After years of world travel and dining out in everything from hole-in-the-wall joints in Laos to the finest finery of Paris's restaurants, the real food luxury for me when I travel now is to cook in, using the most simple ingredients, listening to local radio, and serving on the most grandmotherly plates.
Recently while on the road, I made a version of a salad that I love at the height of summer: shaved zucchini with Parmesan and olive oil. When it's too hot to cook and all you have is a vegetable and a hunk of cheese, this is your new go-to dish.
Lately it's been hot as all get-out in New York and this week the pilot light went out on my range, so I feel like I'm completely ensconced in no-cook cooking.
One of my favorite ways to feel like I'm getting a good dose of vitamins and protein without turning on the stove is a simple dish with slabs of tomato and anchovies marinated in vinegar, known as boquerones. Sometimes it's enough for lunch, sometimes even dinner with a hunk of bread and a good cheese. Here's a version that gets dressed up with bread crumbs, basil and red onion.
Seasonal, vegetarian, farmer's market–driven cooking lessons taught by a personal chef in Riomaggore, one of the picturesque towns of Cinque Terre, Italy, overlooking a never–ending clear blue ocean? Si, grazie! Tim McDiarmid led myself and a few other eager "mangionas" (Italian for "eaters") in an unbelievable culinary class last week. The finished meal and the landscape came together in what can only be described as la dolce vita. Salute to the good life! Read on for a peek at this delicious class, and some tips from Tim on putting together a marvelous meal.
Truffles! What else on this earth is hunted morning, noon and night in lush forests by men, women, children and dogs with the tenacity of Holy Grail seekers? I'd venture to say not a thing. Join me and the father-son team, Luciano and Christiano Savini, as we romp through the forests of Tuscany in search of this rare, precious, and mysterious fungus. (Oh, did I mention these two were the ones who received the Guinness Book of Records award for largest truffle ever found?)
Spaghetti alla Carbonara: when it's good, it can make your eyes roll back in your head with pleasure. It lurks there, beckoning, batting its eyelashes on Italian menus. When you don't order it, you usually end up wishing you had.
Do you ever make it at home? Seems easy enough, right? It's basically just bacon, eggs, and pasta. But like most things with few ingredients, there is a technique that binds all the magic together and if you don't have really great ingredients and a grasp of a few key pieces of technique, you'll be let down — possibly with scrambled eggs on your pasta.
To help you avoid this bummer and give you the opportunity to experience a classic in its greatest form, I spoke to several ace chefs and got the scoop on how to make really authentic spaghetti alla carbonara.
When it comes to pairing wine with food, I don't know that there's a pair I like much better than a big plate of pasta with red wine sauce and tender, aromatic homemade meatballs — paired with a bold and delicious Chianti, of course. It's a classic setup, a staple of Italian-American restaurants, and comfort food extraordinaire. Here's the recipe for the meatballs I cook when I want to make certain members of my family extra, extra happy — and a tangy tomato and red wine sauce too.
Ramps: Those tender wild onions, shot with pink and flopping over every table at the spring farmers' markets. They are a symbol of spring cooking — but what do you do with them? I often pass them by, glad for their symbolic welcome to spring, but happier with heartier leeks and onions. Well, this spring I decided to really open my arms to ramps — and I remembered that the simplest ways are often the best. Here's perhaps the easiest, tastiest way to enjoy ramps: Spaghetti pan-fried until golden with tender ramps and fragrant mint.
How would you describe balsamic vinegar to someone who's never had it? You could mention that it's made from pressed grapes like wine. You could describe how well its sweet-tart flavor pairs with summer tomatoes and fresh basil. But at the end of the day, you just have whisk it with some olive oil, toss it with some greens, and hand over a fork.