Food ‘n Flix: Letters to Juliet~

24 07 2011

I was particularly excited to see this selection come up! Letters to Juliet had been on my list of “want to see” for awhile.  A big, “Thank You!” to Kim of Stirring the Pot for being our hostess for Food and Flix and selecting this movie!  She recommended we beg, borrow or buy a copy so we could enjoy the movie of the month, so I took the opportunity to score a copy…I love flicks like this when I’m stuck in bed with some grippe. I can doze in and out of love stories all day! I wasn’t about to snooze through this movie though…  Sophie is an aspiring writer, visiting Verona, Italy with her finace, who is about to launch the restaurant of his dreams…he’s on a research mission, she’s on a romantic pre-wedding vacation in romantic Italy…

I found I could relate to both characters in this movie…it’s something to do with the duality nature of Sagittarians…*giggle*  I could imagine poor Victor’s passion for food, and being on the ground in Italy to go in search of the tastes that will make or break his upcoming restaurant…  And bless Sophie’s heart…to be in Verona and be abandoned by her future husband…  How heart-wrenching!  However, it doesn’t take fledgling writer, Sophie, to find her niche in Verona…at the foot of the Capulet balcony…with Juliet’s Secretaries.

While I loved the movie, I didn’t get a lot of culinary inspiration…except for truffles…and it’s easier to get Hen’s Teeth where I live than Truffles.  Oh well… Back to culinary imaginings!

Since this is a love story…and tomatoes were once known as “love apples…” my offering for this flick is a simple plate of fresh off the vine, sliced tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a chiffonade of just picked basil…

Indeed, passionate love can be found in many venues…  This night it was nothing more complicated than sliced tomatoes, but the sounds emanating from my dinner table could have been mistaken for a different kind of passionate love!  Yes, the tomato was really that red…  I’m not sure what variety this tomato is because I believe this was seed saved from last year’s heirloom tomatoes.  I had been out picking mint leaves for another recipe when I spied about 6 really red tomatoes…this is the one that fell off into my hand…as if to invite itself to our table.  Thanks Mother Nature!

And our heroine…Sophie?  Now…what fun would it be if I spoiled the end!  Watch the movie and Sophie’s quest to find true love…for someone else…

I hope you’ll consider joining us for the month of August too… I have the honor and delight of being August’s hostess, and we’ll be watching “Fried Green Tomatoes”!  More on that real soon!


Cook the Books: Garden Spells~

24 07 2011

Our latest reading at Cook the Books was Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  A lovely and literally enchanting novel with echoes of the movie “Practical Magic” (setting, characters…and only the light aspects of the plot), this was a quick read that inspired the gardener in me to make sure we had plenty of herbs and other tasties growing in our garden this year.  Great timing for this one, Girlichef-Heather!

I was completely enchanted with the magical concepts Ms. Allen created…different herbs, fruits and veggies enhance different emotions…  As far as making magic in the kitchen after the food is in for prep…that was nicely portrayed as well, but I was most fascinated by the combinations of ingredients to create a desired emotional result!

My sharing for this read is a Zucchini Carpaccio, inspired by Tyler Florence’s recipe.

When I was out in the garden collecting mint for this dish, I realized we had mint in bloom…and it reminded me of  “fennel pollen,” so I had to see!  Sure enough, when I nibbled on a mint flower…looks rather like lavender with tiny lavender colored blossoms on a long stalk…

so I harvested a bunch of the little tiny minty flowers to use as part of my garnish…mint was an ingredient after all!  I chopped the mint leaves nice and fine, then mixed the tiny flowers with the mint leaves…  It’s even starting to feel magical!

The blank canvas awaits...

Zucchini Carpaccio

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe

Serves 4


  • 2 medium zucchini (or seedless portions of larger specimens)
  • Kosher or freshly ground salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin lemon olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly and separated into rings
  • 2-4 ounce piece of Parmesan (Romano works equally well)
  • Fresh mint leaves and flowers, for garnish


Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice zucchini into very thin rounds. Overlap zucchini disks in 1 layer on a plate; scatter with shallots, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the lemon olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice  over the salad. Shave very thin slices of Parmesan or Romano over the salad. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

* Once the zucchini is sliced and arranged on the plate, it can wait while any other cooking goes on. Dress and garnish just before serving.

Tasting Notes~
Instant keeper!   One…when you’re looking for any different way to serve an abundance of zucchini…it helps to find something different, but two, when you run across a recipe that excites the tastebuds the way this one does…WOW!!  Zucchini is rather neutral on its own.  Pairing with lemon and olive oil as Tyler did, was ingenious.  Take that just a little higher on the ladder with local lemon olive oil, freshly picked mint leaves, shallot ( a little more bite, provided a really great contrast) and a squeeze of lemon juice…and you have a delightfully bright Summer salad.  It’s also quick to go together.  I have a mandoline, so it made the slicing quite easy, so I know we’re going to be having this salad again soon!

Great choice of reads for the Summer ladies!!  I’m looking forward to getting into A Homemade Life!

Thirty Minute Thursday: Fusilli with a Rainbow-Colored Sauce~

22 07 2011

My selection from Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta for Thirty Minute Thursday this week is Fusilli Arcobaleno…Fusilli with a rainbow-colored sauce.  I used campanelle, which look like pasta lilies, instead of fusilli.   Once again, I’m featuring ZUCCHINI…  The sauce really is rather nice…zucchini, eggplant and tomato…with a bit of bell pepper and a dash of pepper flakes and a few other surprising ingredients…tossed with the pasta.  This made a really great late-night supper for us.   When it’s hot in the summer, we often don’t stop until it gets darkish…and that can be around 8-9 pm.   It’s too hot to eat at “supper time,” but by 9-something it’s much better.  This is just what you want on one of those hot nights…sauteed fresh veggies and herbs tossed with pasta and served with a crispy cold salad on the side.   There was a nice balance of flavor, and a bit of “meatiness” from the eggplant and zucchini…just be more judicious with the red pepper flakes than I was…whoo!

Kayte from Grandma’s Kitchen Table chose Spaghettini alle Erbe (Spaghettini with Fresh Herbs) as her recipe this week.  Kayte is blessed to have all these herbs growing in pots at home!  She & I are both having wondrous garden results this year!  She’s GOT some heat, and we aren’t sweltering as we would usually be this time of year.  I’m not complaining.  Kayte served this recipe as a side dish.  Although she didn’t mention what she served it with, it would accompany any of the major proteins nicely!  I think Kayte has the right idea…I wonder how this would be with zucchini added in…

This is the best time of year for this cookbook.  There are so many great opportunities to use fresh vegetables and herbs during the summer months.  I love going out to the garden to “pick” dinner!

If you’d like to cook your way through Thirty Minute Pasta, you’re welcome to join us!  My email address is on the sidebar.  As long as you get me your link by Thursday, that’s all I need…and the link to your post!  I’d love to have you join along!

Thirty Minute Thursdays: Spring-Summer Round up!

20 07 2011

I’ve been so bad about getting recipes posted for the past 2 months…but bless Kayte from Grandma’s Kitchen Table…she’s stayed the courses with me!  LOL!  At this point, I think we have about the same number of posts either published, or (in my case) ready to go…  So…here we go!

My first dish is Linguine Carbonara…that’s what happens when you go to the pantry and discover that you cooked the last package of spaghetti earlier in the week.  I chose linguine because the two interchange frequently, and linguine is about the next size larger pasta that has the body to take on the sauce…

I love carbonara…  It’s a great solution to a very long day…combines breakfast with supper, and helps me SLEEP.  Big carbs…protein throughout, good taste…  No…it doesn’t taste like scrambled eggs and bacon…this time I did use American bacon…it was handy!  Yes…the sauce really was that yellow…it has to do with our chickens.  They have lovely deep yellow yolks.  A lot of my egg dishes are that yellow…  This is an always welcome quick supper at our house.  Little work, maximum enjoyment comfort food!

Over at Grandma’s Kitchen Table, Kayte fixed Linguine al Pesto di Basilico (Linguine with Classic Basil Pesto).

Isn’t that just gorgeous?  She used fresh basil from her ONE little basil plant for this…Fabulous Kayte!

Our next pairing for you…*giggle*

Kayte fixed the other basil recipe this week and featured it with spaghetti…this dish is called Spaghetti al Pesto Ligure con Quayliata (Spaghetti with Creamy Basil Pesto).  Although they look a lot alike, the difference lies in the sauce…One is classic made with olive oil and parmesan, the other is more creamy, being made with ricotta.

My dish this time around is Linguine with Shrimp and Zucchini.

I’ll be featuring zucchini in almost everything for awhile…I should post about the many ways I’ve used zucchini lately…more on that another time…  Needless to say, we have plenty of zucchini, so I went ISO (in search of) any pasta recipe containing zucchini…and I found several…which you’ll see as we go!    We liked this one, but it cried out for more seasoning…shhhh…we broke out the parmesan!  That’s naughty because REAL Italians don’t use cheese with fish…very often…if at all…  Oh well!

Next up we have….Spaghetti with Zucchini in Saffrom Cream….

This is probably the most complicated of any recipe of Giuliano Hazan’s that I’ve tried…and it’s still easy.  There are just a few extra steps…simmering the saffron threads in the cream for instance…  This has a different flavor from what we’re used to, and I think it shows Hazan stepping into a slightly different zone…it was really good, but I need to replace my saffron.  *sigh*  It’s not quite packing the punch it used to.

Kayte, on the other hand, was equally adventurous at Grandma’s Kitchen Table…she fixed Spaghetti with Melon.

I love Kayte’s post on this recipe…it feels like my own thoughts when I read the recipe!  This is a keeper for her, but you’ll have to read her post to find out why!

Next up we have… Kayte’s Spaghetti al Mascarpone e Proscuitto (Spaghetti with Mascarpone and Proscuitto)

And doesn’t that just look seriously yummy??  I could sure appreciate sitting down to a plate like that!

My offering is Spaghetti with Tomato and Bay Leaves

I was amazed at the taste of this…the bay leaves really give the sauce a unique essence… It probably would have been stronger without the basil chiffonade….but gotta tell you…it was pretty WOW!.  This one’s a keeper!  And with the tomatoes starting to come on in the garden…it’s going to be “What do we do with tomatoes and zucchini?” for awhile!

Incidentally…had I been on time…this would have been my submission to Food ‘n Flix for shhh…May…to go with Under the Tuscan Sky.  I’ve really had a full life and then some DEEP recharging! I’ve read, I’ve watched, I’ve cooked…I haven’t posted! LOL!  If those are my greatest worries or skinned knees…I should be so lucky!

That catches us up through today… Tomorrow is Thirty Minute Thursday, but I’m ready! YAY!!  Now I’m off to catch up on a few dozen other posting projects…oy… *Ü*  Kayte…super Kudos for sticking with me!!  I know we both had a rocky end of year!  I’m planning on feeding staff a lot next year when I can’t cut it down to 2…

Bake! Cream Cheese Scones ~

20 07 2011

It isn’t for lack of cooking that I haven’t posted…it was for lack of photo-editing time, and and getting the new camera squared away in my head.  And in the photo editing program. Different cameras…different settings… Oh well.  Here we go…

My host recipe for Bake! this summer was Cream Cheese Scones, found on page 182 of Nick Malgieri’s Bake!  I had the best intentions, even cooked my scones at the right time…the rest of my time avalanched!  *Ü*  These went together amazingly easily…and were soon ready to bake…

After an appropriate amount of time in the oven, the scones emerged nice and golden brown…

A bit of cooling and…voila!

These scones had a nice rich flavor…butter and cream cheese…how could it not?  And a really tender crumb…  While rich, these cried out for something a little “more” at serving time…  Butter…no…they were already buttery…ahh….  Homemade jam…choose your flavor!  We selected Pluot.  A pluot is a cross between an Apricot and a Plum…big as a plum, with flesh more like an apricot than a plum, and if you’re lucky…easy to release seeds!  And the flavor…oh!  That reminds me…it’s coming on to Pluot season!  Got to get some for snacking!

Tasting Notes~
These were good…but we didn’t gobble them up for some reason.  We polished off another recipe of scones in lightning fast time…so I don’t know if it was just this recipe, or we just weren’t in the mood…  Still, the recipe is great, reliable and clear, and the scones were rich and tasty.  I don’t know what happened this time!

Hi there…remember me? Wow…

17 07 2011

First, I can hardly believe it’s been 2 months since I posted. Mercy! Just Life being Life and not having enough time to cover every base and recharge between bouts sums up where I’ve been.  I haven’t been active in any cooking groups, even my own…  Which is not to say I haven’t cooked…I certainly have and will make mass presentations shortly.

Second…does anyone have recipes for using up zucchini?  We have 2 plants. That’s all. 2.  I’m really awash in zucchini this year.  Last year…couldn’t get enough to do anything with, and they’d get HUGE…this year they’re perfectly timed to be gorgeous for any application.  So far, we’ve had zucchini pancakes and zucchini latkes…that explains it better than zucchini cakes…which we also had…a chocolate zucchini cake.  We’ve had it grilled and fried and with pasta…  I have plenty…I can afford to mess up a few times!  My tomatoes are looming on the vines in about the same way…big gorgeous suckers this year… I don’t know where we got this seed…could be some we saved…the tomatoes are coming off firm, red, ripe and full of flavor.  *sigh*  Time to pick up some buffalo mozzarella…because of course I have basil right beside those tomatoes!

I’m out of here for the moment, but will be back with some 30 Minute Thursday Round ups!  I just need to do some photo finding!