Mirepoix 4.2

Mirepoix 4.2

Mirepoix -- From the French, a mix of aromatics that provide the savory foundation of a recipe. From The City Cook, a periodic report on things that have been collecting on my desk.

I'm just back from a two-and-a-half week trip to Italy. It was all-holiday and it was wonderful. My husband and I rented an apartment in Florence for the first two weeks and then spent four days in Rome on our way home. We had rented the apartment before, about five years ago, so we knew we could count on a fully equipped Italian kitchen, plus a huge window that overlooked a flowering magnolia tree in the next door garden of the Palazzo Antinori.

I'm going to write more in the coming weeks about the experience of shopping in the local mercatos, fornos, and alimentaris (i.e., open air markets, bakeries, and little neighborhood food shops) and especially some new things I learned about buying olive oils and vinegars. In the meantime I'm still unpacking, forcing myself back to the gym after all that gelati, and dealing with the wall of work that inevitably greets us after a long vacation.

When we left New York for Italy it was still chilly. But coming home, we found spring had assuredly arrived, and that means local produce is on its way.

Fresh Ideas For What To Cook

With all the great ingredients coming into our Greenmarkets and CSAs, there's still the inevitable conundrum of "what's for dinner?" If you need some inspiration, here are two of my favorite places to visit:

Food52.com. I love the community of cooks that have come together at this site edited by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. They recently did a competition called "The Recipe You Want To Be Remembered For" and I was intrigued by some of the choices (e.g.,bubblegum marshmallows). And equally stumped by how I'd answer that question. If you cook often for friends and family, it would be interesting to ask others what they love most of what you make for them.

Saveur.com. The website for the magazine with the same name, Saveur.com is generous with recipes, including ones from the current newsstand issue. The May 2011 cover story is "Secrets of Mexican Cooking" and many of the recipes are on the website. But I'm turning to their collection of 22 artichoke recipes to make tasty use of the two huge and gorgeous artichokes I bought a day ago at Whole Foods. Having just come back from Rome where we ate artichokes daily, I'm nostalgic for the deep fried whole carciofo alla giudia, a specialty of Jewish Roman cuisine, although I'm more likely to do Saveur's recipe for Braised Veal Breast with Artichokes, leaving the crispy carciofo as a flavor memory.

James Beard Award Winners

A final bravo to two authors who are friends of The City Cook and who have shared their passion and expertise in our podcast series.

Paul Greenberg won for Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, in the "Writing and Literature" category.

And Mark Bitterman, author of Salted: A Manifesto On The World's Most Essential Ingredient, With Recipes, in the "Reference and Scholarship" category, although this makes it sound like a chemistry treatise -- it's not -- it's lively and very engaging, just as Mark is in his interview with us.  See our links.





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