Month: August 2011


Italian Stuffed Artichokes

As far as I’m concerned there’s only one way to enjoy a movie: cuddled up to a plate of stuffed artichokes. I’ve already managed to brainwash the rest of the clan into agreement. I started young with Ava – at 10 months old she became enamored when I found one the size of her head. Today – at just two years old – she’s an artichoke eatin’ pro. To enjoy your next movie with an artichoke, you just need three accessories: a giant bowl for the discarded leaves, napkins, and a small bowl of melted butter with fresh lemon juice squeezed in, if you like that sort of thing. My husband doesn’t…I do… So we have separate dipping bowls. This recipe has been passed down in my family for generations – although everyone makes it different. Mom actually never wrote her version down, so I had to watch and try to memorize her steps. Lucky for me, it’s really easy – just stir everything together, pile onto the trimmed artichoke, steam for 45 minutes-1 hour and enjoy. …

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Alfred’s Pork Ravioli

Makes enough filling for at least 150 standard ravioli I have fond memories of curling up on the basement stairs, hanging over the railing, watching my great-great, very distant I’m-not-quite-sure-how-we’re-related cousin, Alfred, make ravioli. I’ll never forget the way the ravioli rolling pin zipped out dozens of ravioli in a heartbeat. Alfred lived to 103 and I attribute that partly to the fact that he continued making ravioli two-three times a year, well into his nineties. He’d make a few hundred at a time, spreading out the work over several days (you can read his letter below to see exactly what he did). Here’s my recommendation: Day one: Eat pork chops for dinner. Save leftovers. Day two: Make the dough and filling. Refrigerate. Day three: Roll the dough and make the ravioli. Dry overnight, turning once. Day four: Freeze. Ingredients: 3 bone-in pork chops, grilled and cooled 1 lb frozen chopped spinach, defrosted 4 large eggs 1 cup plain breadcrumbs 1 cup Parmesan 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp pepper 1/4 cup whole milk 1/4 cup …

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Menu: Italy

This week I can shut my eyes and dream my way to Italy.  All I need is to dust my hands with flour, slap around some pasta dough, and fill the house with the scent of steamed artichoke. In an instant, I’m there. Just knowing that I’m making recipes that my family has made for hundreds of years (in some form or another), brings a smile to my face – it’s like a mini vacation from the unknown so common in this adventure. Then, as I watch Ava help me cook and enjoy the food, my heart triples in size because I know – the recipes will live on. What sounds good to you? Homemade Pasta Dough [Recipe] This dough is soft, like a baby’s bottom – made with nothing more than flour, eggs, and a splash of water.  The secret is to let it rest before trying to roll it out. That and slapping it around a lot. Seriously. Alfred’s Pork Ravioli [Recipe] Alfred lived to 103. He kept himself young by making these pork ravioli …

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About the Food of Italy

Mom proudly calls the Italian side of our family peasants. The old-fashioned word makes me laugh, but she insists that’s exactly what they were. They weren’t nobility. They weren’t merchants. They were peasants. Farmers, if you will. More specifically, they worked the mushroom fields in Cicagna, Italy – a bumpkin-sized town near Genoa. From what I understand, our family left behind a mountainside villa and acres of mushrooms for a passport to Ellis Island. In their absence, my great-grandparents allowed a family to stay at the villa for free, as long as they worked the fields and shipped mushrooms to them, in United States, every so often. After thirty years without a visit and some political mumbo jumbo, the villa automatically transferred to the renters. Lost. And so, too – decades before I was born – my dream of living in an Italian mountainside villa was lost. Still, mom made sure I was thoroughly steeped in our Italian heritage – going so far as to give me my grandmother, Dorothea’s, maiden name – Foppiano. And what a pretty name …

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Monday Meal Review: Israel

THE SCENE Ava wanted nothing to do with the hummus. She shook her head. She closed her eyes. She even yelled “No!!!!” – in case I didn’t get the message. I took a deep breath and calmly said “Ok.” Little did she know, I had a plan. The very next day I whipped out the food processor. “Want to help mama?” I asked, smiling big. “Okay!” she cheered, with big eyes, anticipating a fantastic treat. “Please drop the chickpeas into the food processor,” I said nonchalantly. “Yes” she said, sneaking one before she did so. “Should we add some parsley?” I asked. “Uhuh,” she nodded, her little hand grabbing a fistful and dropping it in. “More?” she asked “Ok! And what about oil?” “Okay!” And on it went. She loved it. In a final flourish, I let her push the button. “BzzzRRRRRRRRRRRaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah” she exclaimed, laughing as the mixture pureed in a smooth dip. I tasted it, adjusted the seasonings, and let her blitz it again. Proudly, I offered her a spoonful. Ava shook her head no. Then, …

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Lemon-Limeade with fresh mint | Israeli Juice

Dilutes up to 1 gallon Have you ever sipped on the sun? First you have to chill it, so it doesn’t taste as much like a “ball of fire.”  The compression of all the heat particles actually makes it sour. Like lemon sunshine. Then you squeeze it and sweeten it. I’ve read somewhere that limes are actually cooled moonbeams. They go well with the sunshine, especially with a handful of mint. That’s what’s happening with Israeli juice – summer sunshine in a glass, with a hint of funky nighttime. Ingredients 3/4 cup lemon juice (3 large lemons) 1/4 cup lime juice (1-2 limes) 1 cup (tart)- 1 1/2 cups (sweeter) sugar 1/4 cup water 3-5 sprigs of mint ice and water, as needed (for diluting) Method: Hello summer. Let me cover up my paper cuts, so we can become acquainted. First, squeeze enough lemons and limes to make 1 cup of strained juice. Do it while overlooking a sun-shiny, water-lapped town. Next, make simple syrup. Over low heat, gently simmer as much sugar as you’d like …

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Lemon-Garlic Hummus

Makes 2+ cups You know how you think you know something…. Like the earth is round. Or flowers bloom. Or hummus goes into a bowl? … only to have your vision shattered? Your dreams crushed? Yeah. Turns out not everything is as it seems. The earth is not perfectly round. It’s a “bumpy spheroid” according to Scientific American. And flowers don’t always bloom. Especially when it’s over 100F for well over a month. My crispy garden is testament to that. And hummus doesn’t go in a bowl. It goes on a plate. I learned that from the Israelis. How’s that for blowing your mind? Ingredients: 2 cans chickpeas, drained (reserve 1/4 cup whole chickpeas for garnish) 3 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon, juiced and strained) parsley, small palmful – plus extra for garnish 2 cloves garlic 1 tsp tahini, or more to taste 1/3 cup olive oil salt Grilled pita bread, for dipping Method: First step, find a nice spot to make the hummus. Perhaps while perched in the middle of a chickpea field. Mmm. Imagine all the …

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Israeli Fruit Salad

Say “camel” and the first word that comes to mind is hump. Please tell me I’m not alone in this. I don’t even have to be in the desert – I could be standing in a pool with a large, cold drink in my hand – but just thinking about camels makes me incredibly thirsty. And jealous. A camel doesn’t need to hold their drink. They don’t even need to use their mouth to hydrate.  They just stand there, continually refreshed by their built-in portable hydration hump. Camel humps are huge (weighing up to 80 pounds) and can keep a camel hydrated for up to seven months in the winter. Seven months without a sip of water! Sigh. Now. Don’t become discouraged. Even though we’ll still need to pick up our glasses to drink from them, there is another clever way to hydrate. And Israel is loaded up with it… we might as well call it the human portable hydration hump. Otherwise known as citrus. Oranges. Grapefruits. Juicy, juicy. So, to combat the thirst-inducing effects of a camel ride (or …

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Skillet Eggs with Tomatoes & Peppers | Shakshouka

Serves 2-4 Ava’s my little alarm clock. Most days we get up about 8 am (bless her). On the mornings that I wake up before Ava, I like to sit in the drowsy quiet, by the window. I’m not really asleep. I’m not really awake. I’m just glad for a few minutes to stare into the stillness and daydream. Often my thoughts turn to people in other countries. Slowly, I sip my tea and wonder … what are they doing, right now? Are they sleeping? Awake? Are they happy? Sad? Do they Tweet? Are they obsessively checking their Facebook? Are they sitting by a window wondering about me? Hello? Is any body out there? And then Ava wakes up and the excitement of the day begins. I can tell you one thing for sure – right now, somewhere in Israel, someone is eating Shakshouka, breaking their bread and dipping it in the rich sauce. This simple one-pot dish was once considered the working man’s food and is balanced – loaded up with protein, veggies, and …

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Menu: Israel

When the storm clouds blot out the sun, do you say: “Hurrah – I love the way rain feels on my face.” When your cup is empty, do you say: “How great to have a cup!” When all you have are a few lemons, do you ask: “Who would like to share a splash of lemonade?” Our week at the Israeli Global Table is a celebration of the delicious treats that can be made out of a surprising few ingredients. Treats fellow food optimists will love. (A Food Optimist is often found to say: Sure I can make something out of that – no problem!) Are you a Food Optimist? What sounds good to you? Lemon-Garlic Hummus [recipe] A highly flavorful hummus, seasoned with fresh lemon juice, garlic, and lots of parsley. As a bonus, this quick recipe comes together in 5 minutes. Shakshouka [recipe] An Israeli breakfast. Eggs poached on top of a tomato pepper sauce. Garnished with plenty of parsley and served with crusty bread. Citrus Salad [recipe] Nothing says Israel like a simple orange and grapefruit …

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Man reading a newspaper in the Dead Sea.

About the food of Israel

Listen up, hipsters. While you can find snow in the mountains of Israel, you’re a lot more likely to find a splash of sunshine and a heavy dose of beautiful Mediterranean summer. In short, Israel has the perfect climate for a smile – especially while floating effortlessly along the dead sea, even if your right foot looks like it is about to fall off. No judgement here, but you might want to get that thing checked out, Mr. Anonymous Newspaper-reading Man. As good as the weather is, things get a little more sour when it comes to the food. Literally. Cover up your paper cuts, friends, because this beautiful country is renowned for her citrus production. Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits all zing their way into the most wonderful juices [recipe], salads [recipe], and treats on the Israeli table. For something a little more tame, try hitting up an Israeli street stand. The most popular street food includes falafel, hummus, and pita. Imagine pulling up your chair to chow down on a pita stuffed with falafel, hummus [recipe], cucumber, tomatoes, and french …

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Monday Meal Review: Ireland

THE SCENE There she was, sitting on the rickety bus bench, fiddling with her cellphone. As I drove by I looked at her. She was old – ancient, really. Her head, lost under the brim of her giant camo hat, barely came up over the bench she was sitting on. Not quite four feet tall, her tiny frame was lost in a sea of plastic bags – filled with enough food to last her the week. I’ve watched her for the last few years, the way a busy person observes the changing foliage – in regretful passing. I’ve seen the effort it takes her to do her shopping – 6 bags of groceries, 2 cases of soda…  crossing four lanes of traffic at rush hour (never at the cross walk; it’s too much of a detour), steadily carrying one bag at a time. She’d carefully place each bag down on the bench, then shuffle back to the other side of the street to get another. As usual, I was headed somewhere when I saw her – to …

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