Ciabatta, Fava & Salmon

March 16th, 2011 / comments 2

The negozio alimentare or ‘shop of food’ closest to our apartment is the source of ciabatta. Ciabatta is a broad, flat, crusty loaf of bread. It is also the Italian word for slipper – perhaps Gepetto used his carpentry skills and two loaves of stale ciabatta to make slippers for Pinocchio.  Fresh from the market, sliced horizontally, topped with cheese, slices of tomato and a few drops of oil, it is the perfect foundation for a mid-day sandwich. When I want garlic bread, I slice it, smear it with a mixture of olive oil, minced fresh garlic, dried oregano and ground black pepper and toast it in the oven. I make “toasterless” toast by sautéing it in butter until golden.

bread honey copy Ciabatta, Fava & Salmon

Ciabatta more than three days old was too hard to eat until it had been softened. I cut it in quarter-inch chunks, added it to a green salad, poured salad dressing onto it, waited five minutes and then enjoyed it. On Monday, Italian French toast was the recipe of last resort to use the stale end of the loaf. Charles cut the ciabatta into four one-inch thick slices and put them into a single layer in a shallow baking pan. I mixed together one egg and two thirds of a cup of milk, poured it over the bread and refrigerated it for three hours while we were at the market choosing food for dinner. When we got back to our apartment, I sauteed the now very soft bread in butter over medium heat until it was golden on both sides. I put the finished pieces into the toaster oven to stay warm while I sauteed one sliced banana in a bit more butter, and made a small fruit salad with the remaining pear, a few strawberries, a teaspoon of orange blossom honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. This meal was sunny enough to counter the gray sky and chilly wind blowing in from the sea.

Our son Matthew arrived Monday evening for a three-week visit and I made dinner to welcome him. Because we had started the Italian French toast before going out, we were late getting to the market and there was less fish than usual. Angelo Cappucio, my favorite fish vendor, waved to me and showed me his last piece of salmon. Timing and friendship are everything at the market.

I bought a bunch of carrots with feathery greens, four tender-skinned new potatoes and a kilo of the fava beans that marked the arrival of spring in the market. Fava beans are in the same category of food as artichokes, corn on the cob, lobsters and crabs – when you have finished eating any of these things, the pile of debris that remains is larger than the initial serving, apparently disproving the law of Conservation of Mass. In any case, after more than an hour of shelling, blanching and husking a kilo, a bit more than two pounds, of fava beans I had 147 grams, about five ounces, of edible beans and a large bag full of inedible pods and husks.

We expected Matthew on the eight o’clock bus, so I put three thinly sliced new potatoes into a shallow baking pan, drizzling on two tablespoons of olive oil, dusted the top with dried oregano and black pepper. I put them into the toaster oven. The temperature dial on the toaster oven is in centigrade so I turned the dial to point to ‘seven o’clock’ and hoped for the best.

I simmered two thinly sliced carrots with a pinch of salt in a quarter of a cup of water. When the carrots were tender and the water nearly evaporated, I added the blanched, shelled fava beans and  a teaspoon of butter to the pan and turned off the heat.

Matthew arrived at 8:20 and after quick hellos and hugs all around I cooked the salmon while Charles and Matthew made plans over glasses of wine. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Salmon Citrus Salad – Dinner on the Road

February 11th, 2010 / comments 2

Rosie is feeling blue. Hiding in the closet didn’t work, standing outside and looking disinterested  wasn’t convincing. After an undignified trip to the car, we resorted to a pharmacologically induced calm.

After a couple of tranquilizers, her trembling and quaking disappeared along with her appetite.
Rosie 02 Salmon Citrus Salad   Dinner on the Road

On the other hand, her human traveling companions, that would be me and Charles, shared an inspired salmon salad that combined poached salmon, ripe olives, mixed greens, feta cheese, red onions and Clementine’s. Proof  that careful ordering is as important as careful cooking.
blue fish c egbert  Salmon Citrus Salad   Dinner on the Road I don’t have a recipe for this salad (yet), but I look forward to combining fresh fish and citrus from the market in Siracusa as soon as I can and sharing what I learn.

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White Burger – Cod for Dinner

October 30th, 2009 / comments 2

On a rainy autumn evening, a burger and fries and a favorite Hitchcock film is perfection. The movie may be Rear Window, Dial M for Murder or The Man who Knew Too Much and the burger may be red meat, poultry or fish.

Fish c egbert White Burger   Cod for Dinner

Yep, a FISH burger! Made with minced cod, this burger is delicious, an excellent low-calorie source of protein, a good source of omega – 3 fatty acids, a good source vitamin B12 and B6, and niacin. When you taste it, you will forget the health benefits and simply enjoy dinner and the movie.  Here’s how I did it. … read more

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