Friday, December 31, 2010

Play Ball

Meatball pure and simple
Italian food, South Philadelphia style is my kind of soul food, as I grew up in and around Philly and its Western suburbs.  When I was a kid, dinners in a "down town" Italian restaurant meant only one thing and everyone knew it;  South Philadelphia.  Waitresses with big hair who called you "hon",  who had very little patience but a big sense of humor were the norm and you could always count on the bread and the meatballs.  The bread was always impeccably fresh, crusty, studded with sesame seeds and most likely from the bakery next door. The meatballs were over sized, tender, garlicky, and swimming in gravy (the South Philly term for red sauce).
Sundays in our house usually involved a huge pot of sauce with my mom's amazing South Philly style meatballs, sausage, and often falling off the bone pork which had been simmered for hours in the pot.  Part of what makes this pot of meat and sauce so delicious is that the meatballs are cooked entirely in the sauce which allows all of the flavors to blend together and become one.  None of the the meat jus is lost by pre browning the balls.
I managed to inherit my mother's technique for making these meatballs (thanks for the meatball nirvana, mom).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Free Form Fabulous (tart)

Swiss Chard, Shitake, Parmesan Galette

News flash:  I've never been one to follow the rules.  This does not mean that I can't, it simply means that I don't like imagine my delight in creating the Galette!  A free form tart is perfect for those who don't especially like to color within the lines.  There are no rules, yay! Round, square, oblong rectangular, you name it, now you're speaking my language.  The topping varieties are only limited by your imagination and desire (double happiness) and they are relatively quick to make, the pastry requires 1 hour of resting time in the fridge which can be done while you make the topping and allowing it to cool (or make your pastry earlier in the day or even have it at the ready in your freezer).  On this day, I found beautiful  Swiss Chard and Shitake mushrooms at the market.  Swiss Chard is a seriously underrated green, in my opinion (and I know Greens).  It is very mildly flavored which allows it to marry freely to whatever it is paired with.  I like the earthy flavors of the greens and mushrooms and they are the perfect vehicle for garlic and cheese.  Those of you who know me, will not be surprised that I also relied on the very classic Italian pairing of raisins and  pine nuts in a savory preparation.  So, Swiss Chard, garlic, Shitake, Parmesan Cheese (use the best quality Reggiano as it makes the difference and grate it by hand), raisins and pine nuts are all featured on a bed of farmers cheese.   I discovered farmers cheese recently at my market and I am loving the tangy, tart dryer texture of this Ricotta/cottage sort of cheese.  Wow, what a wonderful combination on my tart du jour.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm On A Roll

Rolled Stuffed Breast of Turkey

I have a secret.  I don't really like turkey.  I know, it's seriously unpatriotic and I apologize, but I can not tell a lie.  Give me stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, vegetables, Parker house rolls, but hold the turkey.  That was my old tune, but...
Thanksgiving this year would be different, I was determined.  I wanted to be super organized (truly different), and prepared (not so different).  I wanted to do as much as possible ahead of time, so that I could really enjoy the experience with 18 of my closest family members + friends (different).  The thought of roasting a huge bird for the entire day, only to end up with the same old, same old, seemed, well, old.
In with the new!  I think I may be a convert.  Moist, tender, juicy and delicious turkey IS possible and guess what? I liked it! I liked it that night, the next morning and several days later.  I'm certain that you will too.  Here's the deal:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cranberry Blahhhg

Cranberry Raspberry Conserves

I've never been the type of person to suffer from any holiday blues but this does not mean that I don't appreciate that others do.  So of course, my answer to holiday depression is....(wait for it) food!
Cranberries, ruby red on the plate with their combination of sweet, tart, bitter flavors combined with the various consistencies ranging from gelatinous (hello, my daughter's favorite canned variety which keeps it's shape for life, with the ridges still visible even after removed from the can and refrigerated for days!) to the smooth, silky conserve version (my fave)
I've been making this raspberry version of cranberry sauce for years, because I love raspberries.  I'd be telling a lie if I did not say that I am hesitant to even share how simple this recipe is, because I'm pretty sure people think it's a big deal to make. (Shhh)Get over your holiday blues with my Cranberry Blogg and recipe for bright and delicious conserves. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lusty Spanish Rice Sauté

I admit that sometimes I am not really interested in the ceremony of eating.  It's true, although I know it may come as a shock.  I love to cook and I believe that life is too short to eat food that isn't worthy.  I have been known to drive miles out of my way or suffer an extra 30 minutes of intense hunger, in search of something that tastes great.  So, when I am hungry but tired or short on time but hungry, I have a "go to" repertoire of really simple recipes that taste great and qualify as dinner if eaten by itself.  (mission accomplished).  This sauté of rice can be customized with any ingredients you have on hand or love.  I also like the fact that I can flavor this with some meat, but the meat is not the star of this show (good for two girls trying to be healthful).  I typically have onions, carrots and celery (great start to any sauté, in my opinion), as well as some canned artichoke hearts (which are perfectly acceptable for these purposes) and frozen peas.  Spicy Chorizo sausage, the real Spanish kind also often shacks up in my cheese drawer (perfect!).  I threw this together rather quickly tonight for Ella and I, as we both had work to do.  The combination of flavors (garlic, onion, artichoke, saffron and Pimentón de la Vera or Spanish Paprika) tasted so Spanish and so lusty.  I only wish I had thrown in a handful of frozen peas or some cilantro!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mexican Shrimp Tacos (Tacos De Camarón)

Shrimp Tacos (nirvana)

Recently, I had the good fortune to spend a week on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, in the area known as The Riviera Maya. This magnificent beach runs from Cancun South in the direction of Tulum.  
On the main drag, (the West side of highway 307 near Calle 8) I discovered La Floresta. After reading all of the stellar reviews, I was sold by the fact that this spot is a favorite of the taxi drivers...I was then on a mission to find the amazing shrimp taco place next to the tire store on the highway. Can you say Camarón Nirvana?  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Feel The Beet

I love roasted beets...the texture and earthy sweetness of this super food is the perfect vehicle for various oils, fruits, herbs, and cheese.  
Tangerine juice, zest and thyme mixed with the ruby colored oil of the roasted beets is to me, a sublime reminder of The Provençal countryside.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Welcome to my blog! I don't speak Spanish (other than some really bad quality kitchen Spanish), but I really like the way ¡Hola! rolls off the tongue. I plan on using this space to try and share my passion for all things food, drink + travel. Stay tuned for photos, recipes and random thoughts.