This is a traditional Caesar Salad recipe. It contains raw eggs and anchovies. Caesar Salad was invented in Mexico by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who lived in San Diego but operated a restaurant in Tijuana where he could serve alcohol during Prohibition.
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup day old Italian bread, crust trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt & black pepper
1 clove garlic, halved
2 large eggs
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 minced anchovies (or more)
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan
Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan large enough to hold the bread in a single layer and turn heat to medium-high. When it’s hot, add the bread, salt and pepper. Toss and brown lightly. Remove and set aside.
Rub the inside of a salad bowl with the garlic clove and discard it.
Beat the eggs and pour into the salad bowl. Slowly add the lemon juice and 6 tablespoons oil, constantly beating. Stir in anchovies and Worcestershire.
Taste for seasoning. Keep in mind that the anchovies and cheese are salty but add lots of pepper. Toss to coat the lettuce. Add the Parmesan and croutons, toss again and serve.
Whenever I see a pumpkin I think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t normally think of Venice. I have a friend who spent some time there who told me that pumpkin (zucca in Italian) is a common ingredient in Venetian cuisine. He’s had it pureed in soup, with pasta, and as a side with meat or fish. Simple roasted pumpkin is even available from street vendors.
1 pumpkin about the size of a cantaloupe
½ tsp. salt
A few sprinkles of nutmeg
3 tbsp. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400o.
Wash the pumpkin and cut off the top and bottom. Pull out the seeds * and scrape out the fibers using the edge of a spoon or a melon baller. Cut the pumpkin in 1 inch wide slices.
Toss the slices in a bowl with the salt, nutmeg, and oil. Place them in a baking pan skin side down and roast for 25 minutes. Serve plain or as a side dish. You can eat the skin.
* If you like you can also roast the seeds. Mix 1 cup of rinsed and dried seeds with 2 tsp. melted butter and a dash of salt. Place them in a single layer on a baking pan and roast at 300o for 45 minutes or until golden brown stirring occasionally.
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.
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.
This is a perfect side dish for a meat and potato meal. Pommes Persillade are crisp because they’re boiled, dried, and fried.
2 russet potatoes 1 tbs. kosher salt + ½ tbs. divided 1 minced garlic clove Small bunch chopped parsley 2 tbs. melted butter ½ tsp. black pepper 2 tbs. olive oil
Peel and cut the potatoes into approximate 1 inch cubes. Place them in a pot of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Thoroughly drain the potatoes and spread them on paper towels for at least 10 minutes to dry.
In the meantime, chop the parsley, mince the garlic and add it to the melted butter. Also add the remaining ½ tablespoon of salt and the ½ teaspoon of black pepper.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the potatoes over medium-high heat. Don’t crowd the pan and work in batches if you need to. Cook them until they’re crisp/lightly browned. Place the potatoes in a serving bowl, toss with the parsley/garlic/butter mixture and serve.
Here’s a basic and simple focaccia recipe using just 4 ingredients. The total time spent on it is about half an hour – not counting rising.
1. 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2. ½ tsp. dry yeast
3. ½ tbs. kosher salt
4. 4 tbs. olive oil divided + more for greasing
1. Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the water (about 1 ¾ cups) and stir with a spatula until you have a sticky dough. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in another bowl. Add the dough and roll it around to coat it with the oil. Cover it tightly with Saran and refrigerate for at least 1 and no more than 2 days.
2. Brush ¼ baking sheet (9”x13”) with oil. Put the dough in the pan and spread it with your fingers. Add more oil if it starts to stick. If it doesn’t get to the edges of the pan it will when after it rises. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm place for 30 minutes to 1 hour until it doubles its size. Pat down the dough down to about 1 inch thickness and dimple the entire surface with your fingertips. Sprinkle or brush it with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. While you’re waiting for it to rise pre-heat the over to 450 degrees.
That’s basic focaccia but the toppings are up to you and now is the time to add them. Sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and herbs, chopped tomatoes, chives or scallions, sliced pitted olives, sesame seeds and/or onions. (Be creative.If you’re feeling artistic you can make a focaccia garden.)Lightly press the toppings into the dimpled dough before you add the olive oil. I often make it plain because I like it for breakfast with butter and preserves.
3. Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes rotating the pan once, front to back. Let it cool and then remove it from the pan. It’s good while it’s still warm and will last another couple of days unrefrigerated if wrapped in Saran. It’s thick enough to slice and use for sandwiches.
Here’s another easy recipe. This one’s for a side dish. Arugula with garlic and oil is just three ingredients plus salt and pepper. Precise measurements don’t matter much for this one. Arugula is also known as rocket and is similar to spinach and collard greens which you can also make this way.
Arugula –as much as you like
2 sliced cloves of garlic – more if you like garlic
Olive oil – enough to coat the greens
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer on a low flame for about 5 minutes to infuse the oil with garlic flavor. Don’t brown it. Add the arugula, a ½ cup of water, and toss it until it wilts.
I got another potato recipe from Tommy the bartender. This one is for baked potatoes. Everybody knows how to bake a potato, right? Well, according to Tommy, if you take a little more care and a few extra steps you can make a really exceptional baked potato.
2 tbsp. salt (more for serving)
4 russet potatoes
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Brine – 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in ½ cup of water.
Pre-heat the over to 400o.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and toss to coat thoroughly with the brine.
Instead of poking holes in the skin, cut a long X across the top of the potato about ¼ in deep. Place the potatoes on a rack in a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut the X a little deeper – about another ½ inch. Coat the skins with the oil and put the potatoes back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Break them open by pushing in the ends and serve them simply with salt and butter or any way you like.
I got this recipe from a bartender in an Irish pub in Manhattan. He was a chef in Ireland. He said some cooks add garlic and rosemary to the recipe but he preferred it “plain” and that’s the way I made it. Fondant potatoes go well with any kind of roast meat – beef, chicken, lamb, etc.
3 or 4 russet potatoes
salt & black pepper
4 tbsps. vegetable oil
4 tbsps. butter
Rosemary sprigs (optional)
1 cup chicken broth
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Cut the rounded ends off the potatoes so they’ll stand upright. Slice the skin off the sides with a sharp knife, leaving ridges. Then cut them in half leaving 2 cylinders about 2 inches high.
Soak in cold water for 5 minutes to remove some of the surface starch and dry them well. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet. Add the potatoes flat side down and cook until the bottoms are brown. Turn the potatoes to the other flat side and pour off the oil (careful – that oil is hot).
Bring the pan back to medium heat and add the butter. (If you’re using garlic and rosemary, add it now.) Leave it on the burner until the butter starts to brown. Pour in the chicken stock and place the pan in the oven. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes, let them cool a bit and serve.
I may be a native New Yorker but I’ve always loved Southern food. I got this recipe in the New York Daily News. Even if you don’t want the sausage gravy, it’s still a great biscuit recipe.
For the Biscuits –
2 ½ cups flour
2 tbsps. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
4 ozs. butter
1 cup buttermilk
Pre-heat the oven to 425o.
Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Grate in the butter into the bowl and blend. Add the buttermilk and stir until it comes together like a rough dough. Sprinkle some flour on your counter and knead the dough by folding it in half a few times. No need to over do it.
Roll out the dough into a one-inch layer. Use a biscuit cutter (I use a glass) to cut 2 to 3 inch diameter biscuits. You should get about 12. Put the cut outs on a buttered baking sheet. Brush the tops of each with melted butter and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Salt and black pepper (easy on the salt if the broth is salty)
Brown the sausage meat in the oil in a frying pan. Remove the meat leaving the oil and some brown bits. At medium heat, add the butter and when it melts and stops foaming quickly stir in the flour. Don’t let it brown. This is a light-colored gravy.
Raise the heat and whisk in the chicken broth. When it thickens and becomes smooth, return the cooked sausage meat to the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes. Heat the cream, add it to the pan and mix. Taste for seasoning. Serve it hot, spooned over the split biscuits.
The biscuits are pretty good with butter and preserves too.