Seems as if I’m hanging onto the pages of the calendar as they flip by so fast that I can’t catch my breath.
My son Curtis and his beautiful girlfriend Lauren have come and gone, leaving me with lots of fresh pasta in the freezer, some laundry and good memories. They are becoming quite talented cooks, learning how to balance flavors and improving on their cooking techniques. Send me more photos of the Philly ‘orto’, ok? They are growing some fine tomatoes, right in the heart of Philadelphia, now that’s a beautiful thing.
For Jeff’s birthday lunch, Lauren produced some extra crispy zucchini chips. We weren’t sure that we could get crunch from zucchini, but you can and it’s worth it!
I had one of those ‘duh’ moments the other day as I was making lunch. Italian cuisine relies a lot on fresh ingredients and simple preparations that highlight those clean flavors. And you want to know why? Because everyone comes home for lunch, and there just isn’t enough time in the day to do two full-on meal preparations! Ordering out for Chinese is not an option, no matter how bone tired you are. So the mama’s had no choice but to invent tasty, quick meals. Duh. It has nothing to do with those convoluted theories about Mediterranean life style, and it has everything to do with people heading home for meals twice a day.
Italians like their foods on separate plates, nothing touches, they probably invented those TV dinner trays; but they do have a dining classification known as “piatto unico”, or one plate. I’m becoming the piatto unico queen just because I’m having so little time to prepare a meal, and we are too tired to clean up afterwards. Necessity being the mother of invention, and take out Indian being just a memory, I’ve had no choice but to get creative. Last night’s dinner featured some of those sweet, red Sicilian peppers that I am completely in love with. I simply sautéed a piece of pork, removed it from the pan, added the peppers and some garlic, then deglazed with a little white wine vinegar, plated it on top of a bed of arugula and gave everything a dash of chili oil. On the same plate, I served some boiled potatoes that were tossed a little raw garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and mustard. One plate covered all the categories and satisfied us. Which after spending the afternoon shoveling about 200 kilos of gravel around is saying something!
Boiled potatoes are such an overlooked and under valued ingredient. They sound so….1950’s, so stodgy, but they are such an excellent foil for so many flavor combinations. Make any simple herb combination and toss them over the potatoes: basil/garlic, parsley/capers, rosemary and balsamic vinegar. When you don’t want to turn on the oven, this is a quick and tasty alternative.
By the way, did you get the feeling that I am just yearning for some Viet Namese take-out???