Archive | eat this

the last blood orange of the season


Elliott and Lena have befriended the farmers that live in the valley below our house.  Not only do these farmers have pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and puppies (one of which Elliott has named Luigi and really wants to adopt), but they also have a huge vegetable garden and an orange grove.  On multiple occasions Elliott has returned home bearing bags of produce and fresh eggs.  Farmers are good people to know!

A few weeks ago the farmer handed Elliott a bag of blood oranges and told him that these were absolutely the last blood oranges of the season.  Feeling nostalgic for my favorite Sicilian delicacy, I took a few photos as Lena and I ate the final orange.

(Am I being absurdly sentimental?  Maybe… but after my friend Desiree moved back to the States, she told me that she can’t get blood oranges there and that its cousin — the Cara Cara orange — costs $1.30 per orange.  So I’ll savor these oranges for as long as I can… especially when they’re given to us for free and were picked from trees growing right outside my house!)




“Mmm… bloody,” Lena’s friend Lucas exclaimed the other day as he bit into a blood orange.

“Now that,” commented his mother, “is a unique word for a two-year-old to have in his vocabulary.”




Next winter, Gil, I’ll give you all the blood oranges you want to eat!


Although there were no oranges in my favorite market truck today, it was loaded with other things.   I bought ruby-red cherries and the first sun-kissed apricots of the summer.  I reached out to touch rock-hard peaches with something akin to reverence; I hadn’t eaten one in almost a year.  That is the comfort of eating seasonally: one delicious thing is just replaced by new ones… all year round!

13 :: in eat this, Italy, Sicily

a Sicilian tradition :: Breaded Eggplant Cutlets


Recently Elliott and I have been trying to eat more vegetarian meals, especially after reading the fascinating results of this study.  I also am always trying to find new eggplant recipes, because eggplants are cheap, plentiful, and everywhere in Sicily.  This isn’t easy when I don’t particularly like eggplant!  (Do you??)  I have recently learned two great eggplant recipes (a Sicilian pasta dish and an Italian antipasto).   But eggplant and me… still not great friends.

However, when I bit into these uh-may-zing eggplant cutlets at a recent cooking class, I began to reconsider my preferences.  Maybe it’s because everything breaded and fried is delicious?  Here’s how to make them at home:


First, peel and slice the eggplant lengthwise.


Then dip it in beaten eggs.


Dredge the cutlets in a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and salt.


Fry ’em up in butter.  Or vegetable or olive oil, as you prefer.  (The health study I mentioned earlier would probably recommend olive oil over butter.  Just a guess.)


Remove from the pan and let drain on paper towels.  As soon as they’re cool enough (they’ll burn your tongue!), cut them up and enjoy.

If you don’t have time to do the breading and frying yourself, Trader Joe’s sells pre-cut and pre-breaded eggplant cutlets.  They recommend using them as a meatless main dish and adding a little tomato sauce and cheese on top… yum yum!

I’ve included the kitchen-friendly recipe below.   Do you have an eggplant recipe you love?  Please share any ideas in the comments; I need some new recipes!

Breaded Fried Eggplant Cutlets


  • 1 large eggplant
  • ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetable oil or butter


  • Peel & slice eggplant into ¼ width cutlets
  • Dip cutlets in egg wash.
  • Dredge eggplant pieces in breadcrumb mixture (breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, & salt).
  • Fry eggplant cutlets in vegetable oil or butter in large, non-stick pan until brown on both sides.
  • Remove from pan onto paper towels.
14 :: in eat this, Italy, Sicily

a Sicilian tradition :: Caponata recipe


Last week some friends and I got together for another cooking class.  This time we learned three classic Italian dishes, and I’ll be sharing step-by-step instructions and recipes over the next few days.  The first recipe is for caponata, also called “eggplant relish,” which is a very traditional Sicilian dish.  The combination of eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, celery, nuts, and vinegar make a tangy, flavorful side dish that my American friends rave about.

Here’s the how-to guide with the complete recipe at the end of the post!


First, cut your eggplant into 2-inch cubes.  Cover with Kosher salt to draw out the bitter taste and let stand while you prepare and fry the peppers.


Cut your peppers in half, remove the seeds and stalk, and then cut them in half again.  Chop the quartered pepper into bite-size pieces.  Fry the pieces in vegetable oil in batches, removing them when a fork will slide into them without resistance.  Remove from pan and put them on a bowl or plate lined with a paper towel.

Return to your eggplant.  Rinse, drain, and dry the eggplant before frying it in small batches until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and put them on a plate lined with a paper towel.  (You can see more explanation about frying eggplant in this post.)

Now make the sugo, or sauce.


To make the “sugo di caponata,” first fry a chopped onion and celery together for 5 minutes.  Then add a 1/2 can of green olives.


Add 1 cup of tomato sauce OR fresh tomatoes and a spoon of tomato paste.  Sautee together with a teaspoon of salt.


After the mixture begins to boil, add in peppers, eggplant, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  Cook until dissolved and continue to stir for two more minutes.

Finally, add capers, raisins, or pine nuts if desired.  Top with fresh basil.  Buon appetito!


Caponata Recipe


  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-sized eggplants
  • 2 large red peppers
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 3 large stalks of celery chopped into large 1-inch pieces
  • ½ jar green olives without pimentos
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 C of salsa di pomodoro, passata OR fresh tomatoes with 1 spoon of tomato paste
  • Optional additions: capers, raisins, or pine nuts
  • Fresh basil leaves


  • Chop eggplants in large (2 inch) chunks.  Place in colander and sprinkle with salt to sit for 30 min-1 hour.
  • Deseed peppers, chop into large (2 inch) chunks.  Fry batches in vegetable oil with salt in deep pan until partially done and a fork slides into them easily.  Put in a bowl with paper towels to drain.
  • Rinse, drain, and dry eggplant before frying in batches in vegetable oil.  Sprinkle with salt while frying.  Fry until light brown and partially done.  Put in a bowl with paper towels to drain.
  • Sugo for Caponata:  Heat up oil in large non-stick pan.  Add diced onion and chopped celery and cook until fried (5 minutes).  (Add more oil if it is dry.)  Add ½ jar whole green olives without pimentos to mix.  Continue to cook until browned.  Add about 1 cup of salsa di pomodoro, passata, or fresh tomatoes and a spoon of tomato paste.  Sautee together stirring constantly.  Add about 1 tsp of salt.
  • Add peppers and eggplant. Stir all together over high heat.
  • Add two tablespoons of sugar and 1/3 C of apple cider vinegar and mix together until dissolved.  Add to pan and stir.  Cook for two more minutes while stirring.  Salt to taste.
  • Add optional ingredients and fresh basil if desired.
13 :: in eat this, Italy, Sicily

first gelato of the summer!


“We haven’t gone to get gelato yet,” Elliott said randomly over dinner the other night.  “The gelateria has been open for the season for a few weeks now.”

My ears perked right up.  He was talking about gelato?  In our house, I am definitely the sweets person.  This was wonderful!

“Would you like to walk there after dinner?”

“Ummm… sure!”


The gelateria in our town is just a 10-minute walk from our house.  This, in my experience, is just the right distance to digest your dinner, take in the town, and prepare your taste buds for the deliciousness ahead.  The owner and his wife know us after our frequent daily trips there with our many visitors last summer.  If you’ll pardon my pun, life just seems sweeter in this cold world when you’re friends with the owner of a gelateria.


^^^ Pistachio and chocolate, my old standard.


This last photo is from Instagram, so the quality isn’t the best, but it was too good not to share.  At first Lena was distraught that she didn’t get her own cone, but when she saw how liberally we shared with her, she changed her strategy.  The child ate more gelato than dinner that night!

Do you have a favorite ice cream store — or, if you’re lucky, a gelato shop — in your town?  What’s your favorite flavor?  Once I’ve gotten my fill of pistachio and chocolate, I like to move on to pure Nutella gelato… it’s life changing.

15 :: in eat this, family, Italy

a Sicilian tradition :: bruschetta


You know the feeling of biting into a perfect piece of bruschetta: the crunch of the toasted bread, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the spiciness of the garlic, the delicious flavor of herbs filling your mouth.  I’ve attempted bruschetta and been disappointed with the result, so I was glad when Maria included a bruschetta tutorial with her pasta alla norma cooking class this week.  Making perfect bruschetta might not be so hard for me now!

Here are a few pictures of the process and then the recipe is at the end of the post.


First, deseed and dice your tomatoes.  Then mix them with the olive oil and herbs in a large bowl.  Let sit while you prepare the bread.


Try to find a loaf of bread that looks something like this.  Slice it into 1-cm pieces and place on a tray to toast in the oven.


Take a break for a picture with your cute little boy…


… and to check out your daughter, who is playing with one of the many children that were running around the house throughout our cooking class.  Fun for them and fun for us!


When the bread is finished toasting, top with the tomato mixture.

Sit down at the table and enjoy with your friends!  Buon appetito!


Bruschetta Recipe


  • 1 kilo tomato (2 lbs)
  • 1 loaf of bread
  • 3 small garlic cloves (2 large)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil (or 2 fresh basil stems)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • about 1/2 cup olive oil


  • De-seed tomatoes and dice into small pieces.  Mince garlic and place into tomatoes.  Add oregano, basil, salt, and oil. Cover and let sit.
  • Put oven rack on lowest position and set to Broil. Slice bread into 1cm thickness. Place in oven and toast until warm.
  • Top bread slices with tomato mixture.
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11 :: in eat this, friends, Sicily

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