Sadie’s Gingersnaps

Sadie's Gingersnaps (1 of 26)

If you’re looking for something homemade this weekend but are ready to give elaborate cooking a rest, here’s a treat, Sadie’s Gingersnaps.  The eponymous Sadie is the grandmother of our great friend and traveling companion, Bette Ann (BA) Harris.  Several weeks ago BA arrived for dinner at our house with a plastic bag of these oversize ginger snaps.  Score!  There’s an embargo on our house for cookies, unless we make them ourselves.  It ensures quality control and minimizes temptation.  You can have a treat… as long as you make it yourself.  We do, however, issue culinary visas to all friends bearing baked goods.  After all, how often do friends show up at your door with homemade cookies?  These were definitely worth the wait.

The L Word: Lobster-Andouille Stuffies

Lobster Stuffy-62-16194

A “stuffy,” just in case you don’t know, is the Rhode Island term of art for a baked stuffed clam, although I can vouch for its use as far north as southern Massachusetts.  Typically, buttered and seasoned breadcrumbs do-si-do with chopped clam, usually but not always) atop a quahog on the half-shell and baked.  It’s a filling, poor man’s seafood treat, which is not to denigrate it, just to note that it may not be the place to go if you’re looking to sate your bivalve love.  Jody’s stuffy climbs up a notch on the menu, subbing lobster for clams, and adding andouille sausage and green pepper for a Cajun twist.  Lobster-Andouille Stuffy – the stuffy for our times.

Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano

Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano -1

I met my first leek in high school.  I was a senior and the leek was in Julia Child’s Vichyssoise.  I wanted to be an instant convert, but it just wasn’t happening for me.  Potatoes, these funny sci-fi onions, cream, the cold temperature–it was just too far off the map.  Three years later I gave leeks another try.  This time I was a student in Switzerland and the leeks were baked in a gratin with cream and Gruyère.  Whammo!  Direct hit.  The Swiss also love potato-leek soup, hot and cold, so I got plenty of opportunity to endear myself to this long allium.   As a young householder I braised them with chicken stock and cream, while Jody has always been a bit more restrained, using evoo.  As I get older I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to Jody’s side of the fence, ergo this week’s post, Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano.


Panelle TGF-1

Last month I attended a special dinner at Rialto featuring dishes from Fabrizia Lanza’s wonderful 2012 COMING HOME TO SICILY.   Everything was cooked by the Rialto Team, under Fabrizia’s direction, whom Jody had met years ago on a biking adventure in Italy.  You may know Fabrizia as the daughter of Anna Tasca Lanza, founder of the famed Sicilian cooking school Case Vecchie.  Art historian turned passionate cook and cultural advocate for her native land, Fabrizia now leads Case Vecchie, writes about Sicilian food and is building a video archive of Sicilians engaged in culinary traditions increasingly imperiled as the outside world seeps into island life.  

As usual, I got held up, arrived late for the dinner, and slid into my chair with a longing glance toward everyone else’s empty appetizer plates.  At that moment Fabrizia, a slender patrician woman who looked as though she might have as easily discussed the subtleties of Botticelli’s brush technique as she did the culinary pleasures of wild fennel, was  giving the room a brief introduction to Sicilian cuisine and I didn’t want to cause a stir by asking anyone to explain what I’d missed.  The menu card next to my plate simply identified the course as Panelle.  A waiter took pity on me and few moments later set a saucer with two triangles of something in front of me.  Without my glasses I might have mistaken them for shortbread.  I took a bite.  A rich toasty flavor at once comforting and tantalizing elusive filled my mouth.  The triangles had thin crispy edges and a bit of creaminess in their thickest part, the center. “What are these?” I asked Jody, who said hi on her way back into the kitchen with Fabrizia.  “Chickpea flour,” she said.  “And water and salt.”  “That’s it?”  “That’s it,” she said, “Amazing, aren’t they?”  And that is how I had my first taste of the subject of this week’s post, Panelle.