Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Year in Review

Of course the year is not quite over -- 2012 still has a good few months left in it -- but I might as well get these up now, while I have time and am thinking of it and before the school term starts up and things get crazy again.  Here are some of my favorite things since the start of the year:

New Year's menu at my parents' house. This is how we roll. (Once a year, at any rate.)

Easter brunch: just-picked asparagus, baby beets, crumbled ricotta salata.

I found a cardoon at the market! Look how enormous it is!

After pulling off the leaves and cutting the stalks into manageable portions, this is what was left.

And after trimming away the spongy outsides and getting down to the tender, edible heart, this is all that was left. I braised it in chicken broth, with garlic and fresh herbs; delicious.

My dad's university offers a cooking class for undergrads, and my mom is one of the instructors. One of my visits coincided with the Italian food class, so I checked it out. Project of the day: breaking down an ENTIRE WHEEL of Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese. Fantastic!!

If only blogs could convey smell...when the wheel was cracked open, the whole room filled with that delicious, nutty, creamy Parmesan aroma. It was glorious.

A gift of plums from a coworker's tree: baked into a tart with frangipane. A big hit at the 4th of July picnic.

On my last visit to my parents I got to raid their garden for all this spectacular summer produce...

Several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, squash blossoms, every kind of herb...

The rainbow chard and new potatoes went into this lentil soup (a favorite family recipe). Seasoned with lemon juice and mint, also from the garden!

Delicious white nectarines from mom and dad's tree -- they made a killer sorbet.

One of my favorite tricks, which I learned on my last trip to France about six years ago: use a vegetable peeler to make "noodles" of tender young zucchini. These are tossed with toasted pine nuts, garlic, thyme, parsley and olive oil.
I'll try to update this thing on a more regular basis from now on.  Buon appetito!