Back to the Garden

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Slow Food LA and Vicente Ristorante presents The Piemonte Chocolate Showcase, a chocolate symposium, cooking class demonstration, tasting and dessert sampler on Saturday, March 22nd at Vicente Ristorante, 11930 San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood. The event features the chocolate of the Piedmont region of Italy. The 3-hour event, which begins at 12:45p, is $65 per person. Seating is limited. Call 310-207-0127 for reservations or email

Scott Daigre is from Powerplant, a garden and landscape design firm. (323)462-2881.

Tomatomania, the largest tomato seedling sale in the US, will be held March 19-23, 9am-5pm, at Tapia Brothers Farm Stand in Encino. Tapia Brothers is located at the corner of Hayvenhurst and Burbank Blvd, just off the 101 Freeway. Over 250 heirloom and hybrid varieties will be for sale, plus all the extras you need to have a perfect tomato season in 2003.

LA Times food writer Russ Parsons talked about radicchio. He is the author of How to Read a French Fry (and other stories of intriguing food science).

Radicchio salad

Serves 6 to 8
2 heads Chioggia radicchio (about 1 pound)
4-6 salted anchovies, soaked
1 clove garlic, cut into quarters
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
6 (1/2-inch) thick slices French bread
1. Trim the ends from the radicchio. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 8 cups. Set aside while preparing the dressing.

2. Place the anchovies and garlic in a blender. Blend at high speed, adding 3/4 cup of oil in a thin stream. Blend in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Heat the broiler or an indoor grill.

4. Brush the bread slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Broil or grill the bread until browned on both sides. Tear the bread into bite-sized croutons.

5. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the dressing over the radicchio and toss to coat. Add the croutons and toss again. Serve the remaining dressing on the side (reserve any leftover for another use).

Grilled Radicchio and Prosciutto
Serves 8

Note: This is based on something prepared by Lucio Gomiero's friend Pietro Bernardi, of Montecito's Pane Vino.

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 heads Treviso radicchio, about 6 ounces each
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
1. Heat a grill or grill pan on high heat and brush with oil.

2. Trim the ends of the radicchio and cut lengthwise into quarters. Brush the cut sides with the remaining oil and place on the grill. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning, for about 5 minutes. The radicchio will be soft and wilted. Season with salt and immediately take 1 piece of prosciutto and wrap diagonally around each piece of radicchio. Serve immediately.

Grace Young is the author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen.

Suzanne Dunaway gave us some great ideas for cooking for kids. Her latest book is No Need to Knead, and she is the owner of Buona Forchetta Handmade Breads.

Egyptian Eggs
1. Heat 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil in a medium sized skillet.

2. With a cookie cutter, cut circles out of a slice of whole grain bread.

3. Toast the bread in the skillet on one side, then turn over and break 1 egg into the hole. Turn heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes on one side. With a spatula, carefully turn the toast and egg over and cook for a minute on the other side.

4. Serve with bacon, fresh-squeezed juice and milk or cocoa.

The Best Pasta Ever

8 ripe tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup olive oil
16 ounces rotelle (little wheels)
1/2 pound Parmesan, shaved with a cheese shaver into thin slices
1/2 cup toasted fresh bread crumbs (olive bread makes great crumbs)
Juice of 2 large lemons
1. Put the tomatoes, basil, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just to chop the ingredients, not puree them. Transfer to a strainer set over a bowl.

2. Add the garlic and set aside for about 15 minutes to drain. Remove and discard the garlic.

3. Put the tomato mixture into a large bowl and stir in the olive oil. Discard or drink the juice collected during draining.

4. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook the pasta for 6 or 7 minutes until al dente.

5. Drain and toss with the tomatoes, Parmesan, and bread crumbs. Add the lemon juice, toss again, and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Chicken Parmesan
Ever since I acquired two Italian stepchildren 28 years ago, I have been making this chicken. Perhaps it is not a classic Roman dish, but it is my contribution to Italian cooking, and I wanted so badly to woo my new little friends, not an easy task in the beginning (one of them bit me on the shoulder on the first day of our first summer together, but he has repented). Still, two buone forchette who had grown up with their mothers wonderful cooking were going to be in my life for a long time, and I think I may have persuaded them that they were not going to starve at our house.

6 medium chicken breasts, flattened
2 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt, pepper and a spoon of the parmesan
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 clove garlic, mashed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
Juice of a large lemon
1. Dip each chicken breast in beaten egg, then coat with cracker crumbs.

2. Heat the oil in a wide skillet, and brown the chicken breasts on one side. Cover, lower the heat and cook about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, turn the breasts and cook on the other side for 4 to 5 minutes until done but still moist.

3. In a saucepan, heat the butter, add the garlic, and cook until golden. Add the cream and egg yolks and whisk over low heat until thickened. Stir in the rest of the parmesan and lemon juice and serve the sauce over each breast.