When I was a little girl, I would lurk around the breakfast table in the mornings, pestering my parents or my aunt to let me dunk my pan de sal (Filipino rolls) in their coffee. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to drink it, which made me want it even more. However, once in a while, my mom would nod her head and allow me to dip my bread in one of the cups and watch it soak up the coffee like a sponge. I would quickly put the soggy bread in my mouth so the coffee wouldn’t drip down my arm and all over the table. I particularly coveted my aunt’s coffee, which was a couple shades lighter in color than my dad’s, as she preferred her coffee with a generous amount of milk (and sugar, for that matter).
Over the last couple of posts, I’ve taken you to Hawaii for salmon poke and to Tahiti for poisson cru. Today, I’m taking you halfway around the world to Italy for pesce crudo, which literally translates to “raw fish.” It is similar to the Japanese sashimi, but instead of wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger, Italians traditionally dress the fish with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt. As with the other raw fish dishes I’ve shared with you, the key to crudo is to use the freshest quality ingredients and let their flavors shine.
We Americans often think that bruschetta is the mixture of tomatoes, garlic, and basil on a slice of toasted bread. Bruschetta, from the Italian word bruscare, meaning to toast or burn, actually refers to the thick slices of grilled bread. Often served as a snack or appetizer, bruschetta is traditionally prepared by rubbing the bread with garlic and drizzling it with olive oil before toasting it over hot coals. Then the bread is topped with a simple mixture of tomatoes and fresh herbs. It is an easy way to showcase the excellent quality of freshly-pressed olive oil as well as a way to preserve bread that is beginning to get stale.
I was first introduced to gnocchi about ten years ago at Salumi, a tiny storefront and deli in Seattle owned by Armandino Batali, Mario’s dad. Salumi sells sandwiches filled with artisanal cured meats made in-house and other Italian foods. Once a week, at a counter in a small nook at the front window, Izzy, Armandino’s older sister, made gnocchi from scratch. She made it look so easy. I would watch in fascination as her weathered hands deftly shaped the little dumplings. She would roll the perfect pieces of dough effortlessly on a gnocchi paddle and flick them right into a sheet pan a few hundred or, maybe, a thousand, times a day. She stood there, mostly silent, yet always smiling, for she knew the secret of making light and tender pillows made of potatoes and flour. Continue reading
The meyer lemon is a key ingredient in this easy, yet delicious pasta dish. In less than 30 minutes and with only a few ingredients, you can make this totally satisfying meal. It is another versatile dish that can be served simply as is with a side salad or a piece of bread, or dressed up with some chicken breast, grilled shrimp or salmon. Lemon thyme, parsley, or basil would also make great additions to this pasta, not only for added flavor, but for color, as well. The meyer lemon, less acidic and sweeter than regular lemons, shines through and brightens the flavor of this no-cook sauce and the goat cheese adds a tanginess as well as creaminess. This recipe is a good one for me to have in my repertoire of quick and easy meals since it’s a good one to make especially after a long day at work and what feels like an even longer commute home. It really can’t get any easier that this to prepare a home-cooked meal.