We've got spring fever...
why this April newsletter is appearing in May! The sun has been
so bright and the air so warm.... it's been hard to stay inside.
'Tis the season to eat fresh food: strawberries, artichokes,
fava beans and green peas... this is the very best time to visit
your local farmers market and check out what's new. How long has
it been since you've packed up a picnic and headed to your
favorite park? Now is a very good time!
A LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO CHEF ANDREA FRONCILLO
I talk to people about food, what I'm really talking about
is memories. When I think of certain dishes, I always reflect on
who I enjoyed them with... the person who inspired me to make
this or that... andy why. Making food is like making love - the
more creativity and fun you put into it, the more delicious it
As you read this, I'll be in the air, on my way to Italy...Getting
ready to go has reminded me of the many directions my life has
taken. When I think of the crazy times, the bad times, and the
wonderful times, I realize all over again that I've had an
incredible life. My mother has been an enormous inspiration to
me, and I'm pretty excited to be spending Mother's Day with her.
During the month of April, I thought back on Easter Sundays
in Italy, when we got up early in the morning and walked out
to the foothills surrounding Mount Vesuvius. As the story goes,
Christ was resurrected three days after he died, and several
days later he ascended to heaven on a hillside, promising to
return again some day. The hills were vibrant green; the air
smelled of sunshine and lemons. Families arrived as early as
dawn, staking out the best patches of grass. We arranged our
bundles and unpacked the baskets: bottles of wine and water,
fruits and cheeses, thick salamis and fresh fava beans. There
was angel hair cake, made with pasta and eggs and sugar,
flavored with orange water, cooked in a sheet pan and cut into
cool, moist squares that stuck to our teeth.
The Easter bread, casatiello, was the best treat of all.
Casatiello is rich and heavy, made dense with olive oil and
stuffed with pancetta, parmigiano, and salami, and decorated on
top with whole eggs. The eggs look cheerful on the surface of
the cake; they leave little bits of shell that cling to the
bread and have to be scraped off with a fingernail. Eating
casatiello is like going on a treasure hunt; each piece has an
array of different surprises inside!
I made some casatiello a couple of weeks ago, and it
reminded me of those Easter afternoons when we children strung
ropes between pine trees to make a swing, and took turns pushing
each other, making dares and teasing.The sky opened up wide,
wide, and if you faced towards the ocean, you couldn't see any
buildings or rooftops or people, just trees and grass and rocks
and water. It seemed like it might be possible, in that moment,
to let go and fly away.
For all of you who are celebrating the mothers in your life:
Happy Mother's Day! Make sure that you're doing the cooking
for your mamma on this special day. Just remember - the most
important gift you can give is your own presence. Be well... be
happy... enjoy the people around you and make the most of every
moment! I'll be thinking of you as I'm sipping limoncello on the
Amalfi Coast and eating langostinos drenched in garlic butter at
a beachfront restaurant in Positano. Ciao!
MOTHER'S DAY MENU
a lovely early dinner on Mother's Day, try these simple and
delicious recipes. Serve with hot, crusty bread and a bottle of
Watercress Salad with strawberries &
• 1 bunch watercress (substitution option: baby mixed greens)
• 1/2 red onion, sliced into very thin rings
• 1 blood orange, peeled and sliced into wedges
• 1 pint organic strawberries, rinsed and quartered
• Extra Virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 2 tsp. orange juice
• Freshly cracked black pepper & salt, to taste
Rinse watercress & pat dry; place in a large bowl, being
careful not to bruise the leaves. Add the onion, orange and
strawberries. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and lightly
toss to coat each piece. Squeeze lemon over the salad and toss
again. Repeat with the orange juice. Season to taste with salt
and pepper. Serve on a salad plate with a whole strawberry or an
orange wedge for garnish.
Creamy Risotto with Fava Beans &
• 1 1/2 c. arborio rice
• 2 shallots, peeled & diced
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1/4 cup plus 1 tblsp. olive oil
• 1 tblsp. butter
• 1/2 lb. Fava beans, steamed in the pod and shelled
• 3-4 cups organic chicken broth
• 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
• salt & pepper to taste
In a heavy skillet, saute half of the shallots in 1
tblsp. olive oil until soft, then add the rice, stirring
constantly until it becomes transparent. Watch closely - do not
let the rice does not turn color! Add the wine and keep
stirring, then add a ladle of stock and reduce heat. As the
stock absorbs into the rice, add another ladleful until the rice
is tender and chewy in texture.
Put the shelled fava beans into the blender, reserving 2
tblsp. for garnish. Blend together with 1/8 cup olive oil
and 1/4 cup broth until the beans are a lumpy-smooth
consistency. Remove and stir into the risotto. Stir in most of
the pecorino cheese, reserving a couple of tablespoons. Salt and
pepper to taste.
Saute the other half of the shallots in 1 tblsp. butter
until golden and crispy around the edges. Spoon the risotto into
serving bowls; sprinkle with reserved fava bean halves, crispy
shallots and pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.
Search the Recipe Database...
BITS & PIECES
spent a crazy weekend in Vegas recently. As usual, I stayed
at the Bellagio Hotel, which is simply the finest lodging in the
entire town. I could hardly wait to get up in the morning to run
down to Palio, the gorgeous coffee shop on the ground floor, for
an espresso. While I was there, in between frenzied bouts on the
casino floor, I tried unsuccessfully to hook up with my good
friend Julian Serrano, executive chef at Picasso - he is going
to be cooking for the James Beard Foundation Dinner on May 21st
at Draeger's in Menlo Park. For more information, check out:
I'm working on arranging a chef's dinner at Boboquivari's
with some of the Bay Area's finest chefs - Gary Danko,
Hubert Keller, Roland Passot, Giovanni & Donna Scala and many
others - to announce the launch of a new project I'm working on.
I'm collecting a series of recipes from all of my favorite chefs
and putting together a book called Duets... to showcase
our community of chefs that make up the local food scene and
celebrate love. More info will be coming soon. I promise!
When I get back from Italy...I'm going to have all kinds
of exciting things to share and other new projects to announce.
Loving Las Vegas
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