There's a huge benefit to eating raw food that has also been sprouted. According to raw foods specialists, Angela Hofmann and Leah Baigell, sprouting many raw foods releases more of the inherent nutritional components that would otherwise be inaccessible to us humans. I never knew that. And they're not talking just alfalfa sprouts. They sprout all kinds of nuts and seeds before combining them into their delicious creations. Read the full article here.... And pick up the latest edibleBOSTON Magazine at your favorite local foods business. For a list of where to find a copy check out .......
One of the pleasures of my job as a writer is interviewing interesting people. It is an added bonus when they are also nice! Sue Rubel is just that person. Sue runs Nobscot Artisan Cheese in Framingham, Massachusetts. I visited her one breezy summer day and wrote a story about her and her amazing artisan cheese for Edible Boston magazine. Here is a link to the story in the magazine which has just been published. The picture above is of the magazine's cover. Enjoy...
As I write this from my home in Massachusetts, my cell phone sits on the sink-top of a bathroom in the Mionetto Winery in the Veneto. I left it there last week. The staff at the winery has promised to mail it to me.
It was a week in Venice, a week of lasting images—stone, and narrow, hushed alleys, never perpendicular, never at right angles, ending in a breathtaking scene here, an ancient piazza there.
We rented a palazzo on the Grand Canal, my husband and I, and two of my sisters and their husbands . From our tall windows above the canal, in our piano nobile, we watched the world pass by; the vaporetto stopped just feet from our door, and we all got along.
The palazzo was graced with 20 foot ceilings and long,
leaded glass windows. It was decorated with Japanese scrolls and numerous old paintings, with antique carpets, inlaid furniture and intricate boat models.
Murano glass chandeliers hung in every room. It was a little like living in a museum but with ample space so that we never felt we might knock into a priceless objet d’art.
The city is made for wandering. We got lost a lot. If you’ve been to Venice, I’m sure you’ve been lost, too. I've witnessed Venetians themselves asking for directions.
It's not immediately obvious, but there are no cars in Venice. No scooters buzzing by, no streets at all. Just sidewalks and canals.
When you step off the train or the bus or boat from Mestre on the mainland, as you must do, onto the island-city that is Venice, you enter a 500-year-old world. There is not merely an historic district, which, typically, tourists seek and gravitate toward—but an entire city that is an historic district. There is no urban sprawl or blight, no suburban Venice. That’s all on the mainland and stays on the mainland.
I found puzzling that there is very little police presence in Venice. There appears to be no one minding the priceless artworks, the crowds in the ancient piazze, the crumbling palaces and astonishing churches. Even the vaporetti seem to set their own rules for speed and navigational protocol, that is, no rule at all.
At the famed Peggy Guggenheim museum in Dorsoduro on the Grand Canal, tourists entered from outside and exited directly to the outside through doorways in the galleries themselves, doors which were opening and closing constantly, exposing the artwork to whatever the weather happened to be at that moment. I asked a guard about that and she told me that they do control the humidity, and most of the paintings are under glass.
But outside, I watched as a group of high school students on a field trip, cigarettes in hand, draped themselves over one of the marble garden sculptures (it could have been a Giacometti or a Goldsworthy or a Max Ernst) and took pictures of each other. Try that in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner or the MFA.
Yet here amidst the Jackson Pollacks and the Picassos, the de Koonings, and Magrittes, no museum personnel seemed to be on high alert, or even concerned.
And again, at the Scuola Grande of Saint Roch, and at the accompanying Church of Saint Roch, where the walls and ceilings are completely covered with Tintoretto canvases, it is easily possible to rub up against the images as you ascend the stairway to the next gallery-- they are only inches from the handrail you slide along, and are protected only by sleepy, indifferent guards.
At the train station there was no one collecting tickets, neither in the station nor on the train itself. Strange…
and had a look at the lace-making industry there. The real stuff is prohibitively expensive, at least for this crowd, and the stuff we could afford looked too familiar. But, as was always the case on this trip, lunch was another high point, celebratory and delicious—celebratory because we were a family sitting down to a meal together in a family that loves to eat together and celebrate food;
and delicious because you can’t really get a bad meal in Venice, unless you don’t like seafood. Seafood is on every menu, every bar menu, every cichetti plate. It’s generally fresh and well-prepared.
We pretty much stuck together as a group, and established a daily routine of sight-seeing in the mornings, coming together for lunch, walking and shopping until returning to the palazzo for naps and showers or reading, or checking emails from home.
On Wednesday, by pre-arrangement by my brother-in-law,Vin (no pun intended), who works for a major wine importer, we ventured off to the Veneto, to the land of prosecco production. We had an appointment with the management of the Mionetto Winery
for a tour of the winery and the vineyards, and a lunch where we would sample Mionetto’s various sparkling and still wines. If the winery tour had been first, followed by lunch, I might not have left my cell phone in the winery’s bathroom.
But lunch was first, and a wonderful one it was too.
We met the Mionetto staff, Pietro, Elena and Maria Teresa, at the lovely Trattoria alla Cima in the hills of Valdobbiadene, in the DOC zone of prosecco wine cultivation.
"Alla Cima" means on the peak, and the restaurant is situated on the crest of a hill below which are the beautiful prosecco vineyards; a view of the foothills of the Alps is in the far distance.
The Mionetto staff explained the history of the area and of the recent (in 2009) name change of the grape “prosecco,” to the more historic name, “glera.” The change was intended to protect the historic zone and the name of prosecco, since it is the name of the grape and the wine.
For a clear explanation of prosecco and the changes that have occurred in the region see Tom Cannavan’s excellent blog on the subject.
One of the wines we sampled was a new product for Mionetto called "il Spritz."
Named after the aperitif of the same name, so popular in Venice and gaining popularity in the US, il Spritz is a combination of the bitter liqueur, Aperol, sparkling water, and sparkling white wine. In Venice, a spritz is served before dinner and is traditionally made by combining all four ingredients at the bar. Mionetto hopes to market this pre-mixed spritz to US consumers starting this summer. We were tasting this product pre-launch!
In the evenings our main goal was to decide where to eat. We seldom consulted a guide book but usually took our chances and returned to interesting places we had found earlier in the day.
Toward the end of the week, when most of us had our bearings, we ventured out on our own. We visited lots of churches, one more astonishing than the next. We never returned home the same way twice but always knew we had entered our own calle when we saw the mannequin with the plaid trousers in the window of a clothing store just up the way from our palazzo. When we saw the plaid pants, we knew we were home.
Tonight is our "marriage group" meeting and dinner, and I'm bringing Key Lime Pie.
Twenty-five years ago, when my husband and I thought we needed to improve our marriage (which really didn't need improving in retrospect-- compared to the jolt we could use today), we attended a weekend couple's marriage therapy group. Eight of us (four couples) formed a splinter group, and still meet quarterly-- a testament to either our deep connection to each other, or to just plain inertia. In these 25 years, despite one couple's relocation (first to New York then to Maine), 3 deaths (one original husband/wife team is gone, completely gone; and another husband--dead), a birth (my daughter Elly, now 25), and a divorce (although the divorcee remarried, brought her new husband into the group, and he died), we have persisted--remarkable; enough to mention in a Key lime pie recipe blog.
But what's most remarkable is that out of those 4 couples who began meeting weekly in 1980, there remains
So, since this is a blog about Key lime pie, the dessert I'm bringing to tonight's "marriage-group dinner" as we've come to refer to it, the pie needs to serve at least 4.
The first thing I have to say about making key lime pie is don't use Key limes! If, like me, you try to use only authentic ingredients in your cooking, give it up. Buy the bottled stuff, or if you must, buy conventional limes from the supermarket. In the end it won't amount to a hill of beans that you took the extra time (and gasoline to drive to the one and only place around that carries key limes in February) to painstakingly cut each wretched green ball in half and ream out shockingly few drops of juice at a time, taking upwards of an hour, to accumulate "1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons!"
Secondly, and another departure for me, if you can find graham cracker crumbs (I'm not sure these exist, but if they don't someone ought to market them), you won't have to beat the crap out of graham crackers in a plastic bag to make the crust. Just make sure the pre-packaged crumbs are fresh--check the sell-by date.
Third, Key lime pie is not green--it's yellow!
There are a zillion key lime pie recipes on the Internet--this is a version of one of them that, with packaged crumbs and bottled juice, is a snap.
For one 9" pie--serves 6
1 and 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, or 10-11 double graham crackers smashed into not-too-fine crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Key lime juice, or a whole bag of reamed and tortured Key limes
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, beaten to firm peaks (adding sugar to the cream is optional; the pie is sweet enough so you don't notice the absence of sweetness in the whipped cream).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl with a fork, stir together the crumbs, the sugar, and the butter until well-combined. Press mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie plate--glass works best.
Bake crust in middle of oven for 10 minutes, cool on a rack. Leave the oven on.
Whisk together the milk and the yolks in a bowl until well-combined. Add the juice and whisk again until well-combined. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven for about 15 minutes. Cool pie on a rack (filling will set as it cools) and when completely cool chill covered for at least 8 hours.
With an electric mixer, beat cream in bowl until it holds firm peaks and spread on top of pie, or serve a dollop on each slice.
Isn't it gorgeous?! It's hot off the presses, as they say. It isn't even on-line yet. I think this is one of the best covers yet--another Michael Piazza winner.
My article (Occupy Pearl St.) for this season is kind of stuck in the back but it's still worth reading, if you're interested in how farmers markets really run. If you want to read the article online, you'll have to wait for the digital version of the magazine, unless you subscribe, or find the magazine at Whole Foods or at one of the dozens of businesses throughout the Boston area that display the magazine.
There are recipes for a Hot Toddy and for gingerbread--things to get your holiday started.
November 17th. A damp, gray, chill afternoon; first day so far this year that it actually feels like it’s getting on to winter.
Time to bake a cake.
I don’t do much baking anymore. There are so many good bakeries around, why bother.
But today I feel the urge.
A quick look through my most obliging cookbooks (meaning that most are dust-covered or falling apart or in hard-to-reach places) turns fruitless—too many pies and cooked-fruit desserts, which I love but am not in the mood for. So I haul out my personal recipe file—a manila folder
(does anyone say “manila” anymore?)
stuffed with stained and fragile recipes, loosely organized in paper-clipped bundles. It is a treasure, this folder, full of a life-times’ worth of curated works.
I find the one for chocolate cake.
It’s written by my hand, in red pen, on a small sheet of stationary. The sheet has a logo at the top that says Stop and Go Transmissions, and a cartoon-looking picture of a 1970's traffic light. Within the red light at top is the word "stop," and written inside the green light is "go." “Transmissions are our business—our only business. Free Pickup—Free Towing—Free Delivery,” is the tag line. It was a business my father owned—seems it always comes back to my father.
In 1979 when my father was about 55 years old, with a couple of kids still at home (5 were already grown-up), he bought a Stop & Go Transmissions franchise. The timeline is a little murky because he changed businesses so often. We all thought he was nuts—he knew nothing about cars; he was a restaurant & lounge kind of guy, a "Dewar's & water" man, as my brother Joe described him once. In the 2005 eulogy to my father, Joe
Lover of the long shot big Cadillac dreamer double-breasted suit wearer money loaner story teller risk taker hell of a guy...
But my father insisted that this business would provide the big pay-out--next stop: easy-street.
The business was pretty successful for a while, but he was restless—he tired of it after five years, and moved on to buy the Elbow Room Lounge. That’s where I bartended for a while, and met Half-Man and Texaco Jack (but that’s another story).
Some time not long after this era, I acquired the recipe for this chocolate cake. I have no idea where the recipe came from and no recollection of writing it down. But I’ve made it a thousand times and it’s always good; pretty easy, too.
I bet you have all the ingredients on hand right now to make it. Who doesn’t have cocoa powder (there’s probably a can of it kicking around somewhere in that pantry), or eggs, baking soda, sugar, salt, flour, vanilla?
My sister Susan, a great cook, makes her own vanilla extract and gave me some as a birthday present. Standing inside the little medicine bottle is a real vanilla bean.
I wanted to use-up lots of pantry items before replenishing my stocks for Thanksgiving cooking. So I added in chopped hazelnuts, walnuts and dried Medjool dates—just a handful of each, even though the cake could have used more. I didn’t adjust the proportions of any of the other ingredients and the cake was great.
I made two, one for home and one to take to my daughter in New York. She's a starving young actress—which is yet another story.
Stop & Go Chocolate Cake
1 well-buttered 9" or 10" bundt pan (adjust cooking time accordingly)
In a saucepan on the stove top bring to boil
1 stick of butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli's)
In a mixing bowl combine
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
(and any dry ingredients in your pantry you'd like to add)
Combine the two mixtures and beat with electric mixer until well mixed.
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream (I didn't have either so I used plain yogurt)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
On the day we left Venice there were seven cruise ships (7!) docked at the Porto di Venezia, a short walk from the apartment Jerry and I were renting. The ships had names:
The Happy Dolphin,
names that conspire to transport you away from the reality of being on a boat with thousands, all clamoring to get out and onto the slender, temporal islands of Venice.
The ships are massive: towering white behemoths out of all proportion to the delicate scale of the city.
Their wake dredges the canals; the backwash erodes the ancient walls and wooden foundations of the city. You watch them move slowly, mirage-like, across your line of vision, blotting out the serene landscape as they go.
They are part of the reason Venice is sinking and ironically, grudgingly, the reason it still floats.
The number of tourists the boats steadily disgorge make up part of the 20 million that visit Venice every year, keeping it relevant despite its rising cost of living and scarcity of jobs.
Venice is (roughly) only twice the size of Central Park and has a population of 270,000, give or take.
Tourism is not a reason to not visit Venice. You just have to have a strategy: choose a good time to go, and stay away from Piazza San Marco (and do read John Berendt’s book, City of Falling Angels, first).
We went at the end of September, figuring it would be the tail-end of the tourist season, but we were wrong. One hotel keeper I spoke to told me that there really isn't a "season" any longer. Tourists come all summer long (she said with a little repugnance), and they continue to come in autumn because it’s not so hot. But the city is inundated at Christmas time, too, then again for Carnivale in February, for Easter in April--and then it’s summer again.
There’s little down time for Venice—you just have to deal.
And we did. It was wonderful. I would go back today if I had the chance.
Venice is what the word awesome was meant to describe. Everywhere you look you see a Renaissance tableau, familiar in a sense, but realizing that this is the real thing makes you giddy. Landscapes of spires and ancient stone, palaces, velvet and old wood, shimmering water—these scenes surround and follow you wherever you go.
What you don’t see or hear are cars—you know there are no cars in Venice, don’t you? There are no roads, only canals, only boats. It is disarming to be in the midst of a major city, teeming with tourists and street vendors and side walk cafes and of course all those cruise ships, and yet hear no normal street noise, no cars, no buzzing scooters.
It dawns on you gradually, this absence of motor sounds. Walk a little way away from one of the large canals and all is quiet, hushed, conversations are intimate, everyone is whispering secrets.
We walked a lot. The weather was perfect.
We mostly stumbled upon things-- a concert of Vivaldi in the beautiful Chiesa San Vidal;
a Roshashana Service in progress in the Venetian Ghetto which included the blowing of the shofar;
the restored Gran Teatro La Fenice (the opera house which burned down in 1996 which we had read about in great detail in Berendt’s book); and the pluperfect fifteenth-century church, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, a miracle in marble thanks to the painstaking 10-year restoration by Save Venice.
We bought 3-day passes for the vaporetti and were able to take these water shuttle boats anywhere, getting on and off as often as we pleased. On one cloudless warm day, we took a vaporetto all the way to the island of Torcello, sailing out past the Lido, past Murano and Burano.
Torcello is the tiny island out in the lagoon, reached after an hour’s vaporetto ride, including several transfers.
The island’s main attraction is the seventh century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the oldest building remaining in all of Venice. Inside are golden Bysantine mosaics which tell the story of the ancient Eastern Church. Photos are not allowed, as the young guards remind us repeatedly each time another visitor points a camera—“No photo… No photo,” comes the weary reprimand, and I wonder how many times a day this poor student has to repeat this.
On Torcello, we ate lunch at a surprisingly large but mostly empty, beautiful restaurant called Ristorante Villa ‘600. I didn’t ask what the ‘600 meant; maybe that was the seating capacity. It had an expansive lush lawn for weddings and events, a large open-air dining room, and a patio. We ate on the patio, in the warm, autumn sun.
The staff spoke no English but were very friendly and happy to have us. The restaurant menu makes use of all the local fish that is readily available from the Adriatic. We did, too.
One of the items I noticed listed on many of the restaurant menus in Venice was Baccala Mantecato. I had never had baccala--that leathery-looking, completely unappealing package of dried cod you see occasionally in the market. But since it kept showing up in Venice I figured it must be a local specialty and worth trying. I’m so glad I did because it’s delicious; a fantastic appetizer. It’s prepared as a sort of spread for crusty bread, or on top of a slice of grilled polenta. It’s light and fluffy, very white, and very flavorful. Paired with a young Tocai Friulano, it makes a perfect small meal.
Here is a recipe for it, with thanks to dishdujourmagazine.com, followed by a few more of photos taken with my "smart" phone.
½ lb. skinned, boneless salted cod
4 cups milk
1 chopped clove garlic
1 cup evoo
¼ cup cleaned, chopped Italian parsley, stems removed
Soak the fish in cold water for 48 hours in refrigerator. Every 6 hours drain and change the water to remove the salt. After the first day, cut up the fish into small chunks.
After the chunks of fish have been soaked, drained and dried completely bring the milk to a boil and add the fish. Once the fish has been added lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the milk, but don’t discard the mild, and place fish into a colander to drain.
Place the fish into a large mixing bowl, add the garlic and most of the parsley. Using a hand held mixer on high speed, thoroughly blend ingredients. While continuing to mix, drizzle in the olive oil until the texture is a white creamy paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to mix on high speed adding as much of the milk as needed to attain a creamy and fluffy texture. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve at room temperature.