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!