy Halloween to everyone (grown ups, especially!).

Jack-o'Lantern by Nathan Hoyt. | Photo: ©Nathan Hoyt

Jack-o’-Lantern by Nathan Hoyt. | Photo: ©Nathan Hoyt

 

Aug 242014
 
Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Pickle, in Ten Minutes

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 […more…]

Aug 102014
 
Readers Write: About that Peppery Steak Salad Scented with Olive Oil...

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! 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 […more…]

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…]