italian summer country cake

I’m eating a piece of cake, remembering when my kids had birthday parties…the clearing of the table right after the cake, just before the presents, and all those paper plates with beheaded cupcakes on them.

Little cakes in paper liners with their fancy frosted tops chewed right off. I know some grown-up children who still consider cake a mere delivery vehicle for cream, fudge or frosting, but for me it’s always been the opposite.  As a girl, I’d scrape off the frosting and go all in for cake.  [Read more...]

shaved carrots, tangerine and pomegranate

The last farmer’s market of the year where I am in New Jersey was last week. I’m still wrapping my head around that fact…can’t we push the “Pause”button so that I can resume my summer?

No? Well, okay. I hereby accept there was a major interruption in my usual flow of life. Moving on!

While living in the moment, I scooped up this gorgeous bunch of heirloom carrots in rainbow colors before the market closed.

I was going to throw them in a roasting pan – my usual modus operandi – but changed my mind when I saw the jeweled-colored ribbons that coiled on my cutting board as I started to peel the carrots, and decided to make a salad instead.

Tangerine juice is super-sweet, especially so after reducing to a light syrup. It makes a pure, simple dressing when paired with olive oil and plays so nicely with carrots.

I can see this salad taking up residence on my table for the next few months; starting with Thanksgiving and all through the holiday season.

shaved carrots, tangerine and pomegranate

Yield: 2 - 4 servings

Multicolored carrots look absolutely beautiful in this salad, but of course regular carrots will work just as well. The easiest way to get a good pile of ribbons is to choose those that are about 7" long and 1 1/2 " in diameter. Also, look for tangerines that are juicy. Seedless clementines, which are perfect for eating out of hand, will not yield enough juice for the dressing.

Ingredients

  1. ¾ teaspoon coriander seed
  2. 3 juicy tangerines, such as Murcott or Satsuma variety
  3. 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
  4. 1 teaspoon honey
  5. Kosher salt
  6. 4 medium carrots (about 4 ounces each); scrubbed
  7. 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  8. Fresh pomegranate seeds

Instructions

  1. Put the coriander seeds in a small (5 - 8-inches) skillet set over medium heat. Toast about 5 minutes - just until the seeds become fragrant; remove from the pan.
  2. Halve 2 of the tangerines and squeeze the juice into the same skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce to 2 tablespoons.
  3. Coarsely crush the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle or by using the flat side of a large chef’s knife on a cutting board. Combine the coriander with the reduced tangerine juice, shallot, honey and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl.
  4. Peel the remaining tangerine and divide into segments; add to the juice mixture.
  5. If your carrots are especially hairy give them a quick surface peel with a swivel peeler and discard. Shave the carrots into ribbons, turning to include all sides (you’ll be left with a slender core, which is the cook’s treat).
  6. Pile the carrot ribbons into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add a good pinch of salt and gently massage with your hands to coat. Pour the tangerine mixture over and toss again.
  7. Serve the carrot salad with some pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/11/shaved-carrots-tangerine-and-pomegranate/

italian lemon slush

italian lemon slush cocktail

I can’t imagine there’s anything I wouldn’t love about the city of Venice. Since I haven’t been there yet I remain a vicarious traveler; picturing a sepia-colored city like no other, floating over an ancient network of canals, all those mysterious alleyways winding through a landscape of crumbling palaces.

Twenty-seven summers ago my best friend took off in the direction of Europe, with no real itinerary or return date. I’d planned up until the last minute to go with her, saving all my waitressing cash in a box under my mattress, but drama overrode – it became suddenly necessary that I break up with my then-boyfriend and find a new apartment. How unromantic!

lemon peel syrup for italian slush

Everything worked out fine in the end, but missing that adventure was my regret. In the middle of her travels, my friend called me from Venice; she was running out of money but still hoping I’d change my mind and meet her there in Italy.

I felt a tiny bit jealous that she was in a place I’d only ever dreamed about seeing, until she described the harrowing time she was having there; getting off the train alone in the middle of the night, finding the Piazza San Marco teeming with rats and also a few human ones intent on stealing her backpack and who knows what else.

It can happen in any city anywhere, but somehow, knowing it was less than paradise at that moment in Venice made it a little easier to accept what I was missing.
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