Monthly Archives: January 2011
[Pictured above: home-made cappuccino for my love with cocoa and our Neapolitan espresso maker; the rain on my car’s windshield, as I drive; a brown wintry leaf in the backyard] Tiny journeys in my kitchen (#2): coffee for you – January 20, 2011 You might recall that I just started a new series of blog… more
Snow and 2 recipes from the old days: chicken confit and candied kumquat financiers My city has been closed down by a snow storm. My entire street is covered in white. For the last four days, life has been nothing short of magic. Everything has seemed to take a slower, better pace. All the kids… more
[Pictured above: a simple lunch of sardines and spinach on toast, some of my cookbooks (many of which are stories), flowers (they are just fabric flowers, but they remind me of spring…) on my desk in the morning light, through the curtains.] Tiny journeys in my kitchen I have been cooking up the idea… more
Dear friends: Happy New Year! I have enjoyed my 2010 blogging adventures and getting to know many of you better in-person and through comments, tweets and emails, because of this tiny little blog of mine. Food has connected us and allowed us to communicate in ways I would not have dreamed of when I started… more
Happy New Year!
I have enjoyed my 2010 blogging adventures and getting to know many of you better in-person and through comments, tweets and emails, because of this tiny little blog of mine. Food has connected us and allowed us to communicate in ways I would not have dreamed of when I started just a bit over than a year ago, in the fall of 2009. Now I have food pals all over the world!
Here we are in 2011. I am so excited about what the year will hold for me food-wise. I have so many ideas of things to cook, ingredients to explore, recipes to try, posts to write, markets and restaurants to visit, books to read, people to meet, maybe more videos to record, and even a book concept in my mind’s back burner. I hope you continue to follow me through my adventures and culinary quests. And I wish you will let me know what you would like to see more on Z Tasty Life, since YOU are who I write for, yes: you, and you…and even you, my secret reader that rarely comments – you know who you are! Don’t be shy: I can even take a bit of constructive criticism (that’s how we grow!). Roll up your sleeves, put on an apron, pour a glass of wine and come in my kitchen!
To close the year, I have chosen a few posts that represent what I cooked in 2010. There is no rhyme or reason why I chose them: I just thought they flowed nicely from January to December. Enjoy!!!
1. On wild food foraging -> post here
Wild food foraging is something I did growing up Italy: fiddleheads and ramps in spring, purslane and nettle in the summer., mushrooms and walnuts in autumn. There is something extremely satisfying about gathering your own food from nature, the primitive way. In this post you will also see how I make pesto from my garden-grown basil.
2. A romantic dinner: seared scallops with grits, pots-de-crème, champagne -> post here
This was a tête
-à-tête I had with my husband. The menu:
Thomas Keller’s Caramelized Sea Scallops with creamy stone ground grits (with an explanation on how to clarify butter) and Chocolate-cardamom-vanilla pots de crème for dessert. Champagne for the drink
3. A quiet Easter with roasted lamb and colomba (an Italian traditional dessert) -> post here
Easter is one of Catholic’s biggest celebrations. It is the resurrection of Jesus and the re-birth of life. It is naturally one of my favorite traditional meals.
Here is our Easter lunch menu: Roasted lemon-rosemary leg of lamb over onions, and wild mushrooms served with Mint-macadamia dipping sauce – Blanched asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper – Colomba pasquale (Easter dove) mini-cakes – Strawberries marinated in sugar, lemon juice and orange juice. Côtes du Rhône wine for me and my husband - “Arnold Palmer” (half lemonade, half ice tea) for the kids.
4. Picking strawberries and rustic galettes with cornmeal crust -> post here
One of my favorite activities during spring or fall is to go to the countryside with my children and pick Nature’s bounty right from the ground (or the trees). In May it is all about the fragrant strawberries…nothing like the floral and fruity scent and taste of a strawberry on it’s pod, at its ripest. This year we made rustic tartlettes from our harvest.
5. A farmers lunch: fava beans, ramps, mint, pecorino, and a glass of white wine -> post here
There is something extremely humbling in eating a simple, farmer meal, focused on one really good vegetable that is in season. This time I ate a salad from what I got at the farmers market: fresh fava beans, a touch of ramps, mint, and pecorino, drizzled with olive oil. Great with a glass of white wine. If you like this simple lunch, you might also like this other post: green garlic biscuits with butter, salt and radish, side of wilted turnip greens.
6. A summer soiree ending with semifreddo mocha mousse -> post here
Summer is the time to entertain al fresco, outside, en plain air. It’s a time where I enjoy gathering old friends for long dinners on our patio, where I turn on many many candles for atmosphere. This time I had just returned from Geneva, where I was for work, and had brought back some dark chocolate (which I turned into dessert) and ripe cheeses (which I served for appetizer with a selection of wine jellies). My husband Todd slow roasted and smoked a pork shoulder. Then I made French Crêpes filled with ricotta and spinach.
We ended the meal with my mother’s mocha semifreddo mousse, which is ahhh so refreshing and definitively has a kick, with chocolate, coffee, and rum. My home lemoncello was passed around for extra conviviality, apres diner
7. A fall dinner full of harvest treasures -> post here
This fall dinner was a lovely way to celebrate friends and the wonderful harvest ingredients. The menu: Butternut squash squares with maple syrup, sage and sea salt; Parmesan cheese and quince-jam bites; Potato and wild mushroom napoleons with vegetable-butter sauce and a drop of truffle oil; Stuffed quail with pomegranate molasses, orange and port; Slow-roasted golden beets, pears and carrots; Roasted cipolline onions with balsamic vinegar; Individual quince and apple tarte-Tatins served with a shot of muscadine juice; Candied apples rolled in chopped roasted peanuts (for the children).
As for the drinks, we started with Muscadine and vanilla martini and throughout the dinner we drank Médoc wine.
8. A magic carpet dinner with Moroccan bisteeya -> post here
Food is like a magic carpet: it can take you to exotic destinations. It can open your mind to unexpected flavors, new worlds, different cultures, peoples and traditions. On this “ride” I explored Morocco and prepared the following menu to be enjoyed on a carpet, at night, under the moon and stars: bisteeya (filo-layered sweet, savory, spiced chicken pie), olives with spicy Harissa and preserved lemon peel, spicy cumin-scented eggplant and tomato dish served with pita, and to end, a rice pudding flavored with orange blossom water and sprinkled with pistachios, then deliciously ripe figs. Green tea with mint was the beverage for the adults, while the children sipped on honey-sweetened orange-blossom-flavored almond milk dusted with cinnamon.
9. Home- made pasta: agnolotti di zucca (pumpkin ravioli) -> post here
Being Italian, one of the biggest memory triggers for me is making home made pasta…of course. It is very rewarding and the dough melts in your mouth. During fall I love to incorporate seasonal ingredients like pumpkin, or mushrooms, or beets in my filled ravioli. This version has pumpkin, amaretti, Parmesan, balsamic vinegar, and sage.The velvety and transparent dough is made all with yolks.
10. A elegant holiday dessert: Mont Blanc with home made marron glacés-> post here
I ended the year with a preparation that took me 5 days: marron glacés (candied chestnuts) which I used to make an elegant holiday dessert: Mont Blanc. It starts with a layer cracked meringues, then marrons glacés cream, then crème Chantilly (sweetened whipped cream), and is finally topped with a few pieces of marrons glacés and drizzled with marrons glacés syrup.