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…]
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, raved over it, as have so many other readers 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…]
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.
If you missed it, click on the logo below to hear my broadcast on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” The lead: For 27 years, Julia made her gnocchi with sweet potatoes, mixing an American staple into the classic recipe. “Here I was, one foot in the new world and one foot in Italy, where my family is from, and they seemed perfect for gnocchi. Why not?” And in all that time, her dumplings were sweet, served with a hazelnut butter sauce, and — most importantly — a lovely shade of orange. This is one way I serve them–American style–alongside roasted duck. […more…]
February, with its serial blizzards and record-shattering low temperatures has been a cruel month for New Yorkers. At the farmers market, such as it is, there are root vegetables galore, potatoes that have been in storage since fall, and not much else. In truth, it’s the best time for pillowy sweet potato gnocchi, which are best made when the tubers are not freshly harvested and brimming with moisture. My friend and neighbor, Joan Gussow, grows her own sweet potatoes and we made them together on a recent blustery day along with my two daughters in her light-filled kitchen on the […more…]
In response to my story in Zester Daily, Love and Zucca: Why Venice Adores its Pumpkin, a reminiscence of Marcella Hazan, sent from her husband, Victor… Bravissima. You have shined your knowledge and intelligence on an ingredient as unfamiliar to American cooks as it is sought after by the cooks of the Veneto. And by the Emiliani as well who use it to stuff cappellacci. Marcella substituted orange-fleshed yams, which come close to the zucca’s taste, and called them Cappellacci del Nuovo Mondo. Every year, when we had not yet installed an elevator and lived 82 steps above sea level, Maurizio […more…]
Around this time of year the food press sounds its perennial advice on pumpkin pie, but what is usually overlooked are the endless dishes, both sweet and savory, that you can make using edible pumpkins and squashes. Probably no one reveres the pumpkin as much as the Italians, and the Venetians in particular, the subject of my most recent article for Zester Daily, “Why Venice Adores its Pumpkins.” Read about the Venetians’ love affair with zucca, and find my heirloom recipe for savory pumpkin or winter squash stew with tomato, dry-cured olives, and garlic.
Some time back, I wrote a post, “When Bitter is Sweet,” about broccoli rapini, the Italian greens that have taken this country by storm since Balducci’s, the legendary Greenwich Village Italian grocery, imported them here in 1973. Because so many readers said they were relieved to finally learn how to cook them properly to soften their bitter edge, I decided to find out how and why the delicious Brassica, about which there is still such a mystique, was transplanted from the heel of the Italian boot to the farmlands of California. Here’s the update, complete with Andy and Nina Balducci’s […more…]
It’s not every day that you find a missing link to history–in this case, pasta history. Read about how I found a lost recipe, progenitor of the union of pasta and the tomato in, of all places, Brooklyn, New York. Then again, the site of the find was D. Coluccio & Sons, the iconic Bensonhurst Italian grocery. Maybe not such a surprise after all. After reading the new article, you may never again take for granted spaghetti and meatballs, or any other variation on the theme of pasta and tomato sauce. You wouldn’t imagine such a simple dish could be so splendid–and […more…]
NOTE: FOR SOME REASON, THE FIRST PART OF MY LAST POST EVAPORATED IN CYBERSPACE AS IT WAS ON ITS WAY FROM ME TO YOU, SO PLEASE HIT THIS LINK TO READ IT NOW–-AND THEN, COME BACK HERE! Right, so as I was saying, every August food writers feel compelled to tell their readers what to do about “zucchini fatigue,” as my NPR radio host called our zucchini abundance only yesterday while interviewing a couple of food experts and myself about “the problem.” The first interviewee speaking on the program, a fine cook and fellow cookbook writer, accused the poor vegetables […more…]