January 9, 2008

Winter Whites


Something about winter, the soft light, the morning fog, the change of the color palate in the market that brings a different style of cooking into the home.

White is a predominate color in Italy with the white marble from Carrara reflecting light.
Rome's Trevi Fountain is a fabulous example.


Slow stews, twice cooking to infuse flavors, soups and casseroles to warm body and soul.

Winter to me is white with accents of the most incredible vibrant wild green salads and twice-cooked spinach, chard or broccoli with splashes of orange and yellow from the variety of citrus from the south.

I adore potatoes, roasted, boiled, mashed, in a soup or souffle and as gnocchi.
What about LARDO! Sliced and served on warm toasted bread,
or Dario Cecchini's Burro del Chianti, a ground lard "butter" which I use as such and add to baked potates, risotto and on pasta.

This week, I tended toward comfort foods from the market and low and behold, my plate is all white!

A true faux pas for many, but hey, it’s home cookin’!

Italy tends to “overcook” their vegetables, something I have come to love as a comfort food myself and makes even kids ask for more! The vegetables are first boiled in salted water, then drained and recooked in olive oil with some aromatics. A classic trilogy would be garlic, olive oil and chili pepper.

Tuscan white beans, stewed slowly in a clay pot, served as a stew with macaroni, instead of pureed in a soup.



The other white meat, a grilled pork chop, simply served with twice cooked chard, a squeeze of lemon on both brings in the sun to this dish.



Cauliflower is finished off with anchovies allowed to melt in olive oil and then topped with breadcrumbs and baked in the oven.



Fennel bulbs are fabulous eaten raw, Sicilian style, in a salad with slices of blood oranges and garnished with some of the feathery greens from the top of the plant and a generous portion on extra virgin olive oil a flurry of sea salt from Mozia , off the coast of Trapani and you are transported to the Island..as I will be starting on the 11th!


My husband loves his mother’s recipe of twice cooked fennel and it has become one of my favorites too.

Here is
Tina's Twice Cooked Fennel


Cut the fennel in half from top to bottom, leaving the firmer center.
Cut each half into wedges, I usually cut into 1/4's.
Bring a pot of water to boil lightly salt the water.
Cook the fennel until a knife can poke in easily.
Drain the fennel from the pot.

Cover the bottom of the pot with extra virgin olive oil.
Place the fennel back into the pot.
Reheat the fennel in the oil.

Top with a soft white cheese ( our cheese slices in Italy are white and melt easily)
a nice Monterey Jack or Fontina would be nice.

Sprinkle with oregano.
(this was a mistake, the oregano bottle fell in one day
and since has been a part of the recipe, a really nice accident!)

Cover the pan and let cheese melt on the fennel.
Turn off the heat.

You could also bake this dish.

Often twice cooked vegetables are boiled and then mixed with a white sauce ( bechamel) and topped with grated parmesan cheese and baked!
Another great comfort food!

When in Rome the other day with my friend Rosa
for lunch at the Taverno del Ghetto, white ruled again!

Fried Baccala, zucchini blossoms stuffed with sea bass and a artichoke
twice-fried as is the style in the Ghetto.

Done to perfection

I followed up with fried lamb brains, which were little clouds
served with fried artichoke wedges.



Dessert?
Coffee topped with a cloud of whipped cream at Tazza D'Oro



and from the "Chiccaio" the candy man, wonderful rich honey infused
soft torrone with toasted almonds and hazelnuts!

But now off to the island of Sicily!
Who knows what the trip will bring.

I am looking forward to exploring the fish market in Catania, shopping in Ortigia in Syracuse,
eating cous cous in San Vito
and the unknown adventures that happen when driving around!

Ci vediamo presto.

12 comments:

  1. Judy, I can't wait to see your pictures and hear about your Sicily experiences. We have been buying bag after bag of Sicilian blood oranges here in Malta and I'm going to try the fennel and orange salad tonight -- thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous3:28 PM

    Could you possibly post the recipe for twice cooked fennel? It's sounds wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  3. great post Judy - I see that course really paying off. LOL What a greta way to string together all of those wonderful foods. I've read that people in Italy will go on a 'white diet'. Is there any truth to that?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jerry,
    A "mangiare in Bianco" means to eat food without heavy sauces, white.. absence of red sauces.

    usually used for hospital style eating!

    so no condiments.... pasta with butter, broth, chicken breast etc!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Twice Cooked Fennel

    Cut the fennel in half from top to bottom, leaving the firmer center.

    Cut each half into wedges, I usually cut into 1/4's.

    Bring a pot of water to boil lightly salt the water.

    Cook the fennel until a knife can poke in easily.

    Drain the fennel from the pot.

    Cover the bottom of the pot with Extra virgin olive oil.

    Place the fennel back into the pot.

    Reheat the fennel in the oil.

    Top with a soft white cheese ( our cheese slices in Italy are white and melt easily) a nice Monterey Jack or Fontina would be nice.

    Sprinkle with oregano.

    Cover the pan and let cheese melt on the fennel. Turn off the heat.

    You could also bake this dish.

    Often twice cooked vegetables are boiled and then mixed with a white sauce ( bechamel) and topped with grated parmesan cheese and baked!
    Another great comfort food!

    ReplyDelete
  6. janie4:59 PM

    Love this post! We adore fennel and I will try it this way. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A White tour de force! What a fun reminder to eat your white vegetables, too (and those delicious looking lamb brains!).

    ReplyDelete
  8. All this great food! What can I say? I'm hungry!
    Have a great trip to Italy :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous6:10 PM

    Please blow a kiss toward Torre Faro when you're in Catania. My family lives there.

    ReplyDelete
  10. shannon7:41 PM

    Hi Judy,

    My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at Foodbuzz.com. I am very impressed with the quality of your posts and to that end, I’d like to invite you to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at Shannon@foodbuzz.com.

    And how did those lamb brains taste? I can't say I'm experienced in such matters, but I am a little intrigued. But what really got me excited was that torrone. I want to be in Italy. Right now. =)


    Cheers!

    Shannon Eliot
    Editorial Assistant, Foodbuzz.com
    shannon@foodbuzz.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. We always want to cook the best and the healthiest recipe that we can find from the internet. As a mother, I always want that and in able to keep up with those needs, I need to be focused and be creative. I always have Gourmandia on my side to give me the appropriate recipes for the day and for me not to reiterate the recipe that I did the other day! It’s just so innovative!

    ReplyDelete
  12. indeed very nutritious in winter.

    ReplyDelete