Thursday, February 21, 2013
Thursday, December 15, 2011
My mother had a kitchen in our basement that I only recall being used for this Christmas Eve spectacular. The fish arrived early in the morning from Abel’s Fish Market, packed in wooden crates filled with chopped ice.
Shrimp, clams, calamari (squid), polpi (octopus) and lobsters were my mother’s responsibility. Baccala (dried salt cod) and eels were the specialties of my Aunt Susie.
These days, the only remnant of the seven fishes that still graces our Christmas Eve table has been shrimp, served cold with cocktail sauce, just as my mother did. But when my mouth started watering as I listened to the radio on my way to work, I realized I needed to recreate at least one other of my mother’s dishes this year to satisfy what is clearly more than a fond memory.
I decided it would be octopus. Succulent morsels of purple and white flesh, dressed lightly in olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and garlic. Most people cringe when I describe the huge pots of water simmering on my mother’s downstairs range with these many-tentacled creatures bobbing gently. It took a few phone calls to locate octopus in my very New England town, but I succeeded in cornering four of the twenty pounds the fish manager at my local supermarket had managed to secure. The octopus arrives next Friday, just in time for Christmas Eve. This is how I intend to prepare it:
4 pounds of octopus, cleaned and rinsed
1 whole garlic clove
1 bay leaf
1 cup celery, chopped in small dice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 4 lemons
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to the boil. Holding the octopus with tongs, plunge it into the boiling water for 10 seconds. Repeat two more times, then return octopus to the pot and boil about an hour together with a clove of garlic and bay leaf. When done, you should be able to pierce it easily with a fork.
Allow the octopus to cool and then cut it into small chunks.
Blend the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and chopped garlic.
Toss the octopus with the celery and the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and garlic mixture.
Drizzle with additional olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Yikes! I've been away a long time--enmeshed in the exhilarating and sometimes exhausting process of launching my new book, Across the Table. I've been traveling, meeting with readers and answering mail. As I've told the wonderful people who take the time to send me a note, I cherish every word. Knowing that my book has touched someone is one of the special rewards of being a writer.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
I came home late this evening after a brain-numbing day reviewing my organization's Form 990--the tax return for nonprofit organizations. Traffic on the Mass Pike was at a standstill for awhile, an ominous reminder that my Friday evening commute lengthens as the weather turns warm. While waiting for things to start moving, my stomach started growling and I began to long for the comfort of a bowl of pasta. When I arrived at last in the kitchen, it was easy to pull together a staple of my mother's repertoire--pasta e fagioli--or, as it is commonly pronounced, "pasta fazool." A can of chick peas, a jar of chopped tomatoes, an onion, some garlic, basil and parsley, and a pound of pasta. We lingered over supper, as I hope you will too. Here's a simple version:
Monday, April 26, 2010
I've been busy building my new website (soon to be launched--stay tuned), so today's writing prompt has been pulled from the pages of The New York Times. Some writers cull their ideas from the headlines; these prompts are the first lines of news articles. Have fun.