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 242014
 
Going Italian at the Fancy Food Show

Summer Fancy Food Show, New York, 2014. The Italians always come bearing cheeses and prosciutto, impeccably dressed and wearing the latest eyeglass styles. If you want to sample some truffles or condimento, they’d rather huddle together in the back corner of their little booths and sip espresso than give you any. You have to wait until they’re good and ready to sell you something, or for those without importers yet, to promote something. That’s the the idea, isn’t it?—To sell you something? Even my “Press” badge doesn’t budge them. Still, the Italian pavilion is always my first stop. I like [...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 152014
 
Toritto, Puglia: An Afternoon in My Father's Land

My father left his native Toritto as an infant in his mother’s arms in 1909. With his young parents and grandmother, he sailed for Ellis Island in steerage. The family said that in those bleak times in Puglia, they had survived by eating the wild greens that grew in the fields where they had toiled. Although he returned to Italy many times as an adult, especially to the Carrara quarries to buy marble for his shop in America, my father never went back to where he was born. What kindled his memory was the food he was raised on. His [...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.  

May 192014
 
A 3,000-Year Tradition Makes for Sublime Italian Prosciutto

If you’ve been following my posts this month, you know that I’ve been in Italy at the invitation of the Italian Trade Commission exploring the products of food artisans working in the country’s twenty regions. Throughout May, I’ll be publishing vignettes on some of the food producers I met, both at the 78th annual artisans expo in Florence in April, and subsequently traveling throughout the country. Italian artisans have been making air-cured hams as far back as Etruscan times some 3,000 years ago, originally from the haunches of wild boar. Eventually, pigs were bred and pampered specially for producing prosciutto crudo, [...more...]

May 162014
 
Miggiano, Puglia: A Sighting of an Olive Wood Nymph

Meandering through the ancient olive groves owned by producers Marta Consiglia and her brother, Vito Lisi in Miggiano, Puglia, I came upon an olive wood nymph. If we hadn’t captured her on camera, you wouldn’t have believed me. The tree from which she emerged is 500 years old and still producing olives for oil, the lifeblood of a region has been cultivating olives for oil for over 5000 years. Until modern times, much of the oil was crude and inedible, destined for lampante, lamp oil that lit the streets, homes, and churches of Europe. Today, the family produces organic, high quality [...more...]