Truffles, White Alba

Submitted by John on Thu, 11/25/2021 - 16:00

"White Italian Truffles"White truffles, Tuber magnatum, are even more expensive than black truffles, and they are used differently. They are seen more in northern Italian cuisine than anywhere else. The two you see here, one ounce each, cost $590 in November 2021!

Cauliflower Pizzaiola

Submitted by John on Wed, 11/17/2021 - 23:48

"Cauliflower Pizzaiola"This is a simple, tasty dish that you can make whenever there are cauliflowers in the supermarket. The main flavors are cauliflower, tomato, and oregano. It's good enough as a standalone vegetarian dish or as an accompaniment to anything with an Italian flair.

Italy All-Star Feast: The Middle

Submitted by John on Thu, 09/30/2021 - 21:02

The antipasto platterOn September 5, '21, we celebrated the cuisine of central Italy with our friends Lance and Lynda Hylander. For this project, I defined "Central Italy" as those regions north of Campania and south of Emilia-Romagna and the Po River valley, to wit: Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abbruzzo, Molise, and Lazio (where Rome is).

Boye Sparkle Cocktail

Submitted by John on Mon, 06/21/2021 - 11:14

Boye Sparkle CocktailLorna discovered this one at the Mo Bay Grill, a Jamaican restaurant in Sebastian Florida. I can find very little history about it. It's along the lines of a Bellini, fruity with sparkle, but it's pretty, refreshing, and not too alcoholic.

The restaurant menu description says strawberry juice but the online recipes say strawberry liqueur. Lorna's seemed to have strawberry juice, and I think that worked just fine. I've never seen a strawberry liqueur worth drinking.

Onions in the Neapolitan Style

Submitted by John on Sun, 05/16/2021 - 14:07

Cipolle di NapoliThese clove-studded Cipolle di Napoli made a great side dish for the [[nodetitle:Arista Fiorentina]]. I expect they'd be good with any pork or poultry dish that's not too highly seasoned.

A funny thing happened: as the onions cooked and the water inside them expanded, the innermost part of the onions got squeezed out! You can see them in the photo, above the front left-hand onion like bunny ears and to the right of the front onion like a jaunty beret! The next time I make this, I will try cutting an X in the top of each onion to see if that helps.

Zucchini alla Scapece Napoletana

Submitted by John on Sat, 05/15/2021 - 19:09

Zucchini alla SapeceThis is a tasty summertime dish for hot weather. The scapece part of the name derives from the Spanish escaveiche and ceviche (raw fish marinated in vinegar) but the Neapolitans use it to describe many things dressed with vinegar.

This takes a long time, but it's not a time-consuming dish. You need to allow time for the cut zucchini to dry in the sun, and afterward more time for the vinegar to settle in and mellow. Drying the zucchini helps it to cook up crunchy rather than mushy, so it stands up better to the vinegar.

Note that this recipe is not an agrodolce; there is no sugar. 


Submitted by John on Sat, 05/15/2021 - 18:38

Alpine Mushroom SoupHere's a delicious mushroom soup with Italian sensibilities applied to an Austrian ancestor, from Trentino-Alto Adige in the Italian Alps on the Austrian border.

Mushrooms are an important part of Alpine cooking and northern Italian cuisine in general. Note that this includes an opening saute in butter instead of olive oil seen further south.

This soup represented that alpine region in our Northern Italy all-star feast.

Beadlestone Cocktail

Submitted by John on Thu, 05/13/2021 - 23:32
Beadlestone Cocktail

I'm not excited by this one. I wonder how something so simple got such a long name?

Well, Melanie Belshee did the research at her very good Alcohol Infusions blog and it seems to be named for a fellow with a deep connection to the bar where it was developed. 

The best I can say about this is that it's a fairly light summer refresher. I made it with an ordinary Highland Scotch and Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth; a more robust Scotch or a less assertive vermouth might have had better results. 



Italy All-Star Feast: The North

Submitted by John on Sun, 05/09/2021 - 13:04
Northern Italy Antipasto

I described in Italy All-Star Feast: The South how a blog about New England food and drink came to focus temporarily on Italian traditional cuisine, wrapping it up with a trio of all-star feasts exploring the 20 provinces of that ancient foodie culture. This was a tricky one, as I had to squeeze in eight provinces, each with long and distinct culinary traditions!

A Bellini and an Aperol Spritz

For the Northern Italy feast, I included the big provinces of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna, plus the smaller Alpine border provinces of Val d'Aosta (on the French/Swiss border), Trentino-Alto Adige (Austria), Friuli -Venezia-Giulia (Slovenia), and little coastal Liguria, home of Genoa. Our companions were our old friends David and Diane Peck. Here's how we did it:

Italy All-Star Feast: The South

Submitted by John on Sat, 04/24/2021 - 18:24
Southern Italy Antipasto

For about a year, from late March 2020 through April 2021, when our New England travels were limited by Covid-19, I focused on the traditional cooking of Italy. After Lorna and I were vaccinated, we celebrated with a series of 10-course Italian all-star feasts highlighting recipes from Northern, Central, and Southern Italy. I wanted to have something from each of Italy's 20 provinces.

For the Southern Italy feast, I included Campania (Naples), Basilicata, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia. Our companions were our old foodie friends John Morse and Christina Cochrane. Here's how we did it:


Aperitivo: Limoncello brought back from Campania by John M's son. 

Antipasto: On the platter there's some of the usual fare, plus Luchanico sausage from Basilicata, oil-cured black olives from Sicily, and 'nduja spicy sausage paste from Calabria in the glass sherbet dish. In the bowl are Cruschi, dried red pepper chips from Apulia (I had to order these online). The other sherbet dish next to the crackers has a veggie caponata from Sicily.

Then we moved into the dining room and opened a bottle of chilled Greco di Tufo white wine from Campania. 

Chestnuts Braised with Thyme

Submitted by John on Sun, 04/04/2021 - 15:31

Chestnuts braised with thymeThis is a delicious cool-weather dish to accompany a rich meat dish, or just on its own. It's a classic accompaniment to roast goose, and it's fine with roast turkey, too, especially for a holiday table!

You can get perfectly good chestnuts in a jar, so there is no need to go through the tedious and finger-tearing process of peeling whole chestnuts. 

Tipperary Cocktail

Submitted by John on Sun, 03/21/2021 - 21:11
Tipperary Cocktail

Here's a flavorful treat for St Patrick's Day or any other day that you're feeling Irish!

In WWI, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" was a popular song among Irish soldiers on the front lines far from home. The story is that a man walked into a bar one night, humming that tune. The patrons suggested that the bartender invent a cocktail to honor the tune and the men who sang it so long ago. 

What he came up with is definitely a mix of Irish Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, and Green Chartreuse with bitters, but recipes vary. Chartreuse has a very strong, sweet flavor, and it can easily overpower the other components. The Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide has it as equal parts like a Negroni, but other sources vary the proportions. I have tried it the Mr. Boston way, and more like a Boulevardier with two parts Irish to one each of the others, but the one I like best is recorded here. This one is more like a Manhattan Cocktail, with the Chartreuse much diminished but still very present.