Monday, June 16, 2008

France and Italy

Twice on Saturday I was reminded of French butter which to me is one of the most wonderful foods. It has a taste which is uniquely its own. When we were on our cruise, after the ship had re-supplied at Martinique, we were getting French butter for our meals, it was wonderful. Midday meals in France with tureens of delightful French soups, lots of crusty bread and French butter which we always had to ask for as - in those days - the French would not butter their bread for soup. Oh the memories. Maybe that is where I learned my passion for making soup as I did love their 'potages'. I have friends in France and I am so envious of their access to wonderful food and great cuisine. Of course French cuisine wasn't that marvellous until Catherine de Medici married the French king and introduced Italian cooks into the court of France.

I get very upset that so many people think Italian cuisine is all about pizza and pasta. I have already posted a recipe for Vitello Tonato, not a piece of pasta in sight. Artichokes Ricca was another. Plus I find that pizzas over here carry too many things on them which makes it difficult to know what ingredients you are actually tasting. A lot of the great foods of Europe, particularly in France and Italy, are simple foods with simple flavours so you can enjoy what you are eating. Food should be something savoured, not stuffed in the mouth in order to get on with the next item of the day. I have met several people who shovelled food into their mouths so fast, I wonder why they bothered to eat anything more than bean cake which is nutritious but hasn't much flavour. To me one of the most delightful ways of spending an evening is at table with good friends and excellent food, savouring each mouthful. While I am on food peeves, I get so annoyed when people refer to Parmesan cheese as Parmigiano even when its spelled Parmesan. Are you speaking Italian? Well do so. If not say it in English. Its just a form of showing off.

I have a new link on my page today, Finding and Lo(o)sing, do check it out. Hrugaar is an author and has had three books published.

Hope all you dads had a good Father's Day yesterday, Matt spent a lot of it either on Skype with one daughter, or on the phone with the other.

The following recipe for Steak Pizzaiola, one of my favourites, includes Marinara sauce. Please don't buy it pre-prepared. Its easy to make. In fact I make a batch and freeze it in small quantities so I have some whenever I need it. If you click on the link below it will take you to a marinara recipe which will taste so much better if its home made.

Steak Pizzaiola

The Italian Chef's Recipes

For all of you steak lovers out there, here is an excellent
alternative to a plaingrilled or broiled steak. If you do not
wish to add the mushrooms and peppers,
it is delicious just with the marinara sauce alone.

Serves 4

4 boneless Shell Steaks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large green pepper and 1 large red pepper
sliced and seeds removed
1 pound of mushrooms sliced
4 cups Marinara Sauce
1 cup of chicken or beef stock
salt & pepper to taste

Either on grill or in broiler, cook steaks until rare.
While steaks are cooking heat olive oil in a large sauté
pan over medium heat.
Add peppers, and mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Drain oil and place steaks in pan season with salt and pepper.
Add marinara sauce and stock and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Remove steaks to serving plates, cook sauce for 2 more
minutes to reduce then pour sauce over steaks and serve.

Have a great day.


  1. miam ! i might try your recipie ! France and Italy such an old story ^^

    (my blog adress, i'm having fun to write in english ^^ as i am quite eccentric i suppose !:

  2. Jo - when you are next in Paris I will take you to a shop where you will buy the best butter in the world. It is AOC ...