Fig and pine nut biscotti: A Veneto-inspired recipe

I brought home a bushel of citrus from the farmers market a few weeks back with no particular plan, except perhaps to ward off the grey of  long winter days. Along with bergamot, tangerines and the first blood oranges, Sicilian lemons served to brighten up the kitchen. Continue reading

The colors of winter

Every year, just around mid-November I promise myself not to hibernate through the ever-darkening days of winter. December passes by in an intimate family circle of festivities and holiday decorations get packed away for another year in a slow-motion ritual.

Despite all efforts to the contrary, the quiet comforts of home define the month of January. Regrettably (or so it may seem), the cold season settles in for a begrudgingly accepted stay.

Cooking soups and making stews with sturdy greens and roots are the practical results of the dark days of this season. Reading books pass the time during long evenings indoors, but gathering my thoughts truly tell my story of winter.

With pen and paper in hand, at this time of year I slow down to write. Although most of my published writing is in fact a series of seasonal recipes,  my personal journals outline my reasons for being. Writing in quiet solitude makes sense to the puzzle of daily life in other words.

In the coming year I will be creating anew, first and foremost in my blog.  During the last months, I have actually been working on the introduction of three new forms of expression to expand upon my recipe writing.  Just like the notebooks stacked on my desk, each addition will be shaped into a chapter to form a broader creative diary.

Firstly, I will make place for visual inspiration and photos of my surroundings, not directly related to cooking a specific dish. This chapter will be a photo journal as it were.

Secondly, I will add a means for the unknowing reader to explore and utilize the recipes I publish, without having to read a diary of food memories first! This chapter will be much like a library.

Lastly, I will design a space for stories, simply because there are so many interesting people and places in the world. Sometimes a narrative will be historical or even factual in nature. Primarily, this chapter will document the noteworthy I happen to be lucky to discover. Imagine it as a thesaurus of significant things if you will.

My ambition is expansive. It’s going to take some time. In the meanwhile I will keep writing here, in the journal I started so many years ago.

On a weekly basis my journey about the essential and the ordinary in life and cooking can be tracked on my Instagram account.

Baked pumpkin and chanterelle risotto

Saturday is definitely my favorite day of the week because it is full of promise. Rarely is Saturday defined by schedules or obligations. Rather it is the perfect example of limitless possibility. After a luxuriously silent and relatively early morning coffee, I start my day with a trip to the farmers market. My task of the morning is to soak up the sights, ultimately deciding which ingredients will take part in of the weekend ritual of cooking.

Although I have often promised myself to make lists and menu plans for the work week, my mind simply refuses this kind of obligation. By mid afternoon, I make my way home with linen bags filled with ingredients and thoughts swimming with opportunity. Continue reading

Yellow summer zucchini and purple basil salad

September is all about bright colors and abundance. It’s also about sun-ripened vine tomatoes and the delicate, intensely yellow zucchini. While the days of Indian summer are still ahead, I am doing just two simple things: cooking on the stove as little as possible and stuffing my kitchen with bunches of herbs and tomatoes for as long as it lasts.

The following recipe paints a picture like a suggestion. In fact, there are no steadfast rules to this salad.  Follow the recipe below if you will; but see it above all else as a leisurely collection of simply beautiful ingredients paired on a plate. To my mind this is the perfect kind of recipe. Continue reading

Chili and citrus marinated olives

My adoration of olives was born in my teenage years, when visits to the food markets of Naples were heavily encouraged by my mother’s pleas to help her with the daily grocery shopping. Little did I know,  as I strolled unwillingly past vibrant market stalls overflowing with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, that all the colors and sounds of Italy were making a profound impression on my senses. Continue reading

Cherry paradise clafoutis

It wasn’t until a few summers ago that I ever considered the possibility of adding fresh cherries to anything other than my fruit bowl. While researching how to teach simple desserts with fresh orchard fruits, I stumbled upon the French clafoutis. Stubbornly, I set out to change the recipe, partly because there are so many variations on this theme and partly because I always want to push the confines of accepted standards.

My kitchen experiments of this classic beauty were acceptable but somehow not impressive.

Continue reading

Raw tomato summer pasta “al sugo crudo”

I cannot remember which of my Italian friends taught me to make a “sugo crudo al pomodoro” but it was most certainly on a warm summer’s day.  It’s magic is in the mixture of freshly sliced tomatoes shimmering in a small pool of olive oil, perfumed by leaves of fresh basil. Given a moment to marinate, these ingredients marry as it were — the tomatoes taking on the flavor of basil and the basil melting into the juices of the fresh tomatoes.  Continue reading