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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Farro Burgers! My New Favorite Food!

Last night, after going to the IMAX to see Star Trek Into the Dark in 3D (it was great) with my friends Debbie, Yayoi and Kylie we went out for some Middle Eastern food.  We walked up Broadway and decided to stop at Nanoosh for our first late night al fresco dinner of the spring.

There was a sign outside the restaurant saying "We Now Have Farro", so that's what we ordered.  I had Falafal over Farro.  Between almost every mouthful we one of us would comment about the delicious-ness of our meal. 

I was so happy that I brought a bag of Farro home with me from Italy and it was still in my refrigerator. YAY!  Today, it was raining and I didn't feel like going to the store, so I had to make something easy, just using ingredients I had in the apartment.  A Farro Burger!  Perfect!. And although you see that the shape isn't perfect (my 2nd attempt will be better), the taste was even better than I'd hoped.  Try them.  They're easy, healthy, and surprisingly nutty and flavorful.

Farro is an ancient grain that was probably the main sustenance of the Roman Armies.  It's grown mostly in parts of Tuscany and Abruzzo in Italy, where it is very popular.  And it's popularity here is growing fast.

Note to my friends who have gluten issues:  Farro is a whole wheat product.

Farro Perlato

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Alessio's Birthday Lasagna - - Lasagne Bianche ai Carciofi, Spinaci e Formaggi - - White Lasagna with Artichokes, Spinach and Cheeses

I had a real fear of artichokes.  I knew that I could never de-heart an artichoke without an artichoke
pro showing me step-by-step and then guiding me through it when I tried to do it on my own.  I thought that person would be Marie November.  She was the mom of my dear friend Ginger and she could cook some artichokes!  But, Marie is no longer with us, and I missed the chance to cook with her.  Oy, another life lesson about putting things off until tomorrow.  With Marie gone, I thought my fear of artichokes would be with me forever.

Then came Alessio Stefano's birthday dinner at my apartment.  I told him that I'd cook anything he wanted for this very important day, and that he should pick something special that his mom would have made for him.  Well, he picked something big alright, he picked Lasagne Bianche ai Carciofi e Formaggi (White Lasagna with Artichokes and Cheeses) Ahhh!!!!

It was a challenging meal.  I was totally stressed out about it, yet it came together.  I can now cut the heart out of an artichoke without a second thought.  I can de-choke it, the whole bit.  No damn artichoke is going to get the best of me!

And it's all thanks to you Alessio.  Thank you for the challenge although you had no idea you were challenging me!  Who knows, maybe I'll even go home tonight and cut out some artichoke hearts, just for the hell of it! And here's to you Marie November, the artichoke queen.

There was one serving left and I saved it for my son Marc.  Since he is my toughest critic, I was really glad to have some for him to try.  He loved it!  All the fears were well worth it.  Truly happy.

TIP - If you have a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges, it's really helpful to scrape out the choke.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fish Tacos for Cinco de Mayo (with Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde)

My boy Marc
My Cinco de Mayo gift!
Cinco de Mayo is one of my very favorite days of the year.  Not because I have a proud Mexican heritage and I want celebrate my country’s victory over Napoleon’s French troops. I might raise a glass in solidarity, but I’m not Mexican.  It’s not even because I love to go to my favorite Mexican Restaurant in the City and drink Margarita’s and eat guacamole (which I do love) but that’s not it.  It is because Marc Anthony Guidetti, my son and the love of my life, was born on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo.  For me, that’s the perfect reason to celebrate!
Fish Taco’s are an easy, casual, inexpensive meal.  Three great adjectives together, what could be bad?  Nada. I use Mahi Mahi sometimes because it's delicious, but I often use cod or tilapia, because they're easy to find, and the price is pretty reasonable.  But I’m not wedded to any of them at all.  I also marinate the fish for about 15 or 20 minutes before I grill it.  Served with roasted corn chowder and some guacamole, it’s a great lunch or casual dinner with family and friends.

Fish Taco's for Cinco de Mayo and Marc's Birthday dinner at
Gabel-Frank house in the Pocono's - DEEElicous!!

I serve the Fish Taco’s with 2 choices of Salsa: Pico de Gallo (tomato salsa) and Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Green sauce).  Pico de Gallo is easy and fast to make while the Tomatillo Salsa Verde is a little work, it is still pretty easy.  There are several ways to prepare tomatillos for the salsa, lots of people prefer to roast them, some boil them, and many make them just the way I have it in my recipe.  I'm giving you a suggestion, but cooking is an art, and it's up to you to explore your own design.

And yes, Fish Taco's really are authentic Mexican food for the areas of Mexico near the sea.  The fish is almost always fried, which I'm not going to do (we're not big fryers in Manhattan), but fish tacos are real Mexican food none-the-less.
A GIANT thank you to my wonderful, beautiful niece-in-law Tanya Swartz for showing me how to make Mexican Crema.  It's so easy and so delicious!  No more plain sour cream for me with Mexican dishes!

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