December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

It really takes very little to be happy, sometimes just a bowl of hot broth and some pasta.

Usually I make the Bollito Misto dinner for xmas, as it is simple to prepare and provides us with several meals.

There are also other dishes I make in winter for Andrea that take a long time to prepare, like cardoons.

The cardoons, which look like a white celery, but taste like artichokes, are hard to prepare in that it takes a lot of time. First you must remove the stringy part, cut into pieces and let sit in water with lemon so they don't brown. Then they are boiled. You can then flour and fry and then bake in either butter and cheese or with a tomato sauce and cheese. But my new recipe which I got at the local shop, is to mince them up and make into small "meatballs" bread fry and then cook in tomato sauce stovetop.

Luckily cardoons are in season in winter when I have more time to cook!

This year, Andrea asked me to make a lamb tajine. Ok, the truth is he watched Nigella's Christmas and that is what she made. So who am I do be outdone by Nigella? I am going to use a recipe I did before from Paula Wolfert and tweek it with the garnish from Nigella's recipe.

I am going one step further and even "rolling my own" couscous.

My first lesson, so to speak, was with the Goddess of all things Moroccan, Paula Wolfert, years ago in California. She was prepping a dinner party at Ramekins cooking school and in the back kitchen making the couscous while I was there teaching. I stayed on and watched her rolling the couscous. I love simple preparations which are almost zen-link in their repetition.

While on my Sicily tours, I have added lessons on making couscous. I have made cuscus, as it is written in Sicilian, with  Pino Maggiore one of the best chefs in Trapani, where fish cuscus, is the local specialty.

I am going to use my huge sicilian plate I bought years ago, which I found out is for rolling the couscous and put it to use today!

In dialect, it is called a mafaradda. 

I went down to Florence and did some shopping at a local arab butcher shop and picked up the semola to make the cous cous and also harissa and some tahini for hummus.  If I have time may also whip up some pita bread and go all out.

To me, the greatest gift is the gift of time. Time to spend cooking and sharing food. Taking time to eat together. Nothing you can really buy, but perhaps actually costs more to some people, instead of shopping.

I wish you the gift of TIME.


  1. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Buon Natale e Buon Capo D'anno. Auguri xo

  2. Cathy5:16 AM

    what a beautiful sentiment Judy! As my kids get older I look forward to having more time to cook.... Buon Natale!

  3. I hope you and Andrea have a very Merry Christmas!

  4. Ciao Judy! This post warms my heart and my tummy! I have never heard of cardoons before. Do you know whether they are available in the States? Buon Natale! -- Michelle

  5. there should be cardoons in USA- look for italian markets- where do you live?