‘Tis another cold, cold day and schools are close for the second, third, and now fourth day in a row after twin snow storms leave a glaze of ice on roads and sidewalks, making it impossible for busses and children to hold their ground. A northern wind makes the chilled air chillier and the ice more stubborn. And so I work from home again, after sleeping in of course. Last night sleep did not come so easily. Perhaps I had virtual indigestion from all the cooking shows playing on TV in the background while I worked at my laptop. The feeding frenzy began with a chef guest appearance on a local news show for Ricotta Gnocchi Pomodora. So easy! “Be sure to put little dimples in your gnocchi to hold the sauce like Italian grandmothers do!” he says. After Googling his restaurant and finding just okay reviews and an awkwardly formatted recipe, I found a lovely recipe for the same by rising star cutie chef Nick Ritchie, appearing on a cooking show of his own later in the day. Can’t wait to make this for my boyfriend’s daughter who loves gnocchi.
Later Giada de Laurentis featured her beautiful Paninis. Having just returned a Christmas gift bulky Panini grill with my guy, it is a relief to see that all we need is a lightly oiled griddle to make these hearty Italian sandwiches. “We eat with our eyes first,” Giada says and I have no problem devouring the goodies she makes right off the screen. First up Giada hollows out a beautiful loaf of Ciabatta, my favorite bread for its ability to hold sauces and melted butter and honey in its little air pockets. Next she fills the bread with Italian tuna, artichokes, and homemade tapenade. Yum. Surprisingly, she doesn’t grill the bread. I guess Panini means sandwich in Italian, grilled or otherwise. Next up, an open-faced PLT Panini for pancetta, baby arugula “lettuce”, and thinly sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, topped with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, all layered on top of a slice of crusty grilled bread spread with lemony mayo. Again, a beautiful presentation, as is Giada for that matter. I must ask though, does she really have to where such low, low tops while kneading, whisking, and bending over to put cookies in the oven? I keep being afraid the girl’s going to burn herself! It appears there are whole web pages dedicated to her assets and even this haiku:
A summer sausage
Mesmerized by olive breasts
Forgot what she baked
Pan over now to David Rocco, host of Dolce Vita. With his twin girls in a stroller looking on between naps, he casually whips up Crostone di Carpaccio over an outdoor fire with a beautiful Italian vista in the background. His catch phrase is, “I’m not a chef, I’m Italian.” Having fun with food, people, fresh ingredients, and beautiful locations is his thing. What’s not to inspire? Today he made Mussels alla “My Way” meaning the way his dad made them for him growing up. I love steamed mussels and want to give these a try. Am curious about the red wine vinegar though…maybe cooking sherry would be good as well?
Then there is Jamie Oliver with his adorable British accent and lisp. Everything he makes is just “brilliant” with drawn out l’s. He has such a boyhood joy and enthusiasm that you can’t help but smile. Jamie does love an eggy crumpet with brown gravy, particularly if he has a hangover–his “cheeky” version of eggy bread. (Speaking of eggs, did you know that a perfect poached egg is helped along by “acidulating” the poaching liquid with white rice vinegar or lemon juice, a tsp per cup of water. So says Alton Brown while hosting Iron Chef and admiring Bobby Flay for doing just that. Evidentally it helps to contain the shape of the egg.) But I digress. Back to Jamie, I do admire his recent campaign for a School Food Revolution with a mind to bring healthy, fresh foods into schools for lunch, although our cafeteria lady is not such a fan. “Do you know how long it takes to chop those potatoes and cut that chicken up?!?” she laments. Sadly, school meals are prepackaged, heat and serve nowadays. Pizza dipped in ranch dressing is every kid’s favorite. They did love that one local and organic meal of chicken, roasted potatoes, and blueberry crumble, though.
School lunches aside, viewing these culinary indulgences while on the lap top led me to visit Pinterest to upload the recipes and a few others in the process: creamy mushroom soup, sweet and spicy citrus tilapia, lemon-blackberry tarts. I worked up an appetite just looking at the delectable photos and scanning ingredients lists. What shall I make first? A veritable quandary, for sure. Perhaps that is why my favorite Portland restaurant chose this as their name. So many recipes to test, tastes to try, and foods to share.
Usually we stock our cupboards with food when snow storms threaten. This go round, my recipe larder is full. I know just what to stock my pantry with when the next storm, or thaw for that matter, rolls round.
So, how do you spend your snow days? And what are your favorite cooking shows?
- Snow and Dreams of Parmesan Treats (newenglandpetguide.wordpress.com)
- Snow Day in Seattle (yarnovermatter.com)