Plenty of plump red grapes along with juicy tender pork. All over soft polenta.
Rustic Italian dishes with comforting flavors that speak to the soul.
Ones that are classic — not flashy. And that are in danger of disappearing.
That’s what “Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing, and Lost Dishes” (Clarkson Potter) is all about.
The new cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Katie Parla, a Rome-based food and wine writer who was a culinary consultant on Season 2 of Netflix’s “Master of None.”
Through 85 recipes, she shines a light on the simple yet satisfying dishes of Basilicata, Calabria, Compania, Molise and Puglia. Take a taste of everything from “Bread Dumplings with Potato and Tomato Broth” and “Orecchiette with Burrata, Tomatoes, and Almond Pesto” to “Egg and Ham Pie” to “Jam Tart with Lard Crust.”
“Pork Cooked with Grapes” (Spezzatino All’Uva) is home-style cooking at its best, a dish of few ingredients that you combine, then let cook on its own, until the pork-fruity flavors marry.
Tart cherries make this streusel-topped yogurt cake extra delightful.
It is not easy to find sour cherries — unless you have a friend with a backyard tree who takes pity on you. In fact, just the other day on Facebook, I saw someone blasting out a plea for a source that sells them, where you don’t have to buy a ton at a time.
Oregon Specialty Fruit to the rescue.
The Willamette Valley fruit company sells canned and jarred locally grown fruits. As luck would have it, I was recently sent samples of its jarred Red Tart Cherries. They feature hand-picked, pitted, non-GMO Montmorency cherries, a tart cherry variety that some studies have found may help lower blood pressure and muscle soreness, and improve sleep.
What’s especially great about these cherries is that they are packed whole in their own unsweetened cherry juice. That’s right, there’s no added sugar. What’s more, you can use that juice. Drink it straight from the jar or add it to cocktails, a glass of sparkling wine or smoothies. Or freeze it for a granita or popsicle.
Tart cherries packed in their own juice — with no added sugar — from Oregon.
The cherries and their juice have a measured sharpness, nothing too wincing and definitely less sour than cranberries. The flavor makes for a nice sweet-tart balance. Plump and juicy with a softer texture than frozen ones, these cherries make a great topping for yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream. They would also be fantastic spooned over roast pork or duck.
This lively Meyer lemon salsa will add more punch to most anything.
Meet one of the easiest, most useful recipes you’ll ever encounter: “Meyer Lemon Salsa.”
Of course it’s from the best-selling Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 2017) by Berkeley’s extraordinary Samin Nosrat.
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the book, do yourself a favor and get one pronto. With whimsical illustrations and a warm, engaging voice, it will teach you instantly and painlessly how to be a better cook.
And if you haven’t yet caught Nosrat’s “Salt Fat Acid Heat” four-part Netflix cooking show, binge-watch it this week. It’s thoroughly captivating and will make you fall in love with this natural-born teacher and food personality with the winning, infectious spirit.
A gluten-free, crust-less dessert made with new Pazazz apples.
There’s a new apple in town. And it’s full of pizzazz.
Or should I say pazazz?
The Pazazz apple is a descendent of the Honeycrisp. So if you love the latter as I do, you will go nuts for the new variety, as well.
Like the Honeycrisp, the Pazazz is crisp as can be, making it an ideal apple to eat out of hand. It has just enough tartness to balance its flavor. I think it has a fuller, more winey taste, too.
The process of creating this apple started a decade ago through cross-pollination with a Honeycrisp. The Pazazz is now grown by family orchards across the country, and available at Safeway stores.
Just say “Pazazz”!
When I received samples recently, I knew they would be ideal to bake with.
Rice crackers and cheese puffs are among the treats inside this Bokksu box.
Elevated Snack Attack
Founder Danny Taing has elevated the snack box — big time — with his Bokksu subscription service.
Every month, he curates a selection of premium Japanese snacks, which — yes — can include such coveted treats as the newest Japanese Kit Kat flavor — that are mailed directly to you from Japan.
Recently, I had a chance to try a sample box. They come in two sizes, the $25 “Tasting” size and the larger $39 “Classic” size, which is the one I had sent to me.
Each month, there is a different theme for each box. For the November one, it was “Tea Story,” which meant everything inside — about 20 items — married well with Japanese tea. With every month’s box, there is always tea included, too.
Everything is tucked inside a custom box.
The snacks arrived in a sturdy, custom logo box, which is a nice touch if you’re giving it as a gift. Inside, there’s a pamphlet with a primer on tea (apparently, it originated in Japan in the 9th century by Buddhist monks as a religious practice), as well as descriptions of the items inside. That’s a handy guide, too, since much of the information on the actual packages is in Japanese. It even identifies possible allergens in the various products.