Toni Lydecker's Tavola Talk Blog

Perfect Eggplant Parmesan

Nobody needs more than one recipe for eggplant parmesan, any more than you need multiple methods for perfect scrambled eggs or a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Problem was my eggplant parmesan recipe, acquired years ago from an Italian-American cook, wasn’t perfect. The eggplant slices were brushed with oil and broiled. It contained ricotta as well as [...]

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Wed, March 8 2017 » Eggs and Cheese, Fruits and Vegetables, Italian food, Tampa Bay, Uncategorized » No Comments

Pickled Vegetables, Especially Giardiniera

Pickling isn’t just for cucumbers anymore. It’s a huge trend, whether taking the form of traditional mixes like Italian giardiniera or the wildly creative combinations of someone like Ilene Sofranko, owner of Urban Canning Company here in St. Pete. Their exuberantly flavored offerings include chili and fennel Brussels sprouts, sraracha peppered okra and ginger-spiced beets. [...]

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Fri, September 2 2016 » Fruits and Vegetables, Italian food, Italian ingredients, Uncategorized » No Comments

Chilled Tomato Soup with a Smoky Undertone

I adore chilled soup when the weather is warm (as it is more often than not in Florida).  But the variations on gazpacho and vichyssoise that abound in restaurants, as well as my own kitchen, can get boring. So I got excited about a creative soup special at Brick & Mortar Kitchen & Wine Bar–cold [...]

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Wed, June 8 2016 » Fruits and Vegetables, Soups and Stews, Uncategorized » No Comments

Giardiniera: Vegetables, Lightly Pickled

Reading an article about the “farm to jar” pickles and jams made by Tampa Bay entrepreneur Illene Sofranko reminded me that I had squirreled away several jars of her delicious Urban Canning pickled okra and Brussels sprouts in my pantry. And also reminded me it’s time to make the Italian-style pickled vegetables known as giardiniera. [...]

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Tue, September 29 2015 » Fruits and Vegetables, Italian food, Italian ingredients, Italian lifestyle, Uncategorized » No Comments

Belgian Chefs Who Know Their Veggies

Yes, I enjoyed sampling Belgium’s famous beers, chocolate and, of course, frites. But what really blew me away on a recent visit were the things Belgian chefs are doing with vegetables.                   My education began at JEF, a small but acclaimed restaurant in Ghent. Marinated fresh herring, [...]

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Mon, August 3 2015 » Fruits and Vegetables, Uncategorized » No Comments