Panzanella

Summer! A magical land of flip flops, sunshine, rock & roll, olive oil, zinfandel, barbecues, sunflowers, golden sunsets, the laughter of children, hummingbirds, wild salmon from Alaska, zucchini blossoms, sand stuck to your feet, pink wine, watermelon, baseball, baby deer in the park, cold beer, and, most of all, tomatoes.

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Summer makes me think of Tuscany. Once, while strolling through Florence with my sister Andrea on a blazing hot summer day, I was wishing I had some sunglasses. The very moment I had the thought, I glanced at a trashcan we happened to be passing, and there sitting on top of a pile of refuse was a pair of almost-new, round John Lennon-y sunglasses. And, they were rose-colored glasses! Tuscany is sort of magical that way. More

The Siren Song of Summer

There’s a lot going on this week — summer nearing, the last few days of school. The calendar is full, my cooking commitments many.

Savoring my last bite of lunch before the floodgates open

Savoring my last bite of lunch before the floodgates open

As I sit here this warm afternoon eating one of my favorite summer lunches — crusty multi-grain bruschetta with ripe heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan reggiano — I think of the next several days. It began this morning, as pal Ernie and I tried to go to the amazing, miraculous Santa Monica Seafood to redeem Groupons we’d purchased to make a seafood dinner this evening. More

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In a word: crappy, that’s how.

But every year come March, hope springs eternal, and I plant the spring garden.

The first of my spring greens

The first of my spring greens

Preparations for this year’s garden included fortifying it against one of last year’s greatest foes — the chickens. The very first year I put terraces in on our back hillside, it was a lost cause — the hens took over, scratching, rolling in the soft soil, sunning themselves, and nibbling young greens until nothing was left but stem. So I fenced the enclosure in. But while not acrobatic flyers, the most athletic of the chickens soon figured out they could fly up and over. So this year I extended the height another few feet with additional chicken wire. Even still, every so often I inexplicably find a chicken inside. More

Let Them Eat Flowers

We stopped by our friend Heather’s house the other evening for a visit. On the counter were two enormous zucchini.

“Did someone leave those on your porch?” I asked.

“My client gave them to me,” she replied.

How generous of them, I thought to myself.

“They’re too big to eat, right?”

“Well,” I pondered, “you could make a parmagiana kind of thing with them. I’ve got a good recipe for Greek zucchini balls. But those would make about 400.”

Zucchini blossoms

I’m always wary of the food-giving generosity of friends, neighbors, loved ones, strangers and clients. More

The Perfect Summer Pasta

Sometimes I’m pressed for time and have to come up with a meal quick. And often, without the leisure to peer at my fridge or sit around thinking about the possibilities, I make the best food. This is one such dish, breathtaking in its simplicity.

Penne l'estate with glass of rosé

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