These Little Bird Cookies were a typical Easter dessert when I was growing up. Well, Easter was different this year due to COVID 19 so we’re having them in August. My Aunt Vicky’s family was from Abruzzo where these cookies originated. When she made them, they really did look like little birds. Some of ours resemble chickens and others look more like fish but they still taste good.
16 oz. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup white wine:
3 tbs. granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
Put the flour in a large bowl and add the liquids, sugar, and salt. Mix and knead to form dough. Cover and let it rest for at least 1 hour.
5 oz. blanched almonds, toasted and ground
2 oz. grated dark chocolate
Zest of 1 orange
10 oz. Montepulciano grape jam (not so easy to find – I used raspberry preserves)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. dark rum
Dried currants for eyes
Place the almonds in a dry frying pan and toast on medium heat until they lightly color. Grind them in a food processor to a coarse powder. Chill the chocolate in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier to grate. Put all the filing ingredients in a pot and heat on low for 15 minutes. Let it cool before using it.
Pre-heat the oven to 340 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out into a thin sheet. Use a bowl or glass to cut circles. Re-knead and roll out the scraps. The bowl I used was 4 ½ inches in diameter and I got 15 cookies.
Put a teaspoon of filling in the center of a circle. Fold it in half and press the edges to seal. Shape a head and make a triangular cut for a beak. Use a current for an eye. Poke a few holes where the wing should be to let the steam escape and cut a few lines to represent feathers in the tail. If you’re artistic and take your time it should look like a little bird. If not, just shape it into a half moon. Bake for 20 minutes, let cool and serve.
. . . “Prosciutto Crudo is an Italian dry-cured ham that is usually served raw and thinly sliced. The word crudo means raw, as opposed to prosciutto cotto, which is cooked. It is characterised by a pinkish-red color and is slightly veined with thin streaks of fat. The fat or lard around it, which is pure white, is delicate and complements the meat so, when eating Prosciutto Crudo, both the meat and the fat should be enjoyed together. . .”
I recently did a post on Garlic Scapes. At the time I didn’t know what they were but got some feedback from subscribers who were familiar with them. I found scapes at a local greenmarket and was able to try the Italy Magazine recipe that I referred to, as well as another recipe that I got at the green market.
Here’s the recipe directly from Italy Magazine:
1 pound (454g) garlic scapes
2 cups (470g) white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Equipment: 2 sterilized pint-size (1/2 L) jars
Cut the scapes into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths, removing any tough parts at the bottom and the thinnest part at the top above the small bulbous tip.
Bring the vinegar to a boil over medium-high heat in a saucepan large enough to hold the scapes. Stir in the salt and let it dissolve. Add the scapes to the pot and cover. Boil, stirring once or twice, until the scapes have lost their bright green color, 4 to 5 minutes.
Drain the scapes in a colander set in the sink. Spread them out on a clean kitchen towel and let dry for about 1 hour. Shuffle them around a few times so they dry on all sides.
Pack the scapes into the jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Cover the scapes completely with oil, pressing down on the scapes to submerge them. Screw the lids on tightly and let rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
Transfer the scapes to the refrigerator and let cure for one week before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 12 weeks. To serve, remove from the jar only as many scapes as you plan to use and let them come to room temperature. Top off the jar with more oil as needed to keep the remaining scapes submerged. Serve on sandwiches, in salads or in an antipasto.
This is the recipe I got at the green market for sautéed garlic scapes:
1 bunch of garlic scapes
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and black pepper
Same as above – Cut the scapes into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths, removing any tough parts at the bottom and the thinnest part at the top above the small bulbous tip.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add cut scapes and boil for 5 minutes (no need to dry them as thoroughly as above).
Sauté in olive oil with salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish, on a sandwich or in an omlette.
“There is one region, however, that is perchance lacking credit where credit is due…Piedmont/Piemonte. A northernmost province, Piedmont sits mirthfully tucked in the north-west cuff of the boot, sharing the largest portion of its border with France. The capital city of Turin is potentially the best-known in the region, her accolades to include Fiat and The Shroud. However, there are many gastronomic wonders to be found throughout the smorgasbord of culinary richness that is the Piemontese palate. . . “
I came across this Marcella Hazan cartoon article in the New York Times Food Section on Wednesday. Her base of onion, celery and carrot is know as a trinity. The 3 red sauces seem like a simple combination of good ingredients and are probably very tasty but I just don’t know about all that butter in Tomato Sauce III.
We had dinner on Broadway. I mean really on Broadway, right in the street. The City has granted restaurant owners the right to set up tables in what used to be the parking lane in the street fronting their restaurants.
We ate at Telio, one of our favorite locals. They went a step further and had a singer at dinnertime. The whole scene was very festive.
On some avenues, there’s a bike lane between the curb and the parking lane, so ‘Watch Out.’
Some of them have gotten very creative and set up platforms, colorful barriers and planters under canopies and umbrellas that look like a small oasis.
I don’t suppose this will work well in winter, but for now it offers an opportunity to eat out without going into a restaurant.
Sweet tea and Bourbon are two favorite Southern drinks. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect Southern summer cocktail.
Let’s start with the sweet tea. If you don’t already have a recipe try this –
3 tea bags
2 tbs. sugar (or to your taste)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
A few mint leaves
Fill a 16 ounce measuring cup 8 ounces of boiling water. Add 3 teabags, sugar, lemon juice, and mint. Remove the bags when the tea is good and dark. Fill the measuring cup with ice and when it melts strain the tea into a liter bottle. Top it off with cold water and refrigerate.
Now the cocktail –
1 ½ oz. Bourbon
4 oz. sweet tea
Pour the Bourbon and tea over ice in a rock glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.
“Zolle sott’olio ~ pickled garlic scapes preserved in oil ~ are a specialty of Sulmona, a picturesque medieval city ringed by mountains in Abruzzo. The city is mostly famous for confetti, those candy-coated almond confections you see at Italian weddings, and for being the birthplace of the poet Ovid. . .”
The West 97th Street Green Market was set up for social distancing. The sidewalk was marked with chalk to indicate where to form lines and keep 6 feet between customers. All of the vendors wore masks and gloves.
I was at the West 97th Street Green Market when I came across purslane, a type of greens I’d never seen or heard of before. It’s common in Spain, Greece, and Italy and is a good source of omega-3 and other vitamins and minerals. Purslane is also known as hogweed, pusley, and fatweed. It’s tender enough to use raw in salads. It also works it in stews and frittatas. This recipe for a simple side dish is the one given to me by the farmers who grew it.
2 cups purslane
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Put 1 cup of water and a garlic clove in a frying pan. Turn the heat to medium-high.
When the water boils, add the purslane, and reduce the heat to low. Cover the frying pan and keep cooking for 6-7 minutes. If the Purslane has woody stems cook it a little longer.
Remove it from the heat, drain, and season with salt, pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil, Sprinkle with Parmesan just before serving.
“. . . If you had met him the year his famous book was published, you might have mistaken William Hughes for a mild-mannered gardener. By that time, he had settled into his role at the country estate of the Viscountess Conway, a noblewoman and philosopher, and had published a book on grapevines. But the old man was more than a tottering plant enthusiast. When his treatise on New World botany, The American Physitian, dropped in 1672, its contents revealed a swashbuckling history. . .”