Sunday, July 31, 2005

caprese salad with prosciutto Posted by Picasa


Caprese Salad (tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil)

Buon giorno, amici!

Sta bene? Bene. Allora.

Here's another recipe for a summer meal (lunch or a light supper). It is beautiful to behold, healthy and simple to make.

"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection." --Curnonsky

One caveat: You must not use anything but the freshest and best ingredients for this salad, otherwise it will be a complete failure. If you do not have access to the freshest and best ingredients, then do not attempt this at home. Make something else. But if you can acquire the necessary elements for this caprese salad you will be amply rewarded for your adherence to purity and perfection.

Caprese salad: serves 2

slice two tomatoes approx. 1/4 inch thick (number of slices depends on the size of tomatoes--four large slices are usually sufficient).

Four slices of the freshest mozzarella cheese.

Several whole basil leaves, preferably from one's own garden.

The finest extra-virgin olive oil one can afford.

Place the sliced tomatoes on a white platter, place the slices of mozzarella cheese over the tomatoes, place a basil leaf on each. Sprinkle with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Eccola! A magnificent dish.

You have noticed that there is something else on the plate that I made, and that something else is prosciutto cudo, heavenly pink ribbons of Italian cured ham.

I added this to make a complete meal, but it is not necessary to make the classic caprese salad.

Serve this with a Pinot Grigio and some crusty bread, if you wish, and you have entered into the realm of the gods.

Buon appetito a tutti!

Friday, July 29, 2005

crespelle stuffed with peas, shitake mushrooms, and ricotta cheese Posted by Picasa

crespelle stuffed with radicchio, scallions and toasted walnuts Posted by Picasa


Crespelle (crepes)

Like most of the country, we in Boston have been suffering through horribly hot and humid days. Thankfully, we are now experiencing some cooler, drier weather, but those oppressive days will return, I'm sure, and reduce us to withering, wilting creatures again.

Withering Hots?

Isabella could do little but sit and hope that the weather, which left her in a continual state of inelegance, would improve so that she could resume her culinary efforts.

Here is a recipe that is easy and just the thing to whip up when the kitchen is too warm to cook anything else.

Crespelle are the Italian version of crepes and are especially popular in the Abruzzi region, where they are served in broth or baked. They also figure prominently on the menus of elegant restaurants throughout the peninsula, generally as first-course dishes.

The basic recipe for the crespelle follows. I used my imagination and filled the crespelle with what I had on hand (these are vegetarian), but one can add almost anything, fish, meats, fruit.

This recipe serves two. Enjoy the crespelle with a crisp green salad and a chilled white wine of your choice, a Soave Classico or a Pinot Grigio.


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add the milk, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Let the mixture stand at least 20 minutes before making the crespelle.

Heat a lightly oiled (I used PAM) 8" skillet or crepe pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop a ladle full of batter into the pan (approximately 1/4 cup, not too much or the crespelle will be too thick) spread the batter evenly by tilting the pan.

Cook the crespelle about 2 minutes, until you can easily lift the edges with a spatular. Lift the crespelle and flip it over and cook for a minute or less on the other side.

Now you can fill the crespelle with whatever your imaginative mind can think of. But please, make it fresh, nothing canned. Beh!

I filled one batch of crespelle with sauted radicchio , scallions, and toasted walnuts and the other, with a combination of sauted red onions, shitake mushrooms, fresh peas and ricotta cheese.

I placed the crespelle in a baking dish, dotted them with butter and baked for 10 minutes. When I took them out, I sprinkled them with fresh grated Parmigiano cheese and garnished them with fresh herbs.



Thursday, July 14, 2005

mussels with sun dried tomatoes Posted by Picasa


Cozze con orzo e pomodori secchi (mussels with orzo and sun dried tomatoes)

Cozze con orzo e pomodori secchi (mussels with orzo and sun dried tomatoes)

This is a luscious and simple recipe. Great as a main course, or a starter for a grand feast. The mussels came from Prince Edward Island, since here in Massachusetts we are still plagued with the red tide. (This was typed before the end of the red tide. It is now officially over.)

2 lbs. mussels, debearded and scrubbed clean
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 anchovy fillets
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped in pieces
1 (one) 14 1/2 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1 cup red wine
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
1/4 cup minced mixed herbs (parsley, mint, thyme, basil, etc.)
grated parmeggiano cheese (optional)
1 package of baby spinach leaves, washed, then wilted (the mussels are served on this bed of spinach)

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and then smash the anchovy fillets until they melt into the oil, add the garlic cloves and red onion and saute until tender. Add the sun dried tomatoes and the canned tomatoes, wine, s&p, red pepper flakes (opt.) When all the ingredients are heated through, add the washed mussels and cook on high heat until they open. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for one minute more.

Take off the heat. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and cook the orzo until al dente.

Place the washed spinach leaves on a microwave proof dish and microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes, until they are wilted. Sprinkle with olive oil.

After the mussels are cooked, add the orzo to the pan of mussels and stir until they fill the mussels' shells.Take the wilted spinach and place on a large platter.

Add the orzo and mussels over the spinach and serve imediately.

Pass the Tuscan bread and chianti.


Monday, July 04, 2005


Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 03, 2005



As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality. George Washington

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. George Washington

War - An act of violence whose object is to constrain the enemy, to accomplish our will. George Washington

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. --John Adams, Journal, 1772

Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war. John Adams

Power always thinks... that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws. John Adams

No government ought to be without censors & where the press is free...--Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, September 9, 1792

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. James Madison

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. James Madison

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. James Madison

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. James Madison

The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war. James Madison

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad. James Madison

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.--John Quincy Adams

Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. John Quincy Adams

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