Recreating Memories in the Kitchen

I can’t remember exactly when it was, but recently I learned an Italian phrase that I had never heard before: “fare la scarpetta.” Roughly translated “to do the little shoe,” the terms refer to the act of taking a piece of bread and soaking up the remnants of gravy or soup or whatever meal leftovers remain.

Upon investigating, I learned that the “shoe” reference is a metaphorical description of the bread. Like a shoe being dragged in the mud, the bread soaks up the sauce and becomes saturated with flavor. Continue reading

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The Perfect Pick-Me-Up

When I was in Italy I ate my fair share of tiramisu. During lunchtime at the Villa, the students eagerly waited to see if tiramisu would be served for dessert. The moments when the “pick-me-up” made its way to the buffet table, everyone would rush into line and proceed to take large spoonfuls. Sprinkled with coffee powder on top, the caffeine is not hidden. Yet despite the espresso laden ladyfingers and coffee dusting, the rich custard and overwhelming portions meant for very sleepy afternoons.  Continue reading

Southern Comfort Dinner

There is a classic saying that warns about having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” The danger of combining too many hot-headed, do-it-my-way-or-no-way, food obsessed people in an overheated, confined space is an increases risk a big flare up. The likelihood of it being the food or the people is equal.

Yet, when you manage to bring people together who have a real passion for flavors and cooking, the results can also be amazing. This was my experience during a weekend cooking with one of the suitemates. Continue reading

My First Kitchen[s]

Julia Child's Cambridge, MA Kitchen

Some girls dream about their first house with a white picket fence, a large yard for the dog and the kids to run around, and a front porch complete with a rocking chair. While this image seems absolutely wonderful, my idea of my first home is very different. For me, images of a fence or a yard or a porch do not cross my mind. Instead, my dream home is based around what my kitchen would like.

When I was a little girl one of my favorite “toys” was my play kitchen. Though it was relatively simple compared to the ones today with battery-powered microwaves, light fixtures, and ovens that chime, I adored everything about it. I could spend hours placing plastic fruit in the blender for “smoothies” or flipping “eggs” in the fry pan to serve my dolls for breakfast. Playing in the kitchen, I felt like a mother, the person the family could rely on to literally put food on the table. Perhaps an early sign of my future love of cooking, those moments with that kitchen are some of my favorite memories of childhood. Continue reading

When Ravioli was the Enemy

I have a secret I have to admit. Although I now feel like the reigning queen of all things Italian, including food, there was once a time when the idea of something wrapped in a tiny package, stuffed with cheese, and covered in sauce had no appeal to me.

I remember very clearly an evening at the dinner table when I was perhaps four or five years old. On my plate was a serving of ravioli, and there they rested for some time. Because my mom believed in the “you-either-eat-this-or-nothing” philosophy, I had very little choice but to succumb to the pressure of taking a bite of the Italian cheese pillows. I cannot recall what I thought after those initial bites, but I do remember the aftermath: me, isolated in the living room with a grape freeze pop watching as my mother cleaned up what remained of my dinner…on the floor.  Continue reading

An Italian (Dorm) Pantry

Flavia would be proud of my apartment’s pantry.

My love of Italian food is no secret, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that my D.C. kitchen is all but stocked with Italian staple ingredients. Considering items like tomatoes, basil, pasta, and balsamic, one might expect my kitchen to belong to that of an Italian grandma. Continue reading

Summer’s Bounty on a Plate

I absolutely love summer. The sandy beaches, the seemingly endless hours of sunlight, and the late nights sitting around bonfires are just some of the highlights of the season. But perhaps my favorite aspect of summer is the refreshing and delicious bounty of food that accompanies its arrival.

Melting banana splits and scoops piled in a waffle cone. Hamburgers on the grill with potato salad and an ice-cold beer. Marshmallows on an open fire, toasted until golden brown and then smushed between two graham crackers and piece of chocolate. These are just a few of summer’s delights, and all of them are among my favorites. Yet though these reflect some of the season’s guiltiest pleasures, summer also offers some of the year’s healthiest ingredients. Think luscious, juicy berries; sweet and buttery corn on the cob; red-as-lips ripe tomatoes; fragrant basil that perfumes hands for hours. Continue reading