When I was about ten, I went to a traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. Truthfully, there might not have been exactly seven fishes, but there were many courses and there were many old Italians; the dinner was held my grandmother’s best friend Marie. Marie lived in the same Florida development as my grandparents, so I always saw her when I went to visit them; I don’t think I realized until I was about seven that we weren’t related. She is a fabulous cook, and her Christmas Eve banquet was one of my formative food experiences; I remember sitting through antipasti, pastas, fish, cheeses, desserts, thinking “I want to be able to do this one day.” One of the antipasti served at the start of this dinner was a traditional Sicilian pickled eggplant – melanzane sott’olio. I was not a huge fan, but my parents went nuts over it and my mom got the recipe. It languished in her recipe box for years, but since I’ve got a more developed palate than I did at ten, and I’ve been getting into pickles, I decided to try it out…
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I promised recipes last week and I’m not one to break promises, so here’s a quickie in celebration of the fact that I’ll be free of the bar exam in a week. Another winner from The Dallas Junior League Cookbook: nectarine-tomato chutney.
First off, I wanted thank you all for the really sweet and supportive comments I’ve received over the past couple of weeks. I’m getting down to the wire (the bar exam is on the 26th and 27th) and I’ll soon be back to posting and commenting with regularity.
In the meantime, I have a thank-you gift: my latest Charcutepalooza creation – mortadella.
When I was making an Ancient Roman feast a few months ago, I started thinking about yeast. In particular: how did people culture it before the days stores started selling it in cakes and packets? At this point, I really should be thinking more about Trusts, Estates, Torts, and the bar exam, but it’s so easy to fit a bit of kneading and some yeast thoughts into the day for study breaks. The result: sourdough.
I woke up at 5:30 AM yesterday morning for some ungodly reason. As I lay in bed pondering what to do about this, I thought, bakers get up before this hour every day – so why not bake? My younger stepsisters were heading to camp around noon, so I made a Monkey Bubble Bread from my non-vintage Achilles heel cookbook – Baked Explorations.