House Guests and Broken Pipes

  • December 18, 2017
  • Blog
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Week two into my house guests’ stay, I was washing pots in preparation for making supper when I realized my feet felt warm. A nice feeling in the wintertime. Then I realized my feet felt wet. I looked down and saw half my kitchen floor covered in water.

Step Away From the Computer and No One Will Get Hurt

  • July 24, 2017
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There’s an old I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel bet Ricky and Fred that they couldn’t manage without modern conveniences. Although the episode is really funny, I loved it for the actual doing of things, like baking bread and churning butter. I doubt I’d want to do that on a regular basis, but once in a while chores like that have a certain charm. Things take the time they take.

World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates, by Roberta Roberti

  • December 05, 2016
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Full disclosure: I was the copy editor of this book. In case you think that makes me want to gush, think again. I had to look at each page with a critical eye. I could not allow myself to be swayed by the pretty pictures or charming anecdotes. Each recipe needed to be thought out and visualized. I’ve read too many cookbooks that omitted a step or even an ingredient. (One cookbook listed a recipe in its index and in one of its menus but left out the actual recipe.)

World Party was a pleasure. I learned food facts that were artfully interspersed with recipes, and was introduced to ingredients far outside my comfort zone. I bookmarked dishes to try and cautiously considered others. Roberta Roberti’s book showed me how deficient I am in the world’s cuisine. Here are a few of the recipes she gives and the country each is from:

Barbados

Black Bean Cakes with Mango-Peach Salsa

Ecuador

Morocho/Spiced Corn Drink

Ireland

Pub Ale Cheese Spread

Kenya

M’baazi/Coconut Beans

Norway

Lefse/Potato Crepes

Spain

Aceitunas Fritas/Fried Olives

Turkey

Piyaz/White Bean Salad

I hope you’ll take a look and try this cookbook for the simple pleasure of tempting one’s palate with flavors that might be familiar—or, more excitingly, are not.

World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d”oeuvres and Party Plates

 

Good Food, Good Company (and a recipe)

  • September 12, 2016
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On Friday afternoon, a writer friend invited me for lunch. Along with homemade gazpacho soup and slices of tomato with fresh basil leaves and mozzarella, there was insalata di fagiolini, patate e pomodori (green bean, potato and tomato medley) from Roberta Roberti’s cookbook Vegetarian Italian Traditions (Volume 1).

With Italian bread on the side, it was a simple and sublime meal. The perfect meal for a hot and humid day, bolstered up with friends. With the author’s permission, I’m including the recipe here:

Insalata di Fagiolini, Patate e Pomodori (Green Bean, Potato and Tomato Medley)

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds new or red potatoes, unpeeled

1 pound fresh green beans

4 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks

½ cup chopped red onion

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup balsamic vinegar (optional)

Cut potatoes into bite-size chunks; place into a pot and fill with enough water to cover. Cover and cook over medium heat until just tender but firm when pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool off under cold running water. Drain well and place in a large serving bowl. (If you’re using vinegar, do not use an aluminum bowl.)

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Snip off ends of green beans. If beans are very long, snap in half. Add beans to boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and cool off under cold water; drain well.

Add green beans to potatoes. Add tomatoes, onion, and oil. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and mix well. Add vinegar, a little at a time, until it’s to your liking.

Gently toss, cover bowl, and chill for about 2 hours. Allow to come to room temperature and toss again before serving. Taste for seasoning. Add a little more oil if it’s too dry.

Keep leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

TIP: If the potatoes get a little mushy after cooking, lay them out on a baking sheet and place in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes to dry them out.

The thing about this recipe is how flexible it is. My friend used cherry tomatoes, cut in half. The seasonings (including a splash of balsamic vinegar) were added right before serving, so while it might not have had the intensity it would have after being in the fridge for two hours, it had a nice little zing. I look forward to making this next summer.

And while I love Italian food, I’m also looking forward to something different with Roberta Roberti’s new cookbook, World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors D’oeuvres and Party Plates. It’s coming out soon and I expect to be doing a lot of cooking.

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Buon Appetito!

 

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