Lazy Sunday


We didn’t start our excursion yet, so I have time to write about dinner last night.

I was so thrilled to read the pre-ordained menu for June 28th and see Maccheroni al Forno. It’s baked pasta and cheese. It’s Mac & Cheese. It’s a gift from above. I’ve known how to make it since I was tall enough to watch my grandma make it, so it’s the easiest dinner ever. I used Smoked Gouda, Pecorino Toscana, Formaggio a Pasta Filata, Asiago, and Leedammer. My favorites were the Gouda and Pecorino Toscana. I didn’t like how the Leedammer tasted like Swiss, probably because I don’t like Swiss. I think it was the Leedammer, anyway. My cousin would be shaking his head at me right now. His managerial duties at Zingerman’s Delicatessen demand a pretty high level of knowledge about cheese, which he has more than obtained. If I’d asked him, he probably would have known exactly which Italian cheeses go best together for this kind of dish. I’m not even sure if Formaggio a Pasta Filata is a real cheese- that’s just what the packaging says. Shows how much I know.

Anyway, the dish was delicious. You can see before and after pictures. I tried so hard to stop the milk inside from boiling over and making a smoky mess in the oven, but my efforts were to no avail. Looks like I’ll be scrubbing the oven on Monday. I’m certainly not doing it today. It’s my day off.

The pork chops you see in the picture of the stove turned out rather terribly. The marinade and therefore the overall taste were delicious, but I overlooked them. I had hoped they’d be like the veal I cooked the other day that got more tender as it stewed in its own juices for an hour. I didn’t cook the chops for more than 12-15 mins overall, including browning at a high heat, but they still ended up pretty tough. Everyone but the Professor was a good sport about it, though, and ate them like they weren’t little pork bricks.

I made two kinds of vegetables because I’m feeding so many people. The beans and zucchini are from the garden! They were the tied with the Maccheroni al Forno for the tastiest part of the meal. I made the same lemon egg sauce for the beans and I baked the zucchini boats with mozzarella on top for some tasty crunch. I’ve made both of them before.

I took the picture of the pots on the stove to show you all how frustrating it can be to cook here. I needed to blanch the beans, so I had to boil a lot of water. I also had to be cooking the chops at the same time. Three things on a stove shouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s nearly impossible on this stove. It takes nearly constant vigilance to ensure everything cooks evenly. Since the pan on the right only gets heat on the left half, I have to remember to rotate the chops quite frequently. The pan in the middle gets hot only in the middle, so I can’t fit as many in as I want to and I have to keep giving the food turns in the middle where the cooking is most efficient. The water takes forever to boil because it’s also getting only half heat, at most. I WANT A BIGGER RANGE. When I have my own house, or if I ever get a chance to build and design my own kitchen, I’m spending the most money I can on the stovetop. It’s worth it.

We went to Portoferraio last night for a drink and ended up at a lively bar. It was great people watching, and the drinks were good and cheap. There was a DJ, and while no one was dancing, the atmosphere was still really fun. We aren’t going to Pizza 2001 tonight so we’ll have to figure out a new place to eat. I’ll write about our adventures tomorrow!

P.S: the plums in the picture are the bane of my existence. There’s tons of them and it’s been decreed that I use them to make something like pie or jam, etc. on top of everything I do already. Anyone have an easy, non-time-consuming plum recipe I can use to appease the masses?

7 thoughts on “Lazy Sunday

  1. Ari, Mr. VDH here….does your IPad work on the island? I did a google search on “plum recipes” and a ton of recipes came up using “Italian Plums”!!!….everything from spiced walnut yogurt sauce on grilled plums to an easy plum crumble…prep time 15mins but 45 mins in the oven….to an easy open faced plum tart….provided you have frozen premade pie crust in Italy(doubtful). Also plums used in salads are good… If your iPad doesn’t work, I will send you the recipes once Parker or Dman show me how!

    Sarah and I….and the whole family have greatly enjoyed your blog….and is the Professor enjoying the Carbonara recipe I taught you? You are a great photographer and an even better writer!

    Keep the posts coming and have a great time….Italy is my favorite country!


    Sent from my iPad



  2. One more thing….to alleviate the cook top issues…maybe use a barbecue grill to cook your meat…and do you have my chicken marinade recipe? I also have a great grilled shrimp recipe….which would work well in a fry pan, too…and shrimp are super fast at cooking..and when they are pink they are done! Just a thought John

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Hi! Yes, my iPad and iMessage do work in Italy! I’ve been using solely the iPad to produce blog posts. Thanks for the advice! I can’t grill here, unfortunately, they only fire up the decrepit grill once a summer (specifically) for the 4th of July. We also don’t eat a lot (or any) of seafood…even though it’s an island it’s expensive. I have used your carbonara recipe twice and everyone loves it! I think it’s my best recipe! The white wine makes all the difference, I think. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to get your chicken marinade recipe. I’ve already improved so much since I tried to cook for you guys- I can’t wait to try again and actually get it right! Miss you, talk soon!


  3. Plum and Polenta Cake
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal or semolina flour
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    Pinch of kosher salt
    13 tablespoons butter, softened
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    4 large egg yolks
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    4 plums, cut in half and pitted
    2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

    . Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and lightly flour an 8 x 2-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

    2. In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

    3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.

    4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the plum halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.


  4. What about making a plum chutney as a meat sauce? With some ginger, onion, cloves, pepper, salt…what do you think?


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