First, for the book review. I loved this book...I loved it because I am an "older woman" who has lived a life and raised a family, so it is fun for me to read a book of a couple "of age" who find each other and fall in love...against all the odds.
I loved how Marlena allowed the "stranger" to sweep her away. I also loved how, being more mature, she had limited expectations of what a move to Europe would mean and was only slightly disillusioned by the whole thing. I loved all her experiences at the market place and I felt for her trying to live without all the conveniences with which she was accustomed.
I loved when she admitted how wrong she was when she was teaching and told her students "Adequate space, fine tools, and equipment are fundamental. But if one is really a cook, one can cook in a tin can with a wooden spoon". She goes on to say......I was wrong. I need more than a tin can and much more than this tin-can-of-a-space. And dammit, I need more than a wooden spoon.
I enjoyed learning another culture with her. I was surprised that friends don't join at each others houses for home cooked meals as I had always envisioned all of Italy as a huge dining room table filled with family and friends.
It was also fun for me when the stranger decided to retire suddenly and they were trying to figure out what they were going to do in the next phase of their life. This was especially poignant for me as my husband and I are looking at the same thing at this point in our lives. I laughed out loud when Fernando figures out his olive oil business and finds that if all goes well he should get his first harvest in 25 years and that harvest will yield about a cup and a half of oil.
We all come up with crazy ideas when we reach middle age I guess.
The dish I was inspired to make for today's Try it Tuesday meal was Porri Gratinati, which is a Gratin of Leeks or in my case, Onions. Marlena said that her favorite way to eat these are by ladling a big pile onto her plate and topping it with Grilled Meat....sounded good to me so we are grilling steaks to go along with our Porri Gratinati.
Porri Gratinati (Onion Gratin)
slightly adapted from A Thousand Days in Venice
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1 large spanish onion, sliced thin
1 (8 oz) container Marscapone Cheese
1 t. freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper and Freshly ground sea salt to taste
1/4 c. vodka
Shredded 3 Italian Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Asiago and Romano)
2 T. butter, softened
Place sliced onions into a large bowl. Mix together marscapone cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper and vodka. Add to onions and mix together until onions are evenly coated. I used clean hands because it was easier to make sure the onions were evenly coated with the cheese than using any other utensils. Grease a casserole with the butter. Turn the onions into the casserole and sprinkle with a handful or two of the Italian Cheese Blend (about a 1/2 cup). Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 30-45 minutes or until a golden brown crust forms and the onions are fork tender. Print Recipe