To Market

23 07 2008

Grazia is in the kitchen again.  Today it’s hot and muggy and the flame on the stove is gone.  Today dinner will be cold.


She and I go to the morning market before the heat begins to rise.  Piazza di Campo de' FioriCampo di Fiori is crowded with tourists and Romans, alike.  The vegetable stands overflow with summer produce.Campo di Fiori


Verdant basil, tiny ruby tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes. So lovely. Maybe this will get your kids to eat salad?sweet onions, baby green beans: the meal will be simple and sumptuous, the aim of most Italian cuisine. A loaf of fine country bread Italian Bread 12/27/06and a large jar of olive oil soaked Mediterranean tuna.


Did I mention I love tomatoes?  I pull the sweet cherry variety off the bushy plants that sit in clay pots around our terrazzo…just the low fruit.  I’m allowed that without being chided.  But the tomatoes on the terrazzo are still green so, today, we buy Campo di Fiori fare. 


Here is what Grazia does with her market bounty:


Toss together the tomatoes, a handful of torn basil, thinly sliced onions and blanched, chilled green beans.  Add the drained tuna.  Toss again. 


While Grazia brushes slices of fresh bread with olive oil, grills them on one side, then rubs them with a clove of garlic, I search the floor below the tossing for bits of anything that might have escaped the bowl….


The salad is chilled until dinner time.  The toasts are put to one side in each bowl.


Balsamic vinegarModena > Sealed Bottles of Balsamic Vinegar and freshly grated parmesan is added over each serving at the last minute.  And the empty bowls are mine….










2 05 2008

Want inspiration?  Think of the meatball. 

 Spaghetti & Meatballs

Object of poems, songs and humor for years, just say the word and thoughts of Italy are invoked.

Ravello - Country - ItalyCampo di Miracoli (field of Miracles), Pisa, Tuscany, ItalyVenice, Italy

 Yet, meatballs were invented by Americans.American bald eagle

Who else would squeeze meat into the shape of an burly sphere and pair it with long strips of delicate pasta.  I am not against the occasional croquette, mind you, just the hapless pairing of foods.

Italy is nothing if not nuance.  Right down to it’s food.  Every pasta has a raison d’etre, so to speak.  And each is lovingly and carefully paired.The Pasta Loves MeEvery one is shaped to receive and compliment the sauce: Thin spaghetti is best for any sauce made up of oilSpaghetti Aglio e Olio with Arugula…the thicker the pasta, the richer the sauce it can take. 

Meat sauces should be reserved for heartier pastas like rigatoni or conchiglie, whose little shell shapes trap the sauce in bite-size morsels of heaven. Conchiglie

Cream sauces do well with farfalleFarfalle with Italian Chicken Sausage, Peas and Cremini Mushrooms and fusilli, Fusilliwhose broader surface areas provide perfect the perfect canvas.

Grazia is in the kitchen now whipping up tonight’s dinner, Fettuccine Grazia…who could go wrong?

For the Contessa and the Count, with a little left for the dog dish…:

1/3 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon, salt (truffle salt if you’re feeling frisky), 1/2 lb Fettuccine (Italian made, of course), 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of nutmeg. 

In a deep pan, simmer 1/4 cup of the cream and butter together for just a minute until thickened a little.  Boil 3 quarts of water with a handful of salt.  DSC03397Cook fettuccine until al dente, drain and add to the pan with the cream mixture.

Heat over low flame and toss to coat the pasta well.  Add the rest of the cream, the cheese, pepper and nutmeg and serve!Fettucine Alfredo w/fresh ground nutmeg

Dog Dish My bowl first.



The Daily Dog

27 02 2008

First of all, there will be no daily entries.  I know this is The Daily Dog.  I am a the dog who named it so, purely as self-inspiration:  putting the pressure on, so to speak, in an effort to share my observations in a timely fashion.  But, I am still a dog. 

Mona Lisa with her dog

There are certain highly observable things we, as dogs, do daily.  None of them involve writing.

Translating pure thought to the keyboard takes time.  First, I have to be clear of mind in knowing what I want to say.  This is an inherent problem directly linked to the canine penchant toward distraction. 

Dog and squirrel staring contest.A squirrel here, a squirrel there—you know the rest. One dog track and squirrel tracks

Then, it takes a great expenditure of effort to turn thought to word to blog; a free computer; a few naps; a bit of exercise to patrol one’s territory, a couple of square meals and a treat. 

So bear with me…I’m always thinking.Mindy, our dog, who ate anything...


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