Hang the jalapenos someplace where there is good air flow. They don’t have to be in the sun to be sun dried.
Depending on the weather, after a couple of weeks when they become hard and red, they’re done. Cut off the stem end and place them in boiling water for 5 minutes.
Drain them, pat them dry and lightly press them to squeeze out as much water as you can. Let them continue to dry for 60 minutes and then place them in a jar. Fill the jar with olive oil, close tightly and shake. This will release some air bubbles. Add more oil and refrigerate. They’ll be ready to eat in a week.
Start by roasting the jalapenos on an open flame. First, they’ll blister and then blacken – keep turning until they’re done.
Scrape off the blackened skin with the back of a knife and cut off the stem end. Some specs of black might remain and that’s OK. Don’t be tempted to rinse them. You’ll wash off the flavor.
Slice them open and scrape out the veins and seeds.
Put them on a slice of bread, a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt – done.
Horses and Figures in a Turnip Field by William Edward Millner
Roasted Turnip Slices
My favorite vegetable has always been fried potatoes. Vegetables aren’t really something I’m crazy about especially if they’re braised, boiled or steamed. But roasted is another story. Roasting is almost as good as frying and roasted turnip slices even look like French fries.
Preheat oven to 425o. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil to coat. Add the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder to the bowl and thoroughly mix with your hands. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Bake in preheated oven until the done, about 20 minutes.
Farro is an ancient type of wheat. It’s been around for so long in the Mediterranean and Middle East I’m surprised that I only came across it for the first time just a few years ago. Some more farro information here.
Farro Porridge and Farro Breakfast Bowl
– same ingredients for both but a different preparation –
½ cup farro
1 ¾ cups water
Pinch of salt
¼ cup milk
Put the farro in a blender or food processor and process until it’s ground but some small pieces remain. It’s fairly hard grain so this will take a few minutes.
Bring the water and salt to a boil and pour in the ground farro while stirring. Lower the heat and cook while stirring often for about 15 minutes until it’s thickened. Stir in the milk and any dried fruit or nuts if you’re using them. Stir for another 5 minutes and serve.
Farro Breakfast Bowl
Add farro and water to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it starts to boil cover it and lower the heat. Simmer for about 25 minutes, until most of the water has been absorbed and the farro becomes soft. Stir in the milk and any dried fruit or nuts if you’re using them. Raise the heat and simmer another 10 minutes uncovered and serve.
– toppings and sweeteners for both –
Topping for Breakfast Farro – Currents, raisins, chopped dried apricots, chopped nuts – add during the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking.
Sweeten with your choice of honey, molasses, maple syrup or brown sugar.
1 & 1/2 cups farro
4 cups water, stock or a mixture of both
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
Put the farro and liquid in a pot with salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. It should be soft but chewy. Drain any cooking liquid that’s left. Place the cooked farro in a serving dish and sprinkle with olive oil and serve as you would rice.
The last time we were in Florida, our good friends Paulie and Loraine who live there, met us at our hotel. Loraine brought us a snack to pick on at the beach – stuffed artichokes. They were delicious and hit the spot. Here’s her recipe.
Plain breadcrumbs (about two cups)
A few cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
A little salt
Chopped fresh parsley
Locatelli Romano cheese (about a cup or more depending on your taste)
Olive Oil (not extra virgin)
2 or 3 artichokes depending on size
Artichokes – Cut the stem off – cut the top off – cut the leaves in steps – different levels for easier stuffing.
Boil them for about 10 minutes to make them pliant.
Stuffing – Mix all together in a bowl – drizzle with the olive oil so it’s not too dry – not too wet.Stuff the artichokes and then put them back in the pot you boiled them in – adding a little bit of the stuffing and add some olive oil. Sprinkle a little water over the stuffed artichokes to make sure they are moist. Cover and steam until the leaves pull off easily – keep watching to see if more water needs to be added.
After cooked- put them in a cake pan (round or square) – sprinkle with more Locatelli Romano cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes!
If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m Italian-American and most often post Italian recipes. But not this time. I grew up in New York and specifically on the Lower East Side so that means I grew up with Jewish food. Latkes have always been one of my favorites and my grandmother used to make them. If you think about it, a Jewish latke isn’t very different than an Italian potato and egg frittata.
My father’s mother, Amalia came to America from Italy in the early 1880s as a young teenager. Her family settled on Prince Street in what was to become Little Italy but was then a mix of Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants. Her first job was in a nearby Jewish garment factory and being surrounded by girls and women speaking nothing but Yiddish, that was the first language she learned in America. English came later.
My Aunt Sis told me that once when she was shopping with her mother, she saw a coat she liked. Grandma said it cost too much and started to leave the store.
One of the shopkeepers told the other in Yiddish, “These Italian mothers always give in to their kids. She’ll be back for the coat.”
My grandmother turned to him and said in impeccable Yiddish, “It’s too expensive but I might buy it if we could negotiate a better price.” The surprised shopkeeper did just that.
I remember family dinners at her apartment and there were often some of her garment worker friends invited. Grandma spoke perfect English and Italian and it was always fun for us grandchildren to hear her conversing with her old friends in Yiddish.
I think I’ve figured out the Latke recipe she used although it’s possible she fried them in olive oil. But whatever kind you use, the oil is a reminder during Chanukah of what was burned to keep the eternal flame alive the temple.
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until the flour is absorbed. Use the coarse side of a grater to grate the potatoes and onion. Do this right over a dish towel and then squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid as you can. Add potatoes and onions to the flour and egg mix and blend thoroughly.
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Put a tablespoon of the potato mix in the pan (I use an ice cream scoop) and flatten it with a spatula. Don’t worry about rough edges – they’ll get crisp and that’s what you want.
Cook them for about 4-5 minutes and turn them. Then the same on the 2nd side. When they’re done, drain them on a paper tower (or a brown paper bag like Grandma did) and sprinkle with salt. Serve them hot with apple sauce and sour cream. Happy Chanukah!
Click here for updated GALLERY II– a special Italian Grandma video today
Pollice Verso (With a Turned Thumb) by Jean Leon Gerome, 1872
I guess everyone has heard of the Paleo Diet – that’s what people ate 10,000 years ago. It’s basically meat, nuts, fruit and vegetables. There’s something a little more current, well, from about 2,000 years ago, the Gladiator Diet. It’s what Roman gladiators ate to stay in fighting condition. And surprisingly, it was almost a completely vegetarian diet.
Oat and Seed Cakes
No meat and potatoes for these guys. They ate mostly barley, beans and some pasta too, often flavored with fish sauce, trying to put on enough weight to cushion those sword and spear wounds in the arena. That wasn’t enough to strengthen their bones so they drank a sort of “sports drink,” a mix of wood and bone ash to build up calcium. They also drank goats milk and water but no wine. This combination of food and drink made them fit and tough.
String Beans a la Gladiator (based on what we know they ate and what was commonly available in Rome back then)
Boil the string beans for 5 minutes. In another pot sauté the onion in oil until soft, translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the drained, cooked string beans to the onions, add the colatura di alici and about 1/2 cup of the water you boiled the string beans in. Taste for seasoning. Colatura di Alici can be very salty and you may not need any more salt. Simmer for a few minutes and serve.
String Beans a la Gladiator
Some more information on the Gladiator Diet here –
2 preparation techniques – tostones with green unripened platonos and meduros for yellow/black ripe ones.
Tostones can be served along side meat like potatoes or as a snack like potato chips. They’re made from an unripe platano (plantain). That’s a type of a very hard and starchy green banana.
I learned to make them while hanging out with a Puerto Rican friend in his sister Evelyn’s kitchen. You start by cutting off the two ends and making shallow knife slits in the skin along the length of the platano. The skin is thick and hard and not easy to peal like a regular banana.
After they’re peeled, cut them into ¾ inch rounds and fry them in light oil like Wesson or Canola. Lightly brown them on both sides and remove them to drain on a paper towel. After they cool a bit, flatten them and fry them again until the edges get crisp. tostonera
Some people use a tostonera but whacking them with the bottom of a Coke bottle works just as well for this step. I thought it interesting that Evelyn used a Coke bottle to flatten her tostones and my mother used one to squash olives so she could remove the pits – a cross-cultural improvised kitchen utensil.
After the second frying, sprinkle them with salt and serve hot or room temperature.
Meduros are made in a similar way but don’t need to be flattened and fried twice. A meduro is a ripened platano. You should buy the ones that are almost black. As they ripen the starch turns to sugar so a meduro is sweet instead of savory like a tostone.
Peel them the same way and cut them into one-inch slices on a bias (diagonally). Fry them on a high heat to brown them, then lower the heat and cook until they soften. They may be sweet but they’re also served along side meat.
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.
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.
I was in the South often enough to develop an appreciation for corn bread but when I buy it here in New York, it’s usually too crumbly and sweet. Not really bread at all but more like a corn muffin. Ok for breakfast but it doesn’t stand up beside real food. I tried a few recipes but couldn’t quite get what I wanted until I asked my friend Lindsey Prokscha, baker extraordinaire, for some help. She made a few tweaks and this is the result.
Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the corn meal, flour, baking powder & soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl the whisk egg and buttermilk then mix it with the dry ingredients. Heat the bacon drippings in a 10 inch cast iron skillet until it sizzles, coat skillet, then pour what remains of the bacon fat into the batter and stir it in,
Pour the batter into the hot cast iron skillet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
It should be firm and golden brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the skillet when it’s done.