I have consolidated this blog into my website “CookingwithRosetta.com”. This domain will be closed in a few months but you will find all the old and new posts on the home page of my website. I look forward to getting back to blogging and sharing new recipes with all of you.
After many requests, I have decided to take all of you on a tour of my vegetable garden so you can see what it looks like. Watch the video below to see my Calabrian orto (garden) that grows in the Oakland hills.
Now is the time of the year when anchovies show up at the fish market. And it’s also the time when wild fennel grows in California. During May and June I pick the fronds and use them in various dishes (here is a recipe that I prepared last year using wild fennel), but my favorite is a pasta dish that combines wild fennel with fresh anchovies. The recipe didn’t make it into my book, so I can give it to you! [click to continue…]
My garden is right at what I call the “transition period” this time of the year: we are ending the winter garden, some of the spring vegetables are not quite ready yet for picking and we have yet to start our summer garden planting. The winter vegetables that are still around in my garden are broccoli rape, cavolo broccolo (also known as spigariello), cavolo nero (Italian kale) escarole and chicory.
Cavolo Broccolo (Spigariello)
The spring vegetables that are not quite ready yet for picking are peas and fava beans. [click to continue…]
It is the season when I make my candied orange peels to last for the entire year. I use them on top of cannoli, chopped in various desserts, and in my ricotta gelato; we even coat the ends with dark chocolate to eat as candy. [click to continue…]
Tuna preserved in olive oil is the pride of the Calabrian pantry. Most Calabrians that live near the Tyrrhenian coast preserve their own. My parents did not, since they lived inland, but were fortunate to be able to buy good tuna. At the end of every summer vacation we would spend in Calabria my son would have me pack as many jars as would fit in my suitcase. [click to continue…]
Thank goodness things have calmed down from the book tour. Now I can continue sharing recipes and telling you about the garden. But I would also like to hear from you about what you’d like for me to include in the blog: any particular kinds of recipes? More garden tips? More stories about Calabria? Let me know, and I’ll get right on it. [click to continue…]
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Tanti auguri di Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!
I just got back from New York and I have been busy getting ready for the Christmas Eve Feast dinner. Mom has been frying all day making grispelle, cuddurieddi and cannariculi.
If you missed me on the Martha Stewart baking show on Tuesday, click here to watch a clip of the show. Click on the “Peaches with cream” picture to see me making the “”Pesche con crema” with Martha Stewart.
It has been a very busy past month with the book signings that has kept me away from the blog. The big news now is that I will be in New York as a guest on The Martha Stewart Show on Tuesday, December 21 at 10 am. Check your local Hallmark Channel for times in your area. I will be demonstrating making the “Pesche”- whimsical little cakes that resemble a peach filled with pastry cream.
Here is a picture of the “Pesche” from my cookbook by Sara Remington.
I am excited to be in New York this time of the year and enjoy the holiday displays.
While I was in Calabria the first week of May, my parents planted tomato plants in my garden for me: 30 San Marzanos, a couple of Early Girls and few sweet red 100s, which are cherry tomatoes. The majority of the San Marzanos will end up canned in jars, although we do eat a few in salads and I bring them to use in my cooking classes when they are at their peak. (The tomatoes, not the classes!). All the other tomatoes we eat fresh off the vines. [click to continue…]
In the last month I’ve read many articles about ‘nduja. I am happy to see that people are finally discovering it.
‘Nduja is a fiery, spreadable sausage of smoked pork that is unique to Calabria. The most famous is ‘Nduja di Spilinga, which gets it name from the town in Vibo Valentia that has the largest production of this delicacy. It is now also produced by salumifici (salumi factories) in other areas of Calabria, but the people of Spilinga and all around the Monte Poro area will argue that their ‘nduja is special. Why? Because the ingredients include the sweet and hot peppers grown only in the area. [click to continue…]
It is that time of the year again, when my prolific zucchini plants start producing beautiful blossoms. I picked the first ones last week and since I planted six plants I pick lots of zucchini blossoms on a daily basis. So far I have enjoyed them stuffed and fried, one of my favorite way to eat them.
I promised you in May that I would post some pictures of how my vegetable garden looks after a month. Compare the photos in the previous post to those below to see the difference a mere four weeks make. It is amazing to see seedlings change into fully grown plants and start producing fresh summer vegetables. [click to continue…]
I spent the day helping my mom make bread. We make it just as we did when we lived in Calabria; in fact, my mother brought the starter from Calabria in her purse when we moved to California!
In Calabria my mother would make a large amount of bread, as much as 40 pounds, to last for a couple of weeks. Nowadays she kneads only 25 pounds of flour at a time, all still by hand. (That’s one reason why at 75 she still has great arms.) We eat some immediately, and freeze the rest. This lasts for a couple of weeks for both of our families.
When I lived in Calabria as a child I was surrounded by fig trees all around our farm, and I never could decide which type to pick from first. The best fig that is grown in Calabria is the “dottato” variety, known in this country as the “kadota” fig. These have a green skin with a golden interior. They are excellent fresh as well as great for drying, which is what my grandparents used to do with them. [click to continue…]
This is the time of year that I forage for wild blackberries, which grow wild here in Northern California. Luckily I don’t have to go very far to pick them: they grow all over the sides of a trail right behind my house. [click to continue…]
Since my last garden update in June a lot has happened in my garden. I have enjoyed fresh strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, romano beans and baby lettuce every day, and lots of wonderful figs. [click to continue…]
Growing up in Calabria spoils you for eggplant. The soil and hot weather are ideal there for it, but luckily we have similar weather here in California and I can grow them in my garden. After tomatoes, eggplant takes the top spot in vegetables in Calabria, and there are hundreds of ways of fixing it. I could probably write an entire cookbook on it. My favorite snack as a little girl during the winter was preserved eggplant, or melanzane sott’olio: sliced, cooked with vinegar, dried out for a day and then packed in jars with garlic, hot peppers, wild fennel and olive oil. It is still one of my favorite vegetables. [click to continue…]
As I promised you in the last post here is the recipe for the eggplant dessert that is prepared during August in towns along the Amalfi Coast. I’ll show you what all the steps look like, along with some commentary. The actual recipe will be below the photos.
First, the ingredients. Two eggplants, peeled and sliced thinly, and coated with flour: [click to continue…]
Here is the second recipe I promised you from my August cooking class menu, the one that uses eggplant from appetizer to dessert. This dish is a clever way to combine eggplant, pasta, and cheese in a beautiful presentation. It was supposed to be in my cookbook, but I already had too many recipes, so you’re in luck. [click to continue…]
In Calabria, eggplant is stuffed with different kinds of filling and cooked in different ways. If you’re serving it as an appetizer or side dish, you would use a simple filling. But a hearty filling, like the recipe below that we prepared in my last class, makes a substantial main dish. Most cooks fry or blanch the eggplant shells before stuffing them, baking the filled shells for only about 20 minutes. Because this recipe uses a filling with raw meat, and therefore requires a longer cooking time, it’s not necessary to cook the shells before stuffing them. [click to continue…]
In the month of August I’ve been able to enjoy eating romano beans, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplants, all from my own garden. Even my apple trees and my two grapevines are loaded with fruit. But because August was unusually cool here in the Bay area, some of the vegetables, like the tomatoes, didn’t start ripening until the end of the month, [click to continue…]
I am so happy with the tomato harvest that I want to share some of the photos of it. I will be using the tomatoes this Friday for my cooking class, “A Tomato Dinner from My Garden” and my students will have a chance to taste every variety that I grow. The rest of the tomatoes my mother and I will can on Saturday. [click to continue…]
The detailed recipe for canning tomatoes will appear in my upcoming book, My Calabria, but I think you will get a good idea of what is involved by just looking at all the photos below. [click to continue…]
I have had some students ask me how to save tomato seeds for next year’s planting. Last week when my mom was collecting tomato seeds I took a couple of pictures so you can see how she does it. It is actually a very easy task.
My mom has saved our tomatoes seeds ever since we moved to the Bay Area from Calabria in the 70s. [click to continue…]
This past weekend we had our annual wine-making day. We buy Zinfandel grapes from a farmer (no, we don’t grow our own grapes here in the Bay Area) and then crush them in my dad’s basement, which is where he makes and stores wine, and cures salumi. [click to continue…]
Here is my newest favorite pepper recipe that escaped my mom’s repertoire. I learned this recipe just last year when I was staying at Casa Janca, a rustic agriturismo near the fishing village of Pizzo, just northeast of Tropea. The owner, Rita Callipo, is a highly regarded cook [click to continue…]
I received an e-mail from a friend the other day asking me for advice on what she should plant for the winter months. This request prompted me to write about what is in my garden at this time of the year. It is fall in California but the days are still warm and some of my summer vegetables are still going strong; I am still picking tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. [click to continue…]
When I was growing up in Calabria my family never purchased cultivated mushrooms from the supermarket. My parents mastered the secrets of mushroom hunting at an early age. They knew where to look for them and which ones were edible and which were not. [click to continue…]
This is the time of the year when I have to buy some vegetables at the market. (My family lives off what we grow in our backyard until November.) All the summer vegetables are winding down in my garden, and I can start buying my favorite fall vegetable, butternut squash. [click to continue…]
As I promised you last week, here is my recipe for butternut squash soup, a dish that always shows up on our table on Thanksgiving day. It is extremely simple to make because it has only a few ingredients. If you can, make your own chicken or vegetable broth for it; it will make a world of a difference in the taste.
Cut the butternut squash in large chunks, removing the seeds. Place the cut-up pieces in a baking dish along with an unpeeled onion cut in half vertically and an unpeeled head of garlic, with its top cut off to expose the cloves.
Sprinkle with some fresh thyme and drizzle with olive oil
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 1 hour or more until soft.
Once cool, using a spoon remove the squash pulp from skin and place in a food processor with the onion (remove outer skin) and squeeze as many garlic cloves as you like into the bowl.
Puree until smooth.
Place in a pot and thin it out with 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth.
Sprinkle with a little bit of chopped parsley; or you can fry a few sage leaves and place them on top of the soup.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut 1/3 inch off the top of the garlic head, exposing the cloves. Arrange the garlic, squash and onion cut side up in large baking dish. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil. Scatter the thyme over the vegetables.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Uncover the vegetables and cool for 10 minutes.
Scrape the squash from the skin into the processor work bowl. Peel outer layers and trim root end from onion halves. Add onion to processor. Separate 6 garlic cloves from head and squeeze the garlic in the bowl. Puree the vegetables until smooth. Add more roasted garlic if desired.
Transfer the puree to heavy large pot. Wisk in 2 cups of chicken broth. Stir over medium heat until heated through, adding more broth if thinner consistency is desired.
Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley. You can serve the soup with crostini (toasted bread) spread with the remaining roasted garlic.
December is a month of many celebrations, both religious and secular. Often each celebration is accompanied by the serving of a particular food or dish. December 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Roman Catholic Church, and marks the beginning of the Christmas holiday season and its wonderful dishes in Calabria. My town also has a non-religious celebration that day, known as “Perciavutta” day. The word “percia” means “to make a hole” and “vutta” means“barrel”; [click to continue…]
December is the month for desserts in Calabria. Every year the season starts on December 13 with the festa di Santa Lucia. This is the day that many cooks start the fritture, the annual frying of yeasted dough for desserts. In some towns people prepare la cuccia, which is cooked wheat berries with nuts, mosto cotto and spices. [click to continue…]
Il cenone is the highlight of Christmastime at my house just as it is in Calabria.
A Calabrian Christmas Eve dinner usually includes thirteen dishes, and is always centered around seafood. The fish is mandatory because the Roman Catholic Church made the day before Christmas (la vigiliа) a day of fasting and abstinence from meat, and some authors speculate that the thirteen dishes represented food for Jesus and his twelve disciples. [click to continue…]
Buon anno 2010! This is the year that you can learn even more about Calabria from me. First of all, my cookbook My Calabria will be published in November. But just as important, I will be leading a culinary tour of Calabria at the end of September. This trip is for all you foodies! [click to continue…]
I have been busy reading my upcoming book’s first layout. I can’t believe it’s almost done!
I always feel that not a whole lot happens in my garden in the winter months, as things grow fairly slowly compared to summer, but if you look back to the November post you will see that indeed a lot has happened. [click to continue…]
My parents used to raise a hog in Calabria every year and right after New Year’s Day we would all get ready for the Annual Whole Hog Ritual. We don’t raise a pig in California, of course, but we still maintain the tradition of making our own salumi the old-fashioned way.
When it gets cold here in the Bay Area and it is drizzling we buy lots of pork meat and make salsiccia, sopressata, capocollo, pancetta and prosciutto. [click to continue…]
I just received a copy of my cookbook jacket and had to share it with you. It was such a surprise because I didn’t know which photo would be chosen. There were so many gorgeous shots taken by Sara Remington to choose from, but this really stood out. The cover says it all:
“Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South”.
Don’t try to order it yet because it’s not available until November 2010!
This is the third week in a row that I have found fresh sardines at Monterey Fish Market in Berkeley so I decided it was time to write about them. Every time I put fresh sardines on the menu for my cooking classes not many people sign up! If you’re like these students, then I hope that this post will change your mind.
If you are planning to start your vegetable plants from seeds, this is the time to begin, so that they will be ready for planting in 6 to 8 weeks.
This last week was when my parents started all the seeds for our vegetable garden. My parents never buy seeds; they always keep seeds from the previous year for planting in the next. In fact, all of our vegetable seeds came over from Calabria with us, in the early 1970s; they are truly heirloom varieties. [click to continue…]
What do you do when life gives you lemons? I make limoncello with the Meyer lemons from my tree.
Last week I made a batch of limoncello and crema di limoncello, which I learned to make from my cousins. In Calabria people make all types of liqueurs, infusing grain alcohol with different fruit, herbs, flowers, even hot peppers. (The most unusual liqueur I have ever tasted in Calabria was at Villa San Domenico in Morano Calabro where the owner had infused the alcohol with porcini mushrooms.) [click to continue…]
Take a look at the sales blad for my cookbook! “Blad” stands for “book, layout and design” and is used by a publisher’s sales and marketing department to sell into their various markets. Once you are at the website click below the cover page to browse through the 12 pages of the blad. This will give you a preview with some beautiful color photographs taken by Sara Remington.
Don’t try to order it yet because it’s not available until November 2010!
At Easter time, in my town of Verbicaro everybody baked a sweet bread that we called buccellati, also called cuzzupe, cuculi or cudduraci in other parts of Calabria. Thesesymbolic breads are decorated with whole eggs still in the shell. The eggs are nestled into the surface of the dough, held in place with criss-crossed strips of dough, representing the crucifix, and baked along with the bread. These decorative breads, symbols of Christ’s resurrection, are given to children, with boys receiving a braided loaf and girls a loaf in the shape of a doll. [click to continue…]
According to my mother, the only thing that was missing from my backyard was chickens. I am always talking about the eggs that I used to eat when I grew up in Calabria: the yolk was as orange as the sunrise and the eggs were so tasty that she would often whip a raw egg yolk with sugar and coffee for me as a snack.
The Calabrian town of Mormanno is famous for sweet pastry tartlets called bocconotti, a word that literally means “small bites”, because they can be eaten in one bite. They are traditionally filled with grape jam or cherry preserves and covered with pastry dough. I baked a couple of them with grape jam (mostarda d’uva) so you can see what they look like. [click to continue…]
My garden is a little behind from last May. The weather has been unusual for California this year, with lots of rain and cold. We have planted all the tomatoes, eggplant and romano beans, but have not planted our peppers yet. Fresh peas are still on the vines because they were late coming out this year.
This is the time of the year for wild fennel fronds. Thank goodness that my parents moved to Northern California. I don’t know what we would have done without our wild fennel!
The wild fennel that grows here in Northern California is the same variety, finocchietto selvatico, as the one that grows on the coastal areas of Southern Italy. I foraged for some yesterday while hiking on a trail with my husband. [click to continue…]
June 24 is the day when people in Calabria and throughout Italy start the process of making nocino. June 24 happens to be San Giovanni’s day (St John’s day) and tradition has it that the green walnuts must be picked on this day to make the best nocino.
Nocino is a dark-colored liqueur with a hint of spice, and is typically served cold. It is considered a digestive in Italy but I like to use it in desserts. I make a walnut cake (the recipe will be in my book) that I serve with a custard sauce flavored with nocino and it is so good! I also drizzle it over ice cream. [click to continue…]
Last month I was worrying that my garden wasn’t doing as well as last year since the weather had been unsually cold for the Bay Area. But after taking some pictures today and comparing them to last year’s, I was amazed at how similar the garden is. After all that cold weather everything seems to have caught up to about where it was last year. But this year we have a new garden member: actual kiwi fruit on the vines! [click to continue…]
Someone asked me the other day how much food I typically get from my Oakland orto. Of course it varies depending on the time of the year, but during the summer I typically pick enough for family dinner every night. As an example I thought I’d show you what I picked from my garden today, July 22, 2010.
Here is one more recipe for you to use up all your zucchini. I created it back in the summer of 1983 for the first Zucchini Festival in Hayward, California. I knew that my pasta with zucchini and ricotta salata wouldn’t be a good choice so I came up with a recipe made with pureed zucchini. It almost looks like a pesto sauce. [click to continue…]
I have missed my favorite tomato salad until these past two weeks, when our tomatoes finally decided to ripen. This recipe was going to be in my cookbook but it didn’t make it in the last cut, so here it is for you to try. [click to continue…]
Today is the day I’m leaving for Calabria. Although my culinary tour starts next Saturday, September 25, I will be there a few days earlier to visit my relatives and recover from jet lag. I will be posting some photos from the tour either here or on the My Calabria Facebook Fan page.
Take a look at the itinerary to see what we’re doing each day. Gotta run.
The culinary tour ended today but I haven’t been able to add posts or upload any pictures because of the slow internet connection. Everyone on the trip thought it was a success, and the only complaint from them was that I fed them too much food. We did eat it all, tho’, since it was too good to leave on our plates. We all had a wonderful time cooking, foraging for mushroom, visiting various producers, wineries, produce markets, and we even checked out castles and churches along the way. [click to continue…]
Lots of things have kept me busy since I came back from my culinary tour in Calabria: my book launch happened last week and there is a book signing event every week from now until January. But I did promise everyone in the tour group that I would remake the dishes we cooked in Calabria and give them the recipes. So today, our first rainy day in the Bay Area, seems like a good time to start. Luckily most of the recipes that we cooked are in my book, but a few were new to me. [click to continue…]
Here is the second recipe that we prepared during the culinary tour.
When the tour group went foraging in La Sila mountains near Camigliatello, we found a distinctive type of mushroom called macrolepiota procera, which is known as mazza di tamburo in Italian and “parasol mushroom” in English. Here is a picture of one that I found on that day. [click to continue…]