July 23, 2011

Recipe: Pesce Mediterraneo

> 1 lb of fresh white fish
> 1 cup cherry tomatoes
> 1/2 cup black olives
> 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and sliced
> 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
> extra virgin olive oil
> a splash of white wine
> salt and pepper to taste (remember the olives)

or: use a bit of crushed red pepperoncino for pizzazz!

Rinse the fish and set aside. Chop cherry tomatoes in half. ‘Mise en place’ the  e.v.o.oil, olives, garlic, tomatoes, basil and fish.

Choose appropriate frying pan. Add olive oil, garlic and tomatoes. Toss around
in the pan for 5 minutes. Add olives and basil. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add fish on top of the sauce. .Salt and pepper the fish…or pop it with the pepperoncino. Splash the pan with the white wine. Cook on low-medium heat. Put on a lid and let it steam for 5 minutes.

Check your fish for doneness, but touching it. If it springs back, it should be done, along with an aroma of cooked fish. Flip the fish if needed, otherwise,
turn off the heat and let it steam for another few minutes. Check for flavor
balance, adding another pinch of salt if needed.

Serve the fish by spooning the sauce over it. Add a fresh leaf of basil for garnish.

July 21, 2011

Recipe: Ajo Blanco

Ajo Blanco: Chilled Spanish Almond Soup

Serves 4

> 1 slice of stale bread, crust removed
> 1/2 cup water
> 1 garlic clove
> salt
> 1/4 cup blanched almonds
> 1 Tblsp sherry vinegar
> 1/2 cup olive oil
> 2 cups ice water
> 24 grapes, green and seedless

Soak bread in water for 1 minute. Squeeze dry.
Pound garlic with salt into a paste.
Grind almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic, bread, and vinegar. With motor running, add oil and ice water. Blend well.
Force puree through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard solids. Refrigerate covered until cold, about 3 hours.
Before serving, season soup with salt and sherry vinegar if necessary. Serve topped with grapes.

Variation: Add shrimp as a topping or fresh edible flowers in addition to the grapes.

* Recipe via our chef on the Spain program, Kim Schiffer. Kim Schiffer has cooked professionally for 29 years. She has worked at Zibbibo in Florence and in California at Chez Panisse and Zuni CafĂ©, and has traveled and studied in Morocco with PMCA. 

* Photo courtesy The Wright Recipes.

July 10, 2011

Ventotene... No wind? I dare say, it's where the wind comes from.

Our first morning sail took us around to the south side of Procida, to see the panoramic pastel houses that grace the island, all bunched together like a bee colony.

Historically, the various house colors had a purpose. A sailor could spot his house from afar and see if his wife was waiting for him in the window.

Sunny with a bit of good wind, we calculated our sail to Ventotene, 16k away at 8-9 knots, to take 4 hours. Tony Tony, our captain, has a keen sense to head straight to where the wind is. An avid sailor, he rides the waves like captain Ahab rode his great white whale.

We are not talking huge ocean waves—but the Mediterranean can kick up some activity. The adventurous part of my culinary program is often accented with a few unexpected edgy experiences that keep our name valid. This undoubtedly puts a smile on some faces and a look of surprise on others.

July 7, 2011

Aperitivo Time!

Here are a few of my favorite aperitivi. 

I did not write this article, but compiled this info some years back and did not get the author's name. An English mixologist, no doubt...most unfortunate as it's well written. Enjoy.


1/2 orange slice
1 lump (or cube) sugar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
2 oz (60 ml) rye or bourbon whiskey

Muddle orange, sugar, and bitters in an old-fashioned glass until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Fill with large cubes of ice (or carve one large chunk to fit the glass, if you are a true classicist). Add the whiskey. If you must garnish it, tradition calls for a "flag"--an orange slice and a Luxardo Marasche al Frutto cherry (available at Dean & Deluca) paired together on a cocktail pick.

It's also the 150th anniversary of aperitivo, the most civilised ritual born in the Piedmonte capital of Torino. Aperitivo is the ancestor of the cocktail hour --the interval that marks the end of the work day and the beginning of the evening's activities. A glass of red vermouth and a tramezzini (small sandwiches), canape, or other amuse bouche forms the centerpiece of the ritual, which includes conversation and relaxation in a cafe or al fresco in one of the city's numerous colonnaded piazzas.

Two refreshing and appetite-stimulating concoctions arose from this ambient atmosphere: the Americano, created by Guiseppe Campari at his bar in Torino, and the Negroni, crafted by Gloomy Scarselli for Conte Negroni at the Bar Giacosa in Florence.

1 oz (30 ml) Campari
1 oz (30 ml) red Italian vermouth (Carpano or Martini & Rossi)
1 oz (30 ml) Plymouth Gin

Mallorca Photo Essay, from October 2010.

Paella ~ A Spanish brush stroke.