Home Cooking Made Easy: Here is a fabulous steak with potatoes and vegetables that I prepared for myself. Looks complex but it’s not. Here’s what I did: cut up some potatoes, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Season a NY strip steak with salt and pepper. Sear the steak in a skillet for 2.5 minutes on each side. Let the steak rest and fry the potatoes and vegetables (not the tomatoes) with olive oil in the same skillet—5 to 7 minutes. Distribute the vegetables around the steak, finish with fresh tomatoes and a lemon wedge. Presto, great meal—total time, maybe 20 minutes. You can do this. Try it and let me know. Jim
Clams Season: Is there a more satisfying summer pasta preparation than clams with spaghetti, olive oil, a few olives, copious garlic, and parsley from the garden? The sauce results from the internal juices released from the hard shell clams mixing under moderate heat with the aforementioned simple, intensely flavorful, ingredients. The splendid look of it; and how it tastes! Best part: it’s a summer dish that you can enjoy throughout the year.
How to do it? Simple: wash the clams, put them in a covered skillet with olive oil, and garlic; cook over moderate heat while your spaghetti is boiling. Toss the cooked spaghetti with the finished clams, add the olives and parsley, toss more, serve. Cook fearless, you can do it, Let me know!!! Jim
Tuscan Idyll: Fattoria Lavacchio has been our vineyard home in Chianti for nearly 20 years. Our frequent visits there have provided my family, our guests, and Cafe Capriccio staff with immeasurable pleasure and inspiration that informs our work in Albany. The photo below is an idyllic image of a summer day in a corner of the estate that brilliantly illustrates the profound beauty of the Tuscan countryside. Franco and I will soon be there again with some of our family for a “working holiday.” Look for Cafe Capriccio’s autumn menu to reflect Tuscan-lessons learned in the year of Our Lord, 2018. Amen!
Antipasti & Tapas Preserves: Spanish and Italian chefs frequently serve appetizer delicacies from cans and jars. For example: Pequillo peppers are always preserved, alici (citris -cured anchovies) are packaged, delicious artichoke hearts, sometimes with long stems, are now found on supermarket shelves, tuna in olive oil is popular throughout the Mediterranean. And, there is a wide variety of small fish and shellfish widely available that make wonderful antipasti (tapas) ingredients, or they can stand alone. Fearless cooks should never be reluctant to serve these splendid preserves to their most discerning guests. If the King of Spain orders Pequillo peppers with tuna under oil and olives to whet his appetite you can bet everything on his plate comes from a can or a jar. Below is a splendid appetizer I served yesterday for lunch that includes roasted plumb tomatoes together with Spanish sardines, European sprats preserved in jars under olive oil, and olives. Easy to prepare, delicious, beautiful presentation, combining a little gardening, home cooking, and savvy shopping. Being a fearless cook allows you to discover and serve some of the world’s great delicacies even though you didn’t prepare every ingredient yourself.
Salt-Roasted Fish: This is a 10 pound salmon encrusted with kosher salt and baked for about 1 hour. The technique was shown to me by a fabulous Spanish chef, in a fabulous Spanish place, Marbella, Andelucia. I prepared this for the first time at a Chef’s Table function not knowing how it would turn out. The result, shown below, was perfect: moist and succulent. The lesson: cook without fear, follow your spirit and more often than not the results will be blissful. As with all creative endeavors, good cooks are magicians, fearless, limited only by their visions. You too can do this.
Like Shrimp? Here is a delicious, beautiful, and simple to prepare shrimp dish, perfect for summer dining. Gulf shrimp, steamed, tossed with cooked broccoli and sweet roasted peppers. Dress with your best olive oil and lemon, a little Kosher salt and pepper. Lay it out like this. Winner!, Jim
Family Appetizers: Yesterday at the Chef’s Table we hosted a family gathering celebrating the birthday of its beautiful matriarch. Here pictured, a few of the many appetizers we served on this happy occasion. We love hosting family celebrations on special occasions. Next special occasion for your family bring them all to the Chef’s Table. Make a Reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll do the cooking. Jim
Pappardelle Peter Rabbit: (Ragu di Coniglio) For me there is no more savory, interesting, or more majestic pasta presentation than savory ragu of rabbit served with wide pasta such as pappardelle shown here. This was our pasta offering last evening at the Chef’s Table. For this I garnished the dish with chopped arugula. Have you ever thought of chopping arugula as you would parsley to finish savory dishes like this? Arugula’s pepper-pungent taste is just right for complimenting this complex stew. Add a little Pecorino; mama mia. Come to the Chef’s Table and I’ll prepare this for you and your guests. Make a Reservation: email@example.com Jim
The Quintessence of Salad: The green leaves are basil with vegetables just picked from our garden: tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, dressed with homemade wine vinegar and California olive oil. Served last evening at the Chef’s Table. Really, you need to let me cook for you sometime in the Chef’s Table. Reserve for 10 to 15 worthies: firstname.lastname@example.org Jim
Hunting Season Coming
Grilled Quail, Risotto alla Milanese, Caramalized Onions, Fried Quail Egg: This is one of my favorite and most interesting dishes served at the Chef’s Table. It came together suddenly, an inspiration, as we stared at the ingredients wondering what to do with them. This is the magic that can result from being able to cook without restraint. Come to the Chef’s Table for a taste of culinary magic. Make a reservation for 10-15 people you care about: email@example.com
August Pasta: Spaghetti with garden tomatoes & basil, garlic scapes, olive tapenade, Pecorino & Sicilian olive oil. Served last evening at the Chef’s Table. You really should visit the Chef’s Table so I can cook like this for you. Contact Colleen: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim
Did I mention we make our own salumi and sausage from local pork at Cafe Capriccio?
Our Favorite Italian Deli
Our favorite Italian Deli is Al Antico Vinaio located behind the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Always busy, it looks like this and serves fabulous sandwiches like that. If Franco and I create Capriccio Pizzeria and Deli for lunch and take out, Al Antico Vinaio will be our model—homage to the best fast food stop in Firenze. We’ll be there again soon for inspiration— and for a porchetta sandwich like this. I’ll keep you posted. Jim
Cafe Capriccio Pizzeria and Deli: Here’s a fantasy: We convert our rustic Tuscan Room to a pizzeria and deli serving food like this for lunch, take out, and delivery. Cafe Capriccio remains the same and we add something new to our repertory. Let me know what you think. Jim
Steak Roast at the Chef’s Table
Local beef from Highland Hollow farm in nearby Schoharie, NY. Grilled over a wood fire and served to fortunate guests at Cafe Capriccio’s Chef Table last evening. Let me cook like this for you, your family, and friends. Contact Colleen for a reservation: email@example.com. Jim