Friday, June 22, 2012

La Bietola

Fresh swiss chard, bietola fresca. Can't you just see the vitamins! (I've included my hand as a reference to show you the size of the leaf.) Now, I was never a fan of this vegetable until I discovered it could be cooked in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes. Actually, everything tastes good cooked that way.  Here's how: Cut a few of the largest, most mature leaves from each plant, or alternatively you can find swiss chard in the veggie section everywhere this time of year.  Clean them well but don't dry them!  Cut them into one inch slices including the white stalk. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil into a pan, along with some sliced fresh garlic and red pepper flakes. Place the cleaned chard on top, cover and simmer on low heat until the water evaporates, usually 15-20 minutes.  Remove the lid, add a little salt and pepper and it's ready to eat.  Or, do what I do and continue cooking the chard until it browns and crisps just a little. It's like eating candy, not your vegetables!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cherries for a Friend

Thanks to the February Freeze earlier this year, we have had many successes in our garden.  Plants that have never bloomed did so this year.  Last year our cherry tree produced lots of cherries but they were small and not very sweet.  This year, although we had terrible winds when there were blossoms on the tree and there were less cherries, the cherries that remained were big and sweet!  I took a bag to a friend but before I closed the bag I couldn't resist taking a picture for the archives.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Asparagus Sformato

I considered titling this post "Sinful Sformato" because it's that delicious! A sformato is best described as a savory cheesecake without the graham crust. It's basically ricotta, egg and cheese to which you add whatever vegetable and herbs suit your fancy and the season. Very simple and very easy! I steamed my asparagus, but you could also saute any vegetable in olive oil. In a separate bowl lightly beat two eggs, add one cup of ricotta, a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix in the lightly cooked, chopped vegetable and pour into a greased dish. Bake until golden and set (approximately 45-60 minutes). Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.  And try not to eat the whole dish by yourself!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Piggy Picking

It's once again that time of year for Amore's family to purchase two pigs to fatten and ...  um .... slaughter.  That's life in the countryside in Italy and pretty much most of rural Europe.  The pigs are well-fed and well-cared for and then they're made into pancetta, prosciutto, sausages, and assorted other delicious products.  

There was a particularly pretty piglet that I fell head over heels for but Amore said I wouldn't be able to part with (read: eat) this little darling when it was time.  He's right, look at those gorgeous eyes!