Brown Bread Ice Cream

Baking crumbled bread with the caramel, a pinch of salt, and just a tablespoon of butter produces sweet crumbs that stay crisp once added to the ice cream. The ice cream recipe is based on the one I learned from Monsieur Alex Frolla, the pastry chef when I did my three summer seasons working at the Sporting Club and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

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Pane Sciocco - Salt-Free Tuscan Bread

This week, Florentines celebrate the feast day of San Lorenzo, the patron saint of cooks. The tradition of preparing salt-free bread in Tuscany doubtless developed at a time when there was an acute shortage of salt, after which people became accustomed to the bland flavor of pane sciocco (SHOW-ko). It’s amusing that sciocco also means foolish or “good for nothing” in Italian.

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Muffuletta

If there’s such a thing as a world-class sandwich, this is it. A real muffuletta from Central Grocery is so good that it should be considered a crime to leave New Orleans without having one. The olive salad derives from the Sicilian tradition of marinating still slightly bitter newly brined olives in oil, vinegar, garlic, and other seasonings, including chopped celery, to sweeten and flavor them.

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ITALIAN KALE PIE (TORTA DI CAVOLO NERO)

In Italy, where they make savory pies from almost every vegetable imaginable, kale is a popular choice, especially in Tuscany where it’s known as cavolo nero or black cabbage. Teamed up with pancetta, onion, garlic, ricotta, eggs, and grated pecorino, its slightly bitter flavor is complemented rather than hidden. This is a great solo dish or delicious accompaniment to plain grilled meat or fish.

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Two Salad Pitas

Back when I was in high school, my friend Sandy and I would often grab a commuter train in New Jersey and head to Greenwich Village. We spent $3.00 on lunch at Amy’s on University Place, a vegetarian sandwich and salad shop where we always ordered a salad pita and helped ourselves to the added bonus: coolers of free spring water or mint tea. One of the pitas that follow is filled with a standard Greek salad mixture (like the one at Amy’s) while the other has a Turkish-style eggplant salad that I make all summer long.

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