Giambotta is a Southern Italian vegetable stew usually made in late summer and takes advantage of whatever vegetables are available. It’s pronounced “jamm-baught.” Everyone makes it a little differently and you can vary the recipe based on what vegetables are ripe.
As I said, everyone makes it differently and my family’s recipe is more different than most. My Aunt Vicki’s mother brought her family’s recipe from Italy in the early 1900s. That version was a little fancier. In addition to the vegetables she’d add some bite-sized, cubed pieces of mortadella. Back then mortadella wasn’t so easy to find in America but frankfurters were, so she used them instead. If you think about it, they’re not so very different. My family still makes it the same way. It may seem like a strange combination of ingredients but to me it’s comfort food.
Lightly brown the potatoes in oil in a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Remove the potatoes. Add the onions and cook until soft and transparent but not brown. Add the pepper slices and cook until soft. Add the zucchini and frankfurters and stir and simmer for a few minutes.
Then the tomato puree and basil – you might have to add some water if it’s too thick. Return the potatoes, taste for seasoning and simmer covered on low for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Serve it then and it’s even better left-over.
I never gave much thought to the cheeseburger’s history. I always assumed that they’d been around forever. But they haven’t.
Here’s a New York Times article from 1947 when cheeseburgers were considered something new and exotic. The author says the beef and cheese combination “may seem bizarre.” I wonder what she would have thought of bacon. She includes a recipe too, for some very small burgers.
This is a take on a Croatian recipe – na buzaru means stew. It’s typically made with langoustines in their shells. I found them difficult to eat so I used shelled shrimp instead.
Heat a tablespoon of the oil in pan over medium heat and toast the bread crumbs. Remove the bread crumbs and in the same pan heat the remaining oil over medium heat and sauté the onion. When the onion is translucent add the tomato paste, and mix until the onion is coated.
Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes but don’t brown the garlic. Add the wine and tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the shrimp and simmer, covered until done – about 5 minutes. Stir in the toasted bread crumbs, the parsley, and give it a good squeeze of lemon. Serve with pasta, rice or bread.
In Spanish, bodega can mean food warehouse, wine cellar or grocery store. In New York City, a bodega is a Latino run grocery/convenience store/neighborhood meeting place. (Maybe not exclusively Latino run anymore, sometimes Middle-Eastern now.) Even Taylor Swift weighed in on them – see below.
Beyond those red on yellow signs, besides groceries, you can get cigarettes, coffee, beer, sandwiches, local news, productos tropicales, and sometimes, nutcracker and a loose joint.
Lately, The New York City Bodega has become news. Some West Coast techies think they have a better idea. There was a recent NY Daily News article by the president of the Bodega Assn, of the United States dealing with them:
As New York’s Welcome Ambassador (?), Taylor Swift told the world about our bodegas.
Eggplant and Squash – Lots of people say they don’t like eggplant and squash after only having tasted them in their school cafeteria. If they tried it made with care and the right ingredients they might change their mind.
Eggplant with Mint
This same recipe works for both eggplant and squash (use zucchini). It’s good on sandwiches or in antipasto. If you leave out the mint and vinegar and do everything else the same you can also serve it on pasta with tomato sauce. This isn’t something you’d see in a restaurant but it’s not uncommon in Napolitano home cooking.
The ingredients are approximate. So don’t worry if you have to add some or have any left over. (if you have left over mint make a mint julep)
– only fresh mint works with this recipe –
Cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Lightly brown in oil, don’t drain it, and then layer in a container.
Start with some salt, a few pieces of garlic, some mint and a sprinkle of vinegar in a Tupperware container. Then the first layer of eggplant. Between layers of eggplant add a sprinkle of salt, a dash of vinegar, some mint and a little garlic. When it cools, cover and shake the container so it settles. It should be ready after a couple of days in the fridge. The mint leaves will darken but it will keep refrigerated for a few weeks.
Wash, cut off both ends, cut squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Use a spoon or melon-baller.
Cut into half round slices – about 3/4 inch. Toss with oil, salt, black pepper, chopped parsley and minced garlic. Make sure it’s coated completely with oil.
Put in a baking pan and cook for 30-35 min. in a 375 degree oven. Turn them after 15 minutes. The skin is edible.
When I was in elementary school I went home for lunch and then in high school I went out to a local deli or coffee shop at lunchtime. But that was then and in Manhattan. This is now and what’s going on with “School Lunch.”
This is quick, easy, inexpensive and nutritious, vegan too if you don’t use cheese. Put a pot of water on the stove and by the time the pasta is done, you’ll be ready to eat.
Slice the mushrooms as thinly as possible. Use a mandolin if you have one. Put them in a large serving bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon (no pith) and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Either use a press or very finely chop the garlic and add it to the mushrooms. Mix thoroughly and be sure all of the mushrooms are coated with lemon juice. Add the parsley, salt, black and red pepper and oil and mix again. Let the mushroom mixture sit while you make the pasta or for at least 15 minutes.
You got it, the mushrooms will not be cooked. The salt and acid in the lemon juice are all they’ll need, sort of like ceviche.
When the spaghetti is done to your taste, drain it and add it to the serving bowl with the mushroom mixture, retaining some of the cooking water. Mix well and if it’s to dry add some of the reserved cooking water. Serve with the parmigiana.
There’s the basic Plain Bagel, then Poppy, Sesame, Onion and even Pumpernickel – Bialys too. After that it starts to get a little crazy – blueberry? cinnamon walnut? jalapeno? Well, I guess there’s something for everybody.
As a New Yorker, it goes without saying that I like bagels. All New Yorkers do. We grew up with them. It’s a standard New York practice for mothers to give their babies a smooth plain bagel for teething.
With butter or a schmear* and coffee for breakfast or with Nova** for lunch, it’s perfect. Go to a New York event – a seminar, corporate meeting, workshop – if it’s in the morning and it’s catered there will be bagels. And if it’s just muffins, there will be complaints.
When I was in the army and stationed in the South in the late 1960s, I tried to order a bagel in Augusta, Georgia. The response was “What’s a bagel?” I was offered a honeybun instead, which wasn’t bad. But now, at least they know what bagels are, even if honeybuns are still more popular.
Without getting into too much history, I can say this – the bagel originated in Eastern Europe, it’s Jewish and the name is Yiddish. New York City bagels are supposed to be the best in the country because of our water. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t but when friends visit, having a New York bagel is on their list of things to do because, they say, they can’t get a good one back home.
* a schmear is Yiddish for a thin layer of cream cheese
** Nova – Nova Scotia is like lox but a little less salty
The story goes that after he won the Battle of Marengo in northern Italy, Napoleon was hungry. His chef sent out troops to scavenge what they could and they came back with chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and herbs. The original recipe also included fried eggs and craw fish but I left that out.
Season the room temperature chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Brown it in the butter and oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pan large enough so it fits in one layer. Remove the chicken and pour off the fat from the pan. Return the chicken to the pan and add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Stir and cook about five minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth and parsley. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover and cook 10 minutes. Serve with rice, bread or small pasta.