Bewitched Apples

Fall’s in the air and Halloween’s only about three weeks away, so it’s a good time to craft a cheery bouquet of candied apples. In Italy, they’re called “mele stregate,” or “bewitched” or “enchanted” apples, and they’re made a bit differently then they are here in the States. Instead of using red food dye to color the caramel, Italians use Alchermes, a slightly bitter, ruby-red liqueur. ...more

Stone Fruit and Prosciutto Salad

I had a lovely salad at the Getty Villa last week – baby greens, julienned prosciutto, and juicy cubes of ripe peach tossed with a bit of shaved Parmigiano and chopped walnuts in a delicate vinaigrette. It was one of those sun-through-magnifying-glass hot afternoons, and that cool, sweet-salty salad (and a large tan umbrella courtesy the Getty) gave me the oomph to follow our friendly docent through the hour-long architecture and garden tour. ...more

A Dinner for the Sedentary

Intellectual labor seems to occur primarily in the butt – at least, that’s the part of my body that suffers most: it gets frightfully sore and, after several days glued to my swivel chair, it seems to inflate and envelope my entire consciousness. But if intellectual labor just turned me into a butt-head, it might be somewhat bearable. Unfortunately, it also vexes and displaces my appetite – when dinner time rolls around, I feel morose, irritated, and drained of energy rather than hungry. At these times I am not just a butt-head, I am a bitter, pooped-out butt-head. ...more

Ragout d’agneau/Spezzatino di agnello/Lamb stew

For our settimana bianca (ski week) last year, Ale and I ventured north to Canada’s fairytale Lake Louise. One evening we returned from the slopes too exhausted to shower and dress for dinner. Fortunately, we spied a single, empty table at the Lakeview Lounge and, still dressed in our ski-suits and moonboots, buried our tired butts in the overstuffed chairs. The view of the ice-covered lake and snow-clad mountains was beyond breathtaking, but I completely forgot about it when the waiter brought out my bowl of luxurious, steamy lamb stew. ...more

The Unassuming Cucumber

For some people: its shape is disagreeably suggestive and its thick, dull-green skin is suggestively disagreeable. Its fragrance, when actually detectable, is an enigmatic whiff of clammy cave. And unlike its cousin, the dignified gourd, its displayability quotient is zero and it does not comfort with cheery noises when rattled. These people believe that earlier generations of Brits were dead on when they designated the cowcumber as a cow comestible: for them, it is an indigestible dirigible suitable only for those possessing multiple stomachs. Naturally, I disagree. ...more

Hi Kalyn! I couldn't agree with you more - supermarket cucumbers are definitely not worth the ...more

Quick fixins

Summer vacation’s over and it’s back to the blackboard for many of us, children and adults alike. For Ale and I, this means late, light dinners a couple of nights a week. Tapas-type fixin’s are just perfect for these occasions: although they do require some minimal planning, once the pantry and fridge are stocked, dinner can be prepped in little time and the results are, like, unbelievable dude! ...more

Caprino sott'olio

Markets in Italy are chock full of beautiful jars and bowls of various goodies sott’ olio (under oil) and sott’ aceto (under vinegar). Many are made locally – of local vegetables and cheeses and local olive oils and vinegars. But they’re not mere visual stunners, they are also gustatory stunners. Fortunately, many of them are easy to prepare at home – there’s only one tiny caveat: like any dish with very few ingredients, each ingredient must be the very best quality. ...more

Skinny Cannelloni

Otherwise known in Italian as “cannelloni di magro”. My translation in the title is a bit tongue-in-cheek: “magro” does mean skinny, but, when used in the names of recipes, the appropriate translation would be closer to “vegetarian” rather than “skinny” because “di magro” (or“in magro”) indicates a dish that is free of meat (and certainly not always calorie-lite). But the word “skinny” (or, more elegantly, “lean”) actually is not entirely off-base. A brief history of “di magro” ...more

Italian kitchen cream

Got back yesterday evening from our little Labor Day sally and, because I hadn’t bothered to do any grocery shopping before we left on Thursday, found very little in the fridge. Fortunately, not much was needed to turn out a satisfying dinner: half a wedge of gorgonzola dolce, a bit of grated Parmigiano, a box of Italian cream (panna da cucina)… Spaghetti alla gorgonzola (Now that I know how to add pictures to this blog, I took a pic with my phone camera of the sauce while it was cooking – not great, but it gives something of an idea of what the sauce looks like). ...more


Shortly after Alessandro and I met, we fell into the custom of enjoying after-work cocktails at a corner baretto a few blocks from our apartment in Milan. I’d always order one of the aperitivi della casa (which invariably tasted either like a Negroni or a fruit punch) and Ale’d always order something exotic, something that probably made him feel like he was Magnum P.I. Various free stuzzichini (munchies) accompanied the apertivi: a small plate of pizzette and canapés, a cup of roasted nuts, a handful of potato chips. ...more

Why not? Although if the bar sells appetizers, they are likely to object.

Kalyn Denny