June 2012

Giardiniera didn’t do much for me when I was a kiddo. Back then, I only knew it from a giant jar at my uncle’s restaurant. A bunch of marinated vegetables strewn atop an antipasto or chef’s salad–la-la-la…who cares? Then I tried it homemade. What a revelation! So good in and of itself, you might find yourself simply snacking on it by the spoonful, though it’s at its best served over thinly sliced genoa salami or soppressata…either on “the Saturday sandwich” or on a plate. Mmmmm.

Talk about love at first bite! I kept asking for more. Perhaps even to the point of obnoxiousness.
Did I mention how much I liked that giardiniera?
So, could you spare that giardiniera–that was kind of a small portion!
Will more be coming, it’s sooooooooooo good?
OK, the next batch I will make and share.

So, since it’s my turn to chop-chop-chop, I’ll also share the recipe–so easy to make and so worth it. All you need–besides the ingredients and two (2) 1-quart canning jars–is a LARGE bowl and a little patience. Oh, shh–and a crinkle cutter–how could I forget? Andiamo!

adapted from the New York Times

4 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced, seeds removed (please be smarter and cooler than this kat and WEAR GLOVES to avoid setting your paws on fire)
2 sweet bell peppers (I used “stop light peppers”—red/orange/yellow, cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
3 celery stalks, sliced on a diagonal
3 carrots, peeled and crinkle-cut (because they taste better that way, don’tcha know?!)
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ small Vidalia onion, sliced thin
½ cup salt
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used half crushed red pepper, half Aleppo)
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns (I used Penzey’s European black and white)
1 ½  cups white vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup safflower oil (can also use grapeseed oil, but it’s pricier)
¼ cup chopped olives

Ready to make those carrots extra-delish? That’s right, choose yer weapon carefully–CHOP, CHOP!

In a large bowl, using your hands, mix the vegetables and salt until well combined. Cover the vegetables with water.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the mixture to sit, unrefrigerated, for 8 to 12 hours. OOPS, I was not supposed to include garlic with the vegetables. You should save it for the “dressing” part of the program. Oh, well! It didn’t lose in the translation, lucky for me.

Pour the vegetables into a colander and rinse thoroughly. Sterilize two 1-quart glass canning jars, with lids. Either run them through the dishwasher or submerge them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

In one sterilized jar, combine the herbs and spices; add the vinegar and oil and shake-a-shake-a vigorously to emulsify. Pour half the dressing into the other jar.

Pack the vegetables into the jars. I modified the amount of oil and vinegar so you should have plenty to coat the vegetables completely, but if need be, make more dressing and add it. Screw lids onto jars and refrigerate. Here’s the hard part: let the mixture mellow in the fridge for a couple of days before serving. Makes darn close to 2 quarts.

Nothing like a fresh-picked salad for lunch–soppressata circling the plate, homemade giardiniera on top. We’re movin’ on up from Bridge Street, baby!

I eat antipasto twice, just because it is so nice, giardiniera…

Sunshine and warmer weather have sent your friend the Kat outdoors to play in her garden. Garden? Yes, even townhouse cats can get down ‘n dirty with lots of pots and bags of good soil!

Right outside my slider, I’ve got quite the assortment of herbs and vegetables growing, along with some catnip for the Queen and pretty flowers thrown in for good measure.

And mint–several varieties, even. As my big, brand-new apple mint plant was loaded with leaves, my thoughts immediately turned to…G E L A T O! I love stracciatella and wanted to make a fresh mint version, so I headed for the deck and got pickin’! Meet the guardian of the apple mint!


1 ¼ cups whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup mint leaves
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 a vanilla bean, halved the long way and scraped
¼ cup (2 oz.) dark chocolate (I ♥ Valrhona feves)
a pinch of Kosher salt

Combine milk, cream and mint in a saucepan. Scrape vanilla bean seeds with the tip of a sharp knife–add both seeds and pod to the milk mixture.

Heat on medium to  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep for half an hour.

Strain liquid using a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the leaves to extract all the liquid. Discard leaves and vanilla bean. You probably already knew we were done with those. 🙂

In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to hot milk, whisking constantly.

Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Do not let it boil!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl, remove pod, let cool to room temperature. Stir in salt. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 10 minutes. And now, time to spin it up: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions.

While your gelato processes, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (I use the defrost setting). When the gelato is finished, keep the machine running, then pour the melted chocolate S-L-O-W-L-Y and carefully in a fine stream. The chocolate will harden in tiny bits and streaks that make the gelato uniquely stracciatella and not just ordinary chocolate chip!

There’s no mint like fresh mint when it comes to refreshment in the form of gelato! Try it and see!