I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise's Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.
In Ms. Basitanich’s new book “Lidia’s Italy in America,” which she wrote with her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali, the focus is on the unique ways Italian American immigrants interpreted dishes from their homeland throughout the United States. Watch "Lidia Celebrates America -- Holiday Tables & Traditions" on KQED TV.
The more I think about it, the more I find that my relationship with summer fruit is sort of like a romance. You start off all hot and bothered by the unique amazing characteristics that make you fall in love, and end up taking the object of your devotion for granted later when life returns to normal. But that doesn't mean that my time romancing summer fruit is over, because baking brings out a whole new sense of wonder.
No matter what you call them -- ICEEs, Slurpees or slushies -- frozen fruit drinks are one of the best ways to quench your thirst on a hot day. This is especially true if you're a kid. But what do you do if you're a mom and aren't particularly fond of the idea of your kids gulping down frozen high-fructose corn syrup beverages all summer? Make your own, of course.
It is time once again for my annual raspberry post. You see, early June is my time to contemplate all things raspberry. Why now? What’s stopping me from meditating on the delights of baked and fresh raspberry dishes in, say, April when spring starts, or July when everyone is making juicy fruit crisps? The answer is simple really: raspberries are actually in season now. Not in April or July. Now. Sure you can buy raspberries all year long; and if you’re a commercial grower I’m sure you can extend the season from early spring to late summer or even fall. But if you are a home gardener, this is your raspberry moment.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, it's time to talk about burgers (again). Yes, I know I just wrote about all-beef hamburgers, but you don't need meat to make a tasty burger. Veggie burgers can be just as delicious as their beef counterparts, and healthier too.
Pasta Piselli is one of those dishes for us. A dish made with peas, tomatoes, herbs and onions, it is simple and forthright. There is nothing showy about this dish, yet made with fresh spring onions and just-shelled English peas, I find that it has an innate elegance that makes it perfect not only for a family meal but as something I would be proud to serve to guests.
Happy National Hamburger Month! In honor of this made-up celebration of all things burger, let's get to the meat of the matter. When the weather is nice -- usually sunny, but let's be honest about where we live and include mildly foggy -- it's time to grill.
Did you know that the margarita is the number one cocktail ordered in America? It's also a distinctly American drink -- American meaning it is mostly served in the United States. In Mexico, the Paloma -- a combination of grapefruit soda, tequila, salt and lime juice -- is the tequila mixed-drink of choice. But in the United States, Margaritas reign supreme and, as you might guess, there's no day where margaritas are served more in this country than Cinco de Mayo.
I made three types of ice cream and, no surprise to many vegans out there but sort of a surprise to me, they were all amazingly good, exceeding my expectations on every level. My ten-year old daughter Maddie even exclaimed about the chocolate version "This is better than store-bought ice cream! It's my favorite!" I have to agree. My three flavors were almond, strawberry and chocolate. All are vegan. The first two were delightful but the chocolate was really special, and all are cholesterol and fat free.
Google is out to tame the Wild West of the food world, and I'm not really sure how I feel about this. A couple of weeks ago, Google introduced Recipe View, a search function Bing had added last year. Initially, I loved the idea that people would be able to search for recipes exclusively and that Google had taken the time to create a recipe search tool specifically for cooks, but then I saw the search results and my hopes deflated.
Here's my Half-the-Meat Tamale Pie recipe. Unlike other similar casseroles, this one uses only a half-pound of meat (either beef or turkey is fine) plus two cups of whole beans. This makes it not only more heart healthy, but also incredibly inexpensive. The entire dinner for four to six people costs about $10 to make and includes fresh vegetables like Anaheim peppers and whole kernels of corn. It's also a dish my children love, and I have to say that although I wouldn't have made this dish in my 20s, I am rather fond of it now.
Other than a holiday standing rib roast, most people now forgo the once archetypal Sunday supper of roast beef, including me. Eating copious amounts of beef is no longer fashionable, with the good reason that it's simply not healthy for you. But when I was confronted with an eye of round roast recently, I just couldn't help myself. Nutrition and food fads took a back seat for the night: I had to make a traditional roast beef with gravy.
You wouldn't think that something as mundane as making a sandwich for my daughters on a weekend afternoon would be loaded with controversy, but it is. You see, my daughters love tuna fish sandwiches. Easy enough, right? We all grew up on sandwiches made of canned white tuna mixed with mayonnaise and served with a pickle. Yet although this quintessential American lunch may seem benign, it's something I refuse to serve my children. The tuna fish sandwich we all grew up on is now too controversial, and potentially dangerous, for my daughters to eat.
So what will this judgmental snack snob make this Super Bowl Sunday? My antidote to what I found listed in the two Gazettes is lettuce wraps. Beautifully seasoned meat wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves, this dish is full of flavor, fun to eat with your hands, and, dare I say, healthy.