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Garlic!

Garlic!

 What you’re looking at is one of my favorite vegetables – broccoli raab — topped with lots of toasted garlic cloves.  It’s also got anchovies in the recipe, but honestly if you’re squeamish about them, you’d never know they’re in there. They kind of dissolve into the oil when you’re smashing them with a wooden spoon. But they do add a certain “umami” flavor that kicks up the taste a lot, and leaves you wondering “mmm” what’s that taste in there?
This recipe is similar to the way I’ve been making broccoli raab for decades, and it’s found in a book called “Garlic” by Robin Cherry. It’s an edible biography of the history, politics and mythology behind the world’s most pungent food.
My book group read it recently and gathered to talk about it, as well as prepare food from the 100 recipes included in the book.
Each of us brought a recipe from the book that featured garlic. One of the appetizers couldn’t be more garlic themed if you tried – roasted garlic. After the heads of garlic, drizzled with olive oil, roasted in the oven for 45 minutes, we smeared it on crackers and gobbled it down.

Next we feasted on gambas al ajillo – the classic Spanish tapas dish featuring shrimp, lots of garlic and a generous splash of brandy.

We had a garlic soup course too, a remarkably mild and sweet soup served with strands of vermicelli.

The main course was a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin, slathered with a mustard-garlic-herb crust before roasting, and served with a garlic horseradish sauce (not pictured here).

We couldn’t forget vegetables, and a few people brought those, including this roasted garlic and quinoa salad that included arugula, olives, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese.

The roasted eggplant with garlic and LOTS of olive oil was so delectable, I had to refrain from eating the whole plate.
The broccoli raab with toasted garlic and anchovies rounded out the vegetables and you can find the recipe below.
If you are a garlic lover, you will love this book, not only for the recipes, which are terrific, but for all the garlic legends and lore you’ll learn about, and how it’s viewed by different cultures around the world.
The book even includes a few dessert recipes featuring garlic, but we decided we’d prefer a little sorbet to cleanse the palate after a night of eating garlic in each course. It didn’t stanch my love of garlic in any way, in fact, eating all that garlic in different courses gave me appreciation of the different flavors garlic can have, from very mild to very pungent, depending on how long you cook it and how much you use.
The book also gives instructions on how to plant garlic, something I did last fall, after a friend of my son’s, who owns McCollum Orchards in upstate New York, gave me some produce from his farm, including several beautiful, big heads of garlic. Most of them we cooked in various recipes, but I saved a couple of bulbs to plant, separating the cloves and putting them in the ground last fall.
They’re coming up beautifully and should be ready to harvest in late June or early July. You can plant them now too, but the bulbs will undoubtedly be smaller than if you had planted them in the fall.
Even if you can’t grow your own garlic, try to find garlic grown locally for the freshest taste and highest quality.
I’m including the recipe for the broccoli raab, but you’ll have to buy the book for the other recipes pictured above. It’s well worth the read.
**********************
News Flash: We’re almost sold out for our memoir writing workshop on beautiful Lake Como. Hurry if you’d like the chance to learn how to improve your writing, eat memorable meals and have this view from your bedroom at Villa Monastero in Varenna each morning. For more information, contact me by email or go to www.italyinotherwords.com.
 Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Broccoli raab with toasted garlic and anchovies
from “Garlic” by Robin Cherry
makes 4 servings
1 1/2 lb. broccoli raab, stems peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the broccoli raab and cook it until it is bright green and barely tender, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer it to a colander and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking. Let the broccoli raab drain well.
Combine the oil and garlic in a sauté pan and heat it gently over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown and crisp. Lift the toasted garlic from the oil and set aside.
Add the anchovy fillets and red pepper flakes and sauté, smashing the anchovy with the back of a spoon until it dissolves. Add the drained broccoli raab and continue to sauté, tossing or stirring until it is evenly coated and very hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the dish with salt and pepper.
Serve the broccoli raab at once, topped with the toasted garlic.
N7’s Seared Scallops With Chive Oil

N7’s Seared Scallops with Chive Oil

A trip to New Orleans is always difficult for a food lover. Difficult in a good way, because there are so many talented chefs in the Big Easy, offering wonderful options ranging from Creole dishes to traditional Southern favorites to nouvelle fusion.
N7, labeled the country’s tenth best restaurant in 2016 by Bon Appétit magazine, fits the last description.
The food speaks with a definite French accent, and the restaurant’s name, N7, is a reference to the mythic road that ran from Paris to the border of Italy (now upgraded or replaced by the A77 autoroute).
Finding your way along a French road that was the equivalent of America’s Route 66 might be slightly easier than finding the restaurant N7, tucked away on Montegut Street, off of St. Claude Avenue in the city’s funky, hip Bywater neighborhood.
You might easily pass the entrance if you’re not looking for the red stenciled sign on a wooden doorway leading to N7’s courtyard.
Once inside, you can’t miss the red Citroen taking a prime spot along the gravel driveway.
 Much of the seating is outdoors, in a courtyard outfitted with casual style tables and chairs, surrounded by potted plants and vines.
But there is some seating indoors in a structure that at one time housed a tire shop, and long before that, a stable. Sitting at the bar now though, you might be convinced that you were in a bistro in Paris’ Marais neighborhood.
 The food whispers with other culinary accents too, like the oysters from Washington State, served with a sauce redolent of soy sauce — not unusual since the restaurant is owned by Japanese born Yuki Yamaguchi, and her husband, filmmaker Aaron Walker.
 Nearly half the menu is “can to table” seafood – which could be off putting to many. But in some European countries, particularly Spain, canned fish is a delicacy sought after as eagerly as fresh seafood.
We dug in with gusto to the sardines, swishing our bread through the can to glob on to every last bit of the sundried tomato sauce.
And after a squirt of lemon, the octopus in olive oil was gone in a flash too, accompanied by herb butter and a piquant red pepper paste.
The menu, although limited, does contain a few cooked items, such as the seared scallops with chive oil, pictured in the first photo. It was our favorite dish of the night (recipe below).
Another winner was the pork katsu with beet purée. The pork is dredged in flour, egg and finally panko (Japanese bread crumbs), then fried in hot oil and sliced. It rests on a luscious purée made with beets, apples, chicken broth and a little cream and yogurt.
 We also tried the duck breast a l’orange, again prepared with a hint of soy sauce in addition to the more traditional ingredients such as orange zest and orange juice.
 Desserts are very limited but seemed just right. Choose either French macaron cookies (not pictured) or the cheese plate, which contained three cheeses – a sweet gorgonzola, a sheep’s milk cheese and a creamy cow’s milk cheese. A few dried figs, cherries and nuts rounded out the platter.
 As night descended and the tables filled, lights twinkled around the perimeter of the courtyard.
Is it really the most romantic French restaurant in the world, as Bon Appétit claims?
I’m not so sure I buy that moniker, but it sure won over our hearts and I know we’ll be visiting N7 again the next time we’re in New Orleans.
 And if you’d like to take a real trip to Europe and a dreamy part of Italy, join me for a memoir writing retreat at Villa Monastero, in Varenna overlooking Lake Como. Only a couple of spots remain. You don’t have to be a professional writer to participate. Life is short, so don’t delay your dream. For more information, go to www.italyinotherwords.com or email me.
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

 

Seared Scallops with Chive Oil
From N7 Restaurant, New Orleans via Bon Appetit magazine

Ingredients

4 Servings

Chive Oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ cup olive oil

Potatoes

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • ½ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Scallops and Assembly

  • 16 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Finely grated Gruyère (for serving)

Preparation:

Chive Oil

Purée garlic, chives, salt, and oil in a blender until smooth.
Do Ahead: Chive oil can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Potatoes

Place
potatoes in a medium pot and pour in cold water to cover by 1″. Add 2
tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are
very tender but still hold their shape, 15–20 minutes (boiling will
cause potatoes to become waterlogged). Drain and pass hot potatoes
through a ricer (or use a masher) into a large bowl (do this right away;
cold potatoes will become gummy when mashed). Add cream and butter to
potatoes and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined and
mixture is smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Scallops and assembly

Pat
scallops dry with paper towels; season both sides with kosher salt.
Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high. Cook
half of scallops, undisturbed, until deep golden and caramelized, about 3
minutes. Turn and cook until barely golden on second side and just
cooked through, about 2 minutes. Repeat process with remaining 1 Tbsp.
oil and remaining scallops.
Top mashed potatoes with Gruyère and drizzle scallops with chive oil.
A Writing Retreat On Lake Como

A Writing Retreat On Lake Como

Join me for a week on Lake Como, to write about that childhood memory, travel experience, or any other event you’ve been wanting to capture in print.  Spend the mornings in writing instruction, and afternoons in leisure touring the area, eating exquisite foods and pinching yourself that it’s real.

Kathryn Abajian and I hold the writing retreat at Villa Monastero (pictured above) in Varenna, on the banks of Lake Como, Italy. We’re scheduled to repeat it September 24-30., 2017.

Come along with me for an armchair visit to learn about the villa and its origins. Maybe you’ll decide you’d like to spend a week here with us too, improving your writing skills, and partaking of the region’s foods, wines and nearby sights.

          
     The villa was founded as a Cistercian monastery in 1208, but its mission foundered in 1667, when the nuns left for Lecco, a city to the south. After three years, the villa was sold to the Mornico family, whose weath came from the iron mining industry in the area. The family converted the monastery to a noble residence, renaming it Villa Leliana. It was held by the Mornico family for nearly three centuries, when it was sold at the end of the 1800s to the German sheep owner Walter Kaas.
       
     But in the lead up to World War II, Kaas was declared an enemy of the state and was sent back to Germany, while Italy took over the villa. The villa was then used by the elite mountaineering unit of the Italy military called the Alpini, until it was sold in 1955 to biologist Marco de Marchi, who converted the villa into a scientific conference center.
         
     Marchi had no heirs however, and left the villa to the Italian government with the proviso that it be used for conferences of a scientific or artistic nature.        

     We hold daily sessions in a sun-filled conference room overlooking the lake, surrounded by beautiful artwork created by local artists. 
      The villa also has a larger conference room that served as a chapel when the nuns occupied the villa, and is the place where Nobel prize winner Enrico Fermi taught his last lesson.
                                     
     You can see evidence of a religious fresco is a small niche there, dating to the 13th century.
                                 
        Other rooms in the villa highlight both the Germanic artistic taste of Walter Kaas, as well as highly decorative furnishings bought by de Marchi.
                                   
      The villa’s extensive gardens, containing thousands of species of plants, are open to the public, but at night, we writers have the beauty of the grounds and the silence of the lake to ourselves.
        Most bedrooms have modern furnishings, some with views of the lake, and a few have balconies facing the lake. Sign up early to get priority for one of these.
     Writing instruction is in the morning, and you can set up your laptop by the lake in the afternoons to soak in some inspiration from the peaceful and lush surroundings.
        
     If you need a break from writing, the town of Varenna has a lot to offer, with inviting shops and cafes.
Can you picture yourself seated along the lake sipping a cappuccino, or a glass of Prosecco?
         
     Come with us if you like, on an afternoon visit to Vezio, and step back to the 11th century and a castle that was once home to Teodolinda, queen of the Lombards.
                                      
       From the castle, you get a magnificent view of the lake and the rooftops of Varenna below.
                        
     We also eat well on our retreats, and taste local wines and cheeses, like this taleggio.
           
    Dinners are all special, and we try different restaurants each night.
                       
     If you’d like to go further afield one afternoon, we’ll take you on the ferry to Bellagio, where the streets are as quaint as the shops are prolific.
                         
     You can even try your hand at watercolor, whether you’ve got experience or not. We can arrange a lesson for you.
     It’s not to soon to start thinking about reserving a spot for next year’s retreat at Villa Monastero – September 24-30, 2017. Check out our website at www.italyinotherwords.com for more details.
How many times have you heard the phrase “Life is short?” Well, it’s not just a saying, it’s true.
Live the dream. Now.
It’s a week you’ll never forget.

 

Villa Monastero

Villa Monastero

Villa Monastero is a beautiful villa surrounded by magnificent gardens, located in Varenna, on the banks of Lake Como, Italy. It’s also the place where Kathryn Abajian and I held our writing retreat last month, and where we’re scheduled to repeat it next year.

     Come along with me for a visit to learn about the villa and its origins. Maybe you’ll decide you’d like to spend a week here with us too, improving your writing skills, and partaking of the region’s foods, wines and nearby sights.
          
     The villa was founded as a Cistercian monastery in 1208, but its mission foundered in 1667, when the nuns left for Lecco, a city to the south. After three years, the villa was sold to the Mornico family, whose weath came from the iron mining industry in the area. The family converted the monastery to a noble residence, renaming it Villa Leliana. It was held by the Mornico family for nearly three centuries, when it was sold at the end of the 1800s to the German sheep owner Walter Kaas.
       

 

     But in the lead up to World War II, Kaas was declared an enemy of the state and was sent back to Germany, while Italy took over the villa. The villa was then used by the elite mountaineering unit of the Italy military called the Alpini, until it was sold in 1955 to biologist Marco de Marchi, who converted the villa into a scientific conference center.
         
     Marchi had no heirs however, and left the villa to the Italian government with the proviso that it be used for conferences of a scientific or artistic nature. This year, we received approval to hold our writing retreat, “Italy in Other Words” at Villa Monastero, after conducting it in Abruzzo for the last several years.
       

 

     We hold daily sessions in a sun-filled conference room overlooking the lake, surrounded by beautiful artwork created by local artists.
          
      The villa also has a larger conference room that served as a chapel when the nuns occupied the villa, and is the place where Nobel prize winner Enrico Fermi taught his last lesson.
                                     
     You can see evidence of a religious fresco is a small niche there, dating to the 13th century.
                                 
        Other rooms in the villa highlight both the Germanic artistic taste of Walter Kaas, as well as highly decorative furnishings bought by de Marchi.
                                   
      The villa’s extensive gardens, containing thousands of species of plants, are open to the public, but at night, we writers have the beauty of the grounds and the silence of the lake to ourselves.
       

Most bedrooms have modern furnishings, some with views of the lake, and a few have balconies facing the lake. Sign up early to get priority for one of these.

        
     Writing instruction is in the morning, and you can set up your laptop by the lake in the afternoons to soak in some inspiration from the peaceful and lush surroundings.
        P

If you need a break from writing, the town of Varenna has a lot to offer, with inviting shops and cafes.

         

     Come with us if you like, on an afternoon visit to Vezio, and step back to the 11th century and a castle that was once home to Teodolinda, queen of the Lombards.
                                      

From the castle, you get a magnificent view of the lake and the rooftops of Varenna below.

                        
     We also eat well on our retreats, and taste local wines and cheeses, like this taleggio.
           

Dinners are all special, and we try different restaurants each night.

                       

If you’d like to go further afield one afternoon, we’ll take you on the ferry to Bellagio, where the streets are as quaint as the shops are prolific.

                         
     You can even try your hand at watercolor, whether you’ve got experience or not. We can arrange a lesson for you.
       

It may seem early, but it’s not to soon to start thinking about reserving a spot for next year’s retreat at Villa Monastero.  We plan to hold it from September 18-24, 2016. Check out our website at www.italyinotherwords.com for more details.