August 29, 2010

Why Travel?

Travel opens the doors of perception.

You begin to live in the open question, looking at the world and yourself with different eyes. Your awareness heightens and you see, feel and taste things that you have never seen, felt or tasted. You wake up as if you have been asleep and realize that you are living in a technicolor dream-like world full of wonder and beauty and sadness, yet, it surprises you how rich and moving the content. It stimulates your creative juices and all wishes seem possible.

August 7, 2010

Come Celebrate My Birthday in Tuscany, September 25-30. My Treat!

This fall, I am inviting all those who would like to spend 5 fabulous, festive days in the Tuscan countryside with me at La Cucina al Focolare a savings of almost $1500 To $2000 dollars (!).

I want to celebrate 18 years of "Cooking by the Fireside" and honor yet another year of coming together to connect culture and cuisine in the heart. I am usually traveling during my birthday and never get to properly celebrate. Why not this year? We'll cook, take walks, taste wines, visit markets and cafés. I want to spend time in meaningful conversation appreciating the taste and texture that is Italy and share that love. If you have been wanting to join me in Tuscany, but non cera la trippa di fare mangiare i gatti (there wasn't enough tripe to feed the cats), then now's the time!

Surprise! Celebrate good times, come on!

Come back or come anew to visit me, Piero, Carla and Pierre. We'll also give a tribute to Sandro, who we lost last February.

A tavoli non si invecchia mai!
"At the table one never grows old!"

Birthday special: Double $3000, single $3500 (from $4,594 dbl and 4,940 single)

For a taste of this place that is so close to my heart and my sense of home, read my blog on "Usho Bottega," Cibreo Café in Florence.

August 3, 2010

Zuppa di Pesce Panaresca

Zuppa di Pesce? si..but also Risotto Pescatore

Inside our sailboat the 'Swamy', cooking on a gimbled stove.
photos by: Hank Strauss

Zuppa di Pesce Panaresca
(Fish soup from the Aeolian Island of Panarea)

1 kilo of fresh prawns
3 fresh squid
1/2 kilo of vongole verace (clams)
2 red mullet
 a few cherry tomatoes
1 can of cherry tomatoes, peeled
olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
white wine
a bunch of parsley, chopped fine
salt to taste
pepperoncino (cayenne) a dash to taste

Peel the prawns, separating prawn from shell. Set the prawns aside. Bring a pot of water to a simmer and drop in prawn shells.

Clean and cut the heads off the mullet. Fillet the fish, cut into 2 to 3 pieces and set aside. Add heads and bones to the broth.

Rinse and tap the clams (looking for a "flat" sound that may indicate a shell without a clam but full of sand). Set aside.

Clean the squid by taking out what’s inside the tube. Peel off the thin outer layer. Slice into rings. Set aside.

Peel and flatten garlic. Rinse and dry. Chop parsley fine. Set aside. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and set aside.

Now you have your mise en place.

Put a generous drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of a large sauté pan. Add chopped garlic and simmer until barely golden. Add pepperoncino, half the parsley and the tomatoes. Stir until saucy. Salt and pepper. Strain and add the broth.

Heat a separate pot. Add some olive oil and a little garlic. Add the clams. Toss them in the hot pan, splash them with white wine and cover the pot with a lid. Steam for 3 minutes, or until the clams open and give up their liquid. Add to the pot. (Be careful not to let any possible residual sand from the pot liquor to slide in.)

Season prawns (or shrimp) and squid with a quick toss in a frying pan, with olive oil, parsley and salt. Set aside. Add to the pot. I like to season things separately before adding the pot, it deepens the flavor. Otherwise, you could just skip this.

Correct salt and pepper . Add the rest of the fish and fish broth if you have some leftover. Let it simmer to marry, but not so long to overcook the seafood.

Garnish with parsley. Serve with garlic toasts. Should be flavorful and spicy.

P.S. Broth can be used for making Risotto, shrimp and squid can be cooked right into the rice.
Scampi in the shell, clams, etc. can be added on top of the risotto before serving.

Learn more about our week-long culinary sailing program along Italy's Amalfi coast