Garden fresh, vine ripened, local tomatoes make me recall a vivid summer memory. My grandfather ("Nonno") on my mother's side used to tend a huge garden behind his house in Dorchester MA. He would take us back there to pick ripe tomatoes right off the vine and eat them like they were candy. They were warm from the mid-day sun and had a hearty aroma that only garden tomatoes have. My family made a tomato salad that everyone raved about - especially the rich juices that you sopped up with crusty Italian bread. (My Italian grandparents would say a dialect word that sounded like "woongie" to describe the sopping up ritual. I can't find the actual spelling anywhere!). I've done my best to resurrect those flavors in this recipe.
Blogging about our visits to the Southwest of the United States made me hungry for guacamole and tortilla chips. I reached for the best source of Mexican cuisine I could think of - Pati Jinich, host of Pati's Mexican Table on PBS. OK...I'll admit to having a crush on her too...her zest for life and love of food just sends me. This version has a special twist - roasted veggies to give it a smoky flavor. Pretty much all of the ingredients should have "or more to taste" after them - so I encourage you to experiment with the quantities.
For New Year's Eve we had a feast of home-cooked Asian dishes with Caroline & T, Caroline's brother Patrick (the one who visited us in Italy), and her good friend Angela who were visiting Austin from Richmond. We made Curry Triangles (using "Beyond" Beef), Pan Fried Vegetable Pot Stickers (from Trader Joe's), Scallion Pancakes, Vegetable Lo Mein, Fried Rice, and the hands-down favorite - Richard's Thai style Massaman Curry.
It's remarkably easy to make and uses a dutch oven rather than a wok. You can make it well ahead of time - it tastes even better reheated after sitting around in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Traveling through the South, it's tempting to sample biscuits at every chance. But more often it's a lazy Sunday morning when Nancy has a craving for them while she reads the Sunday papers in bed.
Richard came across this surprisingly simple and quick recipe (from America's Test Kitchen) that yields a consistently good result. Can you guess what the "Secret Ingredient" might be? Click on "Read More" to find out.
After spending so much time in Spain, we are hooked on "tapas". One of our favorites is "Gambas al Ajillo" (Shrimp with Garlic).
We like this recipe (adapted from the Boston Globe) that serves the shrimp on a bed of wilted spinach. The key to this is to avoid over-cooking: garlic can quickly turn bitter and shrimp can lose their crunch when cooked too much.
When done right the shrimp has just the right texture and garlicky oil is irresistible - so have plenty of crusty bread on hand.
While we were in Spain one of our favorite Tapas was a steaming, salty plate of "Pimientos de Padrón". We would often stop into green grocers and check to see if they had any in stock and made them for ourselves as a quick and easy snack or tasty appetizer.
Like Shishito Peppers - which are a perfect alternative and easier to find in the USA - every now and then you will get a hot one. The waiter at a sidewalk restaurant in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria joked, "If you get a hot one I have to charge you double!"
Recipes from the Road
Click on recipe title or “Read More” to see the full recipe and demo video