Tuesday, October 9, 2012


It's approaching that time of year in Italy when the first press of olives is celebrated, the fresh green oil turning bread into bruschetta which will be shared in homes and served by wine bars and restaurants. 

I speak for many I think, when I say how romantic it sounds, the stories of those first, drippy bites eagerly sampled at the olive mill literally minutes after bottling or by a campfire in the Tuscan woods with the looming threat of attracting wild boar.   

So, what's the fuss?  It's just garlicky bread and olive oil. 

Therein lies the beauty of Italian cuisine which you've heard before; keep it simple with the best ingredients available.

The correct pronunciation is brew-sket-ta though here most people phonetically call it brew-shet-ta.  It is a glorious antipasto dependent on four quality ingredients.  A slice of rustic, grilled Italian bread is rubbed with the pulp side of a sliced garlic clove.  This takes just a few light strokes.  The warm, crispy bread is then drizzled with fruity olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Bruschetta is not topped with tomatoes and basil unless desired and then it becomes bruschetta with tomatoes, also delicious but quite different from the original.

So, when was the last time you shared a platter of bruschetta? 

photos; florence, italy

Saturday, October 6, 2012

it's cincinnoti chili

"What is it?"
   "Cincinnati Chili."
"But it's pasta."
"So, it's Cincinnati Spaghetti."
   "No, it's Cincinnati Chili."

That's how I remember the conversation from many years ago when my friend first introduced me to her hometown's famous dish served in chili parlors all over town.  Uniquely seasoned chili is spooned over spaghetti with or without toppings. 

Ordered whichever way you like it; one way is chili in a bowl, two way is chili with spaghetti and the options progress to five way which is chili, spaghetti, beans, onions, and cheese.

Here's our way; a play on words for a meatless Cincinnati Chili made with hot and spicy beans, spaghetti, onions, peppers, and cheese.  It's not gourmet and not a dish I'd choose to serve company but it does make for a good, quick and easy, family-friendly bowl of spaghetti.

I mean chili.

No, it's spaghetti... 

Cincinnoti Chili

Bush's Chili Hot Beans
Medium is the hottest type they sell.

Nine ounces.  Be sure to cook it al dente. 
You want some toothsomeness to stand up to the beans and peppers.

One large, any type, sliced or diced.

Sold in jars, usually yellow with a few red, rings or slices. 
(I keep a canister in the fridge in which I've combined 
both hot and mild jars, equally.) 
Cheddars, Mexican blends or Jack


Heat the beans in a small saucepan.  Keep warm. 
Add a little water if they cook down too much. 

In a saucepan large enough to later hold the pasta,
saute the onion in a little bit of oil.

Drain and rinse a handful of peppers for each serving.  Place on paper towels to dry. Add the peppers to the pan of onions if you prefer soft peppers.  Otherwise, you will add them later.

Bring several quarts of water to a boil. 
(This is one of the few times I don't salt the water.) 
Cook the spaghetti only until al dente.

Drain the pasta when it's ready and transfer it to the pan with the onions.  Pour half of the beans and their sauce, over the pasta. 
Add the peppers and toss it all together. 

Plate each serving, topping with an additional spoonful of beans. 
Serve with cheese and parsley.

makes three servings