also very delicious recipe for salmon: three ingredients, count em, three ingredients: salmon, sorrel and shallots. no terror, no poodles and no salt caramels involved though for your full experience on the island of Ouessant, you'll need all of them.
I'm now back--i do notice that my last post was during may and its now the end of july-- from naples, new york, california, new york, paris and a week with the flu, swine variety.
there is a huge spider on my computer screen, the slugs have invaded my garden and worse than that, at night they hang out in my kitchen (!), our drunken houseguest has just checked into detox, and i've 1. gotten a fabulous assignment to write about a fabulous chef for a fabulous magazine but 2. alas, i've lost him somewhere in japan and as i can't locate him to interview, don't know if i can make deadline.
i think i need a coffee.
what the slugs need however is a cocktail party. bowls of beer submerged near my wonderous patch of arugula, my lustrous leafy green zucchini (with their golden flowers), my trails of orange and yellow flowered nasturtiums, my huge tufts of chives, bushes of thyme and rosemary.
beer, you beasts, enjoy your cocktail party cause i want my garden back!
a side note to dealing with slugs and snails this way: if anyone has a problem with drinking beer, just invite them over to look at the after-effects of the beer on the slugs. aversion guaranteed!
soooooo i'm packing my bags: one to campania, the buffalo and the festival of the sea, officially: the jewels of the sea, islands of wonder.....then to the catskills for daughters party: shlepping dried porcini, parmigiana cheese, and porcini stock cubes for the wild mushroom lasagne which will be divine, the porcini ooomphing up the fresh mushrooms that i have no doubt are growing underground right this second, somewhere near new york city! I think i can hear them if i am very quiet...
my suitcase for new york over there, valise for italy over here....running running between the two, getting a little frightened that i'll pack the wrong clothes for the wrong place: festival mink stole for the catskills (not) or funky tunics and leggings for the jewels of the sea. i think i'll put a toothbrush in both suitcases, so that i at least have something not to worry about.
.... in the midst of paoking, hubby comes home from shops with two MASSIVE sacks filled with mushrooms. open cap sort of portobello-ish mushrooms which are just considered ordinary big mushrooms here in uk. he'll never cook them; they'll languish in the kitchen rotting until my return. i can't have that--won't allow myself to leave if i know they will be wasted. i'm a little compulsive that way.
My mushrooms needed to cook. being mature they weren't getting any better, minute by minute. i sauteed them all, sliced, in a large pan with a small amount of olive oil and half a chopped onion. At some point i added a couple of chopped garlic cloves.
When it gave off a surprisingly large amount of liquid i tossed in a handful of dried dried polish mushrooms, broken into tiny pieces. if you have a chance to go to poland, its worth it for many reasons not least of which is dried mushroom shopping. you can, of course, use dried porcini.
the bits of dried mushroom will help absorb some of the excess liquid. Season it with a porcini stock cube. oh i know, stock cubes, or bouillon cubes as they are known in usa are salty, and many say, identifiable in flavour. i find that the italians don't have a problem with this, and toss a little bit of stock cube into a sauce or soup, just to help it along. porcini stock cubes are fabulous this way; crumble one into anything mushroomy and your ordinary mushrooms are transformed.
The mushrooms are gorgeous.no cream, no butter, no nuthin else. we ate some with leftover chicken, browned to warm in a nonstick pan, showered with snipped fresh chives from the garden; tonight we'll have pasta with lashings of the mushroomy sauce and freshly grated parmigiana. tomorrow: crack of dawn flight. easy jet. a bring your own breakfast flight. mine is a panini of goats cheese with mushrooms.
and then....then i'll be ready for mozzarella! i'm told that the buffalo already know that i'm coming.....
okay, didn't find my classic recipe--who uses it anyhow: here's how it goes: garlic, basil (a lot), pine nuts or walnuts, salt, and enough evoo to make it all shiny and smooth. parmigiana or pecorino as you like.
I couldn't find my link to article about pesto, but found my own draft; here it is:
Mortar and pestle in my bag, I trotted up to BBC Broadcasting House. In the bag too masses of sweet fragrant basil, handfuls of pinenuts and Parmigiana. I was making traditional Ligurian pesto, with Sheila Dillon of BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme. I had already taped interviews and my visit throughout the villages, farms and marketplaces around Genoa. I would make the pesto in studio, using the traditional utensil of mortar and pestle. (which every ligurian family displays proudly, though will admit that they are whirling their pesto in their blenders and food processors).
I pounded garlic, nuts, worked in the fragrant green leaves, then the Ligurian olive oil in a steady stream (pesto NEEDS Ligurian olive oil; other olive oils will be delicious, but only Ligurian oil will will taste like Genoa, Liguria.......in other words, like pesto.).
Sheila and I chatted while I pounded and stirred, then we sat down and on-air, forked up the green green sauce with a bowl of pasta. We segued into a tape of me visiting Liguria, the basil fields, the pesto kitchens, the summertime market of Santa Margharita and Portofino. listening to Ligurians argue every so entertainingly about the best way to make pesto: "With garlic! Without garlic! with Parmesan! with Pecorino! with pinenuts, with walnuts" there was no end to it. The control room smelled like Genoa on a Sunday afternoon.
The following Sunday, there I was, coffee mug in hand, under the duvet. As usual when I'm on the radio I wait to be discovered.
You know how it is--I think to myself: maybe this will be the time I get that call... the big time.... someone out there listening will recognize my talent and discover me!
My inner "star" cries out: "Yes, someone, give me my own show or at least my own spot on the big time!". This time I felt no different.
However...........the next day I DID get contacted, I DID get discovered. Sort of.
"What a voice!" the email exclaimed. "You're just what we've been looking for!" I basked in the praise, waiting for what would come next. My big break: would it be Radio? Television?
The email continued..........not a radio show, exactly, nor television........ What I was dicovered for was........ahem, how can i say this: a website. A live call-in porn website. just let her know if and when i should decide to join "the girls".
oh, I toyed with the stage name of Sweet Bah-sil Galore. The website lady said I could earn a fortune; who knows, she continued, maybe there are guys out there with food fetishes, even basil and pesto fetishes. But though I am quite pleased to be discovered and fussed over and praised, and the truth is, well, okay, while its not television or radio, a Fan is a Fan.............
And while I do love to think of myself as being discovered..........( "What a voice!" I comfort myself with privately). But as tempting as it may be, I think I'll stay in the kitchen.... ..........though some have pointed out that there's a phone in the kitchen, too.
here is not the classic basil recipe but one using cilantro, served with a spicy tomato-chile pasta. its so soothingly invigoratingly happy-making that when i eat it, i can console myself over my near miss with fame. after all, as long as i--and everyone i love--has that recipe, i'm happy.
Pasta Arrabiatta with Californian Cilantro Pesto (adapted from Hot and Spicy, Tarcher books, out of print) Serves 4 I'm offering a recipe for cilantro pesto here, a New World fusion that no self respecting Ligurian would recognize, but it is utterly delicious and I"ve run classic pestos many times in various articles, etc. Though I'm serving it with a spicy tomato sauce (arrabiatta means enraged, enraged from chilli peppers) you could serve it spooned into a spicy sopa de tortilla, or layered with sliced cheese into a grilled cheese sandwich. 1 lb penne 5-7 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes, or to taste 1 cup tomato passata Salt to taste Freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino, asiago,dry Jack, etc, cheese, as desired
Bring a large pot of water to the boil then add about a tablespoon of salt. In a heavy frying pan heat the garlic in the olive oil and add the hot pepper flakes; stir and cook a moment or two, taking care not to inhale the chilli fumes as they can make you cough frighteningly. Add the tomato passata and cook together over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes . You want the sauce to reduce by about half. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is al dente. Drain well, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water for the final saucing. Toss the drained pasta with the sauce, add ing a few tablespoons of the cooking water as you toss it together in the pan over a medium heat for a few moments. Serve right away, with a dab of cilantro pesto and a scattering of freshly grated cheese.
Cilantro Pesto: 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 bunch cilantro, about 1 1/2 cups 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2-3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan or other delicious grating cheese (dry Jack, asiago, etc) Optional: a pinch of chilli powder, a tiny squirt of lime juice Puree the garlic in a food processor and add the cilantro. When it is completely chopped add the olive oil then the cheese. Taste for seasoning (ie salt, chilli powder, lime juice). Keep covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator.
11 am: time for a break. more coffee of course. also pesto, from a spoon, directly from the bowl. i know, i know, most people have a pastry or even a donut with a cup of coffee, but how can i have anything else when i've got freshly made pesto?
i'm a slut for pesto. lust after it. love it to bits. will do anything for it. couldn't live without it.
i fell in love with it at first bite; then quickly planned my college-fling across europe based not on museums, history, sightseeing; no, i went directly to genoa. for the pesto. i've never looked back.
for a history of my passion for pesto and a nice little minestrone al pesto recipe, check out:
will trawl for my actual pasto recipe though i do confess that a good bottled or jarred pesto is not bad at all, worth the effort of spooning and swooning...... anyhow, i do have my recipe in one of my columns so will post......
...note: the good citizens of pesto-land (ie liguria) debate constantly about what should be included in pesto, their iconic dish, and some feel that there is no place in that sauce for garlic (!) rest assured that my pesto is garlicky. as garlicky as i am!
9 am: fabulous coffee: dark, aromatic, bone-shatteringly strong. and blissful (buttery, rich, crisped up in the oven) croissants directly from france. the english channel or la manche as the french call it, is only 4 kilomenters from our home and sometimes the farmers, bakers, cheese-and-salami makers take the ferry and set up market stalls. occasionally i even get a glimpse of a legendary "onion johnnie", that is, a french onion-grower on this bicycle, draped with strings of onions, selling directly from his bike. Today: no onion johnnies, only fab croissants.
list of things to do: x organize food for my daughter's party in new yorks catskills in two weeks time.
x finish column for san francisco chronicle (all about fantastic trip to poland, eating, drinking, and dancing, then eating some more; recipes include chic little pickley borsht and summer squash in sour cream with pickles and dill. i decided to focus on pickles; it is, for anyone interested, international pickle week, though truthfully i ALWAYS focus on pickles, i love them so!)
x swim my daily hour--i'm headed to napoli, campania, home of the buffalo and their beautiful mozzarella. i gotta be swimming for dear life, cause i'll be eating that gorgeous juicy-milky cheese within minutes of the plane landing.
x deal with shoes: do we think that red nineties pumps will go with a kind of retro fifties shimmery green sheath and my mother's old mink stole for a film festival on the isle of capri? what i really mean is, do you think i can get away with this slightly eccentric colour/style for our islands of the bay of naples film festival.
the fabulous stanley tucci--huge crush!-- will be our guest and i'l like to not look like my whole outfit cost me 21.99 (which it did--thank you Ross Dress for Less).
for more info about these islands of wonder and our cinema-inspired menus, visit www.isoledinapoli.com (i'm hoping to feast on the timballo at les barrique on the isle of ischia, the timballo filled with "everything good", inspired by Stanely Tucci's BIG NIGHT!)
I'm a food writer, columnist, and broadcaster, author of well over fifty books...I eat garlic and onions for breakfast and feel happiest when i'm on a mediterranean island, pickling lemons and squeezing them over everything....I love my doggy and am terrified of bees.....i sing to both my doggy and my kitty (they are the only ones who don't ask me to stop)....
i'm bi-continental, flitting between my uk home, continental europe, new york and california. i make up for greenhouse gas by not driving and living an otherwise very green lifestyle. i haven't wasted anything since....oh maybe 1985. nada!