September 16, 2012

Guess who

is making Gram's meatballs tonight? Me! Ha! You know all the other Cappo Gallos will love them. Thanks for the recipe, Tara! Love you and wish you were here to eat some too! ('Cause I'm making a double batch!)

July 10, 2012


it's been a looooooooong time since we updated this here blog, huh? if anyone is still out there, thanks for hanging in. someday soon new posts will make their way from brain to page. until then, how 'bout following us on the twitter? or the tumblr? and of course, there's always instagram. and what about facebook

March 23, 2011

April 21, 2010

From such humble beginnings...

comes such deliciousness!

This recipe, for chunky lentil soup, from Heidi Swanson's beautiful Super Natural Cooking (a gift from my beloved Tara, of course) is one of my current faves. (Her website is chock full of yummyness, too!) It's a quick, healthy meal that leaves enough leftovers for a couple of lunches. Heidi's work is inspiring to me because it shows how simple healthy cooking can be. Not that the lily can't be gilded, mind you -- I served this last night with a pile of freshly-grated parmiggiano reggiano and garlic-basil toasts. Mmmmmmmmmmm!

April 7, 2010

cheese, glorious cheese

i'm trying to give up cheese. it may seem odd that cheese is something i need to give up, but i LOVE cheese. maybe it's a holdover from my vegetarian days, or just the proven fact that cheese is one of the top things in life, along with coca-cola, sex, books, and david bowie.

so i'm trying to relegate cheese to the status of a treat, as i have dealt with my other previously mentioned obsession, coke. coke is it, yo!  sorry, got distracted.  with the possible exception of parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano (which in theory are not eaten in large quantities) i am going to eat cheese on holidays only. official holidays, my birthday and anniversary. no arbor day, or patriot's day, or guy fawkes day...although any holiday is an option should i really hanker for a hunk o' cheese!

the only way i can think of accomplishing this heretofore never imagined feat is to outlaw cheese in my house. if there is cheese in the fridge, i will eat it.  if there is cheddar cheese in that fridge, i will eat it as a meal!

now, one of the things i hate most about the way our culture deals with food and dieting is that we have these 'guilty' or 'sinful' or 'bad vs. good' labels for everything food-related. so i'm never going to say 'cheese is bad.' it's just that, for me, it's too much of a damn good thing ;).

so...what to do to with those odds and ends of the various cheeses i will now not be eating? there is a lovely something known as fromage fort, or in much less lyrical english, strong cheese. many recipes for this concoction exist, but i usually, oh so surprisingly, just throw stuff in with abandon and it always comes out well!

when first making this, i followed this recipe, from the inimitable jacques pepin. now i eyeball everything, based on how much cheese i have.

fromage fort
cheese [can be a mixture of any kinds: brie, blue, swiss, goat, cow, sheep, etc.]
garlic [grated or minced], at least 1 clove, or to taste
white wine, 1/4 - 1/2 cup [amount will vary based on how much cheese used]
salt and pepper, to taste

chop cheese into small pieces, removing any rind, and add to food processor. if using harder cheeses, like parmigiano, it's easier to grate before blending.

add white wine gradually; it's easy to add more to reach desired consistency, but difficult if you put too much in to start. add garlic, pepper and salt, if necessary. the cheese may be salty enough without this addition, so use your own judgement.

blend until smooth and creamy. add more wine as necessary until the consistency is to your liking.

chill until slightly firm and eat with bread or crackers or what have you while listening to the labyrinth soundtrack (that last part is just a serving suggestion). can also be eaten straight out of the food processor, but it is better after a bit of fridge time. m. pepin also suggests putting it on bread and broiling it, which is deliciously tasty as well.

now...why am i giving up cheese again!??!?

April 4, 2010

oven-dried tomatoes

i am strangely fixated on heirloom tomatoes. well, i'm strangely fixated on a lot of things, but even i think it's weird to be obsessed with tomatoes. but i am. in the magazine version of my life, i have lovely al fresco summer dinner parties, with all of my magically-in-one-place friends at my perfectly-quaint-and-preferably-in-italy-country farmhouse, featuring a plethora of mouthwatering grilled foods and accompanied, always, by plates of beautifully ripe sliced home-grown heirloom tomatoes of varied hues, maybe accented with basil, or fresh buffalo mozzarella, or just simply with fresh, green olive oil (pressed from my own olives, of course) and sprinkled with maldon salt.

in the non-magazine version of my life, aka 'reality,' i am more likely to buy a container of tomatoes, put them on the counter, walk by them a million times admiring their lovely appearance, and eventually determine said tomatoes are about 24 hours from becoming decidedly not lovely. solution = oven dried tomatoes.

these lovelies were inspired by the always magazine-life-living martha, and they are almost ridiculously easy to make, and to eat.

oven-dried tomatoes
tomatoes [preferably a mix of the aforementioned heirloom variety], whatever amount you want or have
salt [i used my favorite, you guessed it, maldon], to taste
pepper [preferably freshly ground], to taste
sugar [i used organic cane sugar], about 2 tablespoons or to taste

pre-heat oven to 250 degrees F.

cut tomatoes in half, for small varieties such as grape or cherry, and in slices, for large sizes. place on a baking sheet covered with parchment or silicone baking sheet (such as this one that i use) to prevent sticking.

sprinkle tomatoes evenly with sugar, salt, and pepper. the sugar doesn't make them especially sweet, but seems to help bring out the natural sugars in the tomatoes.
cook in the low oven until the tomato juices are dissipated and the tomatoes nicely shriveled. you can dry them as much as you want, depending on how you are going to use them. mine took about 2 to 3 hours.

ideally, you can use these like you would sun-dried tomatoes, in pastas, dips, sandwiches. you could store them in oil in the fridge, or in the freezer, or in an airtight container on the counter...

or, like me, you can eat them straight-up when they come out of the oven. they are rather like candied delish, even the non-tomato-eating da gorge loved them.

[all photographs taken by greg ward hart.]

April 1, 2010

A few of my favorite things

When my husband and I moved into this house, the thing I was most excited about was having a dining room. One of our first purchases to fill the gaps created by moving a studio apartment's worth of furniture into a modest home was, of course, a dining room set -- a vintage one with a beat-up table -- from a wacky guy in HoHoKus, NJ. The chairs had no seats, but I found someone to make them and upholster them in this cool fabric.

I didn't have Christmas here, and I'm not doing Easter, either, so I was excited to host a Sunday dinner when my parents were in town last week. My in-laws came, too, so with the kids and Michael and I, it was numerous enough to feel festive. So what did I do? I pulled out a few of my favorite things -- many of them wedding gifts. Having them is special, but using them is really what it is all about. If you never see it, it's like you don't have it. Luckily, my mom agrees, so she helped me pick and choose and set a springy table.

One of my favorite items of all time is my parmesan cheese server -- a gift from -- OF COURSE -- Tara. I love how you can see the luscious cheese through the glass bowl, and the spoon (which, unfortunately is obscured by said luscious cheese) is adorable!

My new favorite is a gift from my dear friend Lucy Borland, namesake of my little one. A bunny cookie jar! It's really for the girls, but I've already pressed it into service.

The china -- one of my mom's sets -- was her wedding gift to me -- it is no longer in production, and I cherish it. Her marriage has lasted nearly 43 years, so I like to think of it, in part, as a good luck charm. It is also my favorite dish to look down at -- it makes me feel especially like home.

So I guess this rambling isn't really about food, but how we present it. It's not really that I'm proud about my belongings or that I want to show them off -- I can enjoy a delicious meal on a paper plate or from a square of foil. I just love these things because of the people who gave them to me. We all have our family recipes -- and our family dishes, too.