Monday, November 8, 2010

These are the "good old days"

"Look at the sky," remarked my son as we did dishes by an open window.

"November is said to have the prettiest sunsets." There's a happy sigh when you hear a statement like that from your 23 year old son. That maybe in the space of your imperfect life, you did something right. And he was right. It was worth the time to let the dishes wait and appreciate the sky. Because tomorrow - it will be a memory. Of the good old days. But this evening the blues faded into soft pale pinks with red on the horizon and promise. A promise of a new day to be savored.
"If you long for the good old days, turn off the air conditioning." - Griff Niblick
I love that line and have used it in my hugely imperfect play Betwixt and Betweened - a play that focuses on being a teen throughout the last 8 decades. A play that is near and dear to me - all the tales are culled from true life stories and it may be messy now - but one day - I will get it right. One day. It's part nostalgia and part today. As is most of my cooking.
I cannot say a lot of Italian cooking went on last week. It definitely was steeped in nostalgia. In foods from the good old days which are of course yesterday, today and tomorrow. And almost all of my cooking came from blogs.

Except for this one. This was a "use up your red peppers, your dregs of cheese and wallow in fuzzy slipper comfort."
For each stuffed (vegetarian) pepper: (2 halves)
  • 1 slice of stale bread (I used a hunk of wheat bread). crusts removed
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1-2 ounces favorite melty cheese (I used fontina)
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/8 cup chopped Italian parsley (thyme and basil also work well)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place bread (crusts removed) in milk. Let sit for five minutes.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray.
  4. Halve and seed your pepper.
  5. Press excess milk from bread and chop coarsely.
  6. Add a chopped tomato to the bread, coarsely-chopped fontina, Parmigiano and parsley.
  7. Gently combine. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 3-4 minutes and serve.

Panko-Crusted Chicken in Maple-Mustard Sauce

Maples are tapped for syrup in March. But for me, they always signal autumn. The thick, sweet, slightly-spicy syrup greets you after a walk in leaves -a walk that brought you past autumn bonfires, haystacks and cornstacks. A walk that asks for a little heartiness without the heavy.
I found this recipe at Lynda's Recipe Box. I cook a lot (read: A LOT) with boneless chicken breasts. The mixture of the stout sweet nectar and the spice from the mustard turns a mundane chicken breast into a destination. The protective nutty-brown coating of Panko begs to be explored. And because life is hectic, a dinner that comes together in 20 minutes must always be tried. Try it. (You'll like it.)
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Reeni's blog Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice yielded me two soups for the week. (I am a soup-o-holic - I will happily slurp soup at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and will never understand why people don't consider soup a breakfast meal. Warm, nourishing and satisfies so you don't need a doughnut break.)
I loved that the soups used (or I could use) evaporated skim milk. I am taking a break from cream. I am a muffin -a giant muffin at that. So am exploring options without resorting to "non-fat products" because - they're not real. They don't do things like - melt. Ignore the bacon in the photo. As I told you earlier - I am imperfect.
In truth, I usually am a broth person. But my family is not enamoured of broth and pasta 7 days a week. (Works for me - some wilted greens, a little Parmigiano-Reggiano... really, I don't see a problem.) The soups were scented with nostalgia. The good old days. A day of coming home tired as opposed to weary. So deep-in-the-muscle satisfying that I didn't even need a piece of dark chocolate... for at least two hours.
Here's the recipe link: Loaded Baked Potato Soup

And then there is Reeni's Broccoli Cheeese Soup

From scratch. Flecked and studded with broccoli and well, yes cheese and yes, I know - the "hugely imperfect muffin" label strikes again. Am I fooling myself that the lack of cream makes up for the abundance of cheese? There are things that comfort: Bach, cannolis, Julian Bream on the lute, watching waves, sunsets and soup - this soup. And cheese. If you are part rodent which I apparently am. I wsh iceberg lettuce would comfort. (Long sigh denoting that really - it does not.) I made a double recipe thinking it would last another day. Silly me.
Here's the link to the Broccoli-Cheese Soup: Reeni's Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup
And for dessert... which I must speed through because I am late for a Weight Watchers meeting... if I decide to go.... if I'm not fooling myself...
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
From Proud Italian Cook. I am cooking my way through Marie's blog. I've offered to be her apprentice. I'll be her tester, her taster and will be first in line to buy a cookbook should she ever decide to create one.
This is cozy nostalgia. You enjoy, you are satisfied, you are blanketed with softness. You consider having this with your soup for breakfast. And why not? Pumpkin, spices, eggs, bread - it's a balanced breakfast, a soul-soothing dessert, easier than pie, and... made without cream. I will indugle weekly.
Marie made it in individual ramekins. My ramekins seemed to be all over the house with Halloween treats and... white vinegar (you don't want to know) so I did it in one. She topped hers with pecans - and oh - please just go look for yourself. You will feel compelled to make it and you won't be disappointed. It's worth making just for the spiced aroma in the kitchen. Last I checked aroma does not contain calories.
Here's the link: (Consider it for Thanksgiving) Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Vegetable Galettes

These vegetable galettes with an impossibly soft crunch are from La Tartine Gourmande - just the softest, prettiest blog that is part nostalgia and a celebration of today. I hugely changed her recipe - the herbs, the vegetables, the flour and it was wonderful. I think it is hard to ruin her galettes (unless you add cream) - and it is a wonderful recipe for jumping off and creating.

Serve the galettes with any roasted meats or appetizer or eggs or with your broth during breakfast. I've made them twice and have reheated them for a no-cream midday snack.
And here's the link to the recipe: Vegetable Galettes
Having confessed just the tip of my imperfections, I will add that I am also remiss about posting awards that come my way. I post infrequently, get obsessed with the post and remember later and for that I apologize. Many of you have been kind to me and I am not ungrateful. I am often unconscious.
Because I am a sometime theatre director who casts kids - I hate leaving people out. Casting is gruelling enough. In the past, I have often offered the award to any of my followers. It is what I will continue to do. I would like to thank Beth from Of Muses and Meringues for this award.
Beth is a writer and her blog is indeed filled with muses, recipes and I think you will like her light touch, creativity and optimism. I do hope you will visit her.
And spend some time - gazing at the sky.

While your maple chicken-soups-pumpking bread pudding-red peppers and galette cook.


FOODESSA said...

There are two of nature's moments I could spend hours gazing at...the sky and the rain that falls from it. With any gorgeous sunrise or sunset...I'm practically willing to give up dessert...well at least maybe jello ;o) LOL

Claudia...what a roundup of dishes you've tried...eating at your home sounds incredibly fulfilling ;o)

Thanks for sharing and have a great time rincing your eyes out at your gorgeous sky.

Ciao for now,

Juliana said...

Wow, Claudia, so many dishes...they all look so yummie...I'd love to try the pumpkin bread pudding in spite of not being a big fan of bread pudding :-) The chicken panko look SO I mention, they all look very yummie!

My Little Space said...

Claudia, winter is getting close. And more soup is on the way huh! I think it would be great for the winter time breakfast but not here. It's hot over here and I prefer light breakfast. Oh everything looks so luscious. What a feast. Thank you for sharing. Hope you're enjoying your day.
Blessings, Kristy

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

I love that your a soup aholic I can eat soup every day too, the loaded baked potato would be great if it tasted good without onion, which I am told would make it bland. Those chicken crusted with panko look fabulous, I am not sure what I would eat last here, soups first though, your 23 yr old is a lucky guy to have a mom like you what a spread!

Mister Meatball said...

Loaded baked potato soup?


Pass me the pepper mill -- and the Lipitor.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Congratulations on your award Claudia. What a lovely roundup of dishes. That yummy galette and a bowl of the loaded baked potato soup would make me a very happy girl tonight for dinner as the weather is cool and crisp.

Jen_from_NJ said...

Everything looks so good! I am really eyeing that loaded baked potato soup - oh my!

Lyndas recipe box said...

Your quote about the good ole days really made me smile. I think we may have forgotten some things that happened in those days.
So glad you enjoyed the panko crusted chicken.We've eaten several times since I posted it. But really, I want some of those soups! I'm really a soupaholic when the weather turns cool, so these are bookmarked. And the stuffed red pepper looks addictive. Must make.Thanks Claudia.

Reeni said...

You've been cooking up a delicious storm Claudia! The pumpkin bread pudding really caught my eye - I was just telling someone that I never made one...this would be a good place to start. Thank you for making my soups! And reminding me to stop and enjoy the beauty around me!

Kim - Liv Life said...

Oh my goodness you have a number of wonderful recipes here!! Those peppers in particular appealed to me.
Loved the story about your son! Mine is 14, and moments like that are so special

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wow, Claudia, you have been cooking up a storm! Everything looks so delicious and versatile in a mix and match way. I am a big fan of soup, chicken breasts, and vegetables of all kinds, so each recipe is one I can use over and over.
Marie's pumpkin bread pudding looks "out of this world" good! Perfect dessert for this time of the year. I am also waiting for her cookbook! :)

La Bella Cooks said...

The sky has yet to change much here in northern California. Maybe I need to come out your way to find a lovely sunset. All of your recipes have me eagerly awaiting my dinner time. Lovely!


Beautifully written! Everything looks so good--especially the maple-mustard chicken and the pumpkin bread pudding! Mmmmm.

Velva said...

November is a perfect month almost everywhere to turn off your a/c and open your windows. I love the cooler air. I feel rejuvenated. The air inspires me to cook.

I have a 21-year old son ( a 13 year old too) and I can totally appreciate, and relate to the sharing of that moment. I am waiting to experience it, but I can imagine it.

Kim said...

I have high hopes that my (almost) 4 year old son grows to be a young man who helps his mom do the dishes. I think you definitely did something right! I also love that mentioned the November sunsets. They are indeed some of the prettiest I've seen. Do you suppose it's because all the leaves are gone and we can see better?

You've really been cooking up some goodies this week. I love all of it, but the maple mustard chicken is calling my name. And those soups - yes! Both of them look so comforting. I have to agree with you. Why would you eat cold cereal for breakfast when you could have a bowl of warm, comforting, cheesy goodness?

Part rodent - ha ha!

Unknown said...

First off, bravo to you for raising a son that appreciates beautiful sunsets. Can he wait about 20 years for my daughter to grow up?

I'm so taken by some of these dishes that I don't even know where to start. They're all wonderful. I think I'd have to try the loaded baked potato soup and that chicken in maple-mustard sauce. Holy cow, that sounds great (and looks delicious over rice).

Proud Italian Cook said...

The apple dosen't fall far from the tree, obviously your son appreciates life like you do Claudia. What a roundup of meals you had, I'm with you on the soup thing! You're the sweetest, you always say the nicest things.
Big hug to you!

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

Claudia, you had me gazing at the sky and dreaming about how we rub off on those around us! You are one of those friends I hope to meet one day! I like soup for breakfast too!

Liz (Simple Italian Cooking) said...

Ok, you've put me to shame. I've got to try the pumpkin dish - my husband loves pumpkin! It's so nice to see other people who love to cook Italian food.

Quay Po Cooks said...

I LOVE italian food and Italian people. Their food is like the people, FABULOUS! This is a great post with so many tasty recipes! Like mother daughter but in your case is like mother like son:D

Peggy said...

Such a beautiful set of dishes!

Dimah said...

wow! those all look so good!

Anonymous said...

These are some terrific dishes to feature! I need to try that Maple-Mustard Sauce too and the pumpkin bread pudding :) I love your advice about gazing at the sky - I certainly plan on doing that today, it's such a gorgeous day outside!

Hannah said...

Any sort of stuffed veggie is just so much fun, I'll have to try these peppers! It makes for a great presentation, and is a great way to get more veggies on the plate.

Victor said...

My first attempt on stuffed vegetables was last year and didn't really it. I will give it a try again.

Anne said...

I just love coming here! Gives me so many recipe ideas.

From the Kitchen said...

After looking over your post, I think I've found my menu for the next several days. Delicious!


UrMomCooks said...

Wow, really enjoyed the food journey! You had me at the peppers, but all the recipes look delicious! And I agree, November is a lovely month for sunsets - we are planning a sunset wedding for next November at our house right now!!!

Wanda..... said...

You have so many great recipes in this post Claudia...I will fix the chicken tomorrow...I see Lynda has a lot of chicken recipes. Your peppers remind me of things I throw together with leftovers myself!

Monet said...

What a beautiful opening to your post. I know that you were and still are an amazing are such a stunning person, inside and out! This collection of warm and comforting food was making me want to curl up with a bowl of soup and a loaf of bread. Thank you so much for sharing! Have a beautiful Wednesday full of laughter and love!

Heather S-G said...

You've been busy! Everything looks mouthwatering...but I have to say I need some of that fuzzy slipper comfort today :D YUM!!!

Kristen said...

What a lovely post.

All of the food you made last week looks delicious. It's so much fun to see bloggers making each other's recipes.

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

Excellent recap of wonderful dishes - congrats for your award!
The panko crusted chicken is ideal for my dinner, great the spicy syrup :)



denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

I no longer enjoy the luxury of washing dishes by a window to the sky *sigh* Dishes be damned!

Lovely recipes all, and interesting blogs, but the loaded potato soup stands out heads and shoulders for me :)

Elly said...

Your recipes look so good!
I am an italian foodblogger with the passion for baking and I really like your blog.
I hope to hear from you soon... ;D

Angie's Recipes said...

Where I should start....from sky, vegetable galettes, to your soups...words fail me. You are living your life so well. :-))

rosasdolcevita said...

Wow Claudia! It sounds like you had a amazing culinary journey last week. Everything sounds so delicious, but my favourite is the galettes.

PS: Your son sounds wise beyond his years. It's good to see that he learned at a very young age to stop for a moment and enjoy life. :-)

Beth said...

Thank you for the lovely tribute, Claudia!

Your son sounds like a wonderful guy. I've never thought about that before, but now I'll pay attention to those November sunsets.

Your play sounds intriguing. Teens over the last eight decades -- you've got a lot to work with!

katie- said...

i have a red pepper in the fridge that is thisclose to shriveling--i know what i am going to do with it now! thanks!

Barbara GF said...

What a lovely view you have, Claudia, and what a sweet son - lucky you! And lucky them for having a mom who can whip up such a creative batch of dishes. Cheese is comfort food - one of the major food groups in life!

mr. pineapple man said...

so many good food! lucky u!

Nancy said...

How sweet! Looks like you guys ate very well this week. And I heartily agree with your assertion that there is absolutely no problem with soup for breakfast :)

OysterCulture said...

What a delicious assortment of recipes - I love Reeni's blog for all the fantastic soup ideas, Definitely too many to keep up with for me. Congratulations on your well deserved reward. You offer so much in your posts.

chow and chatter said...

what a week of amazing food impressed and lovely memories i think your life is great too hugs Rebecca

Lori Lynn said...

I'm a soup-a-holic too. You might also try soy milk as a substitute. I recently make a spicy udon soup with it and it was perfect. Hope to post it soon.

Katy ~ said...

You are outdone yourself! I wouldn't know where to begin, this is a feast for the eyes as well as for the belly.