Leek & Split Pea Zuppa

TIME: An hour, give or take
SERVES: 4 to 6


1 large leek
4 tbsp olive oil
250g dried split peas *(You will need to soak these for at least four hours in advance; do not use packaged or frozen peas as their flavor is niente buono; fresh peas may be used but you’ll have to split them…)
1 liter vegetable broth, already boiling gently
40g rice flour
1 bay leaf


-Cut the white part of the leek into 1/2 cm thick slices.
-Add the leek plus the olive oil to the pot and cook for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping the leeks near the center to avoid burning them.
-Drain the peas and add them to the pot with the rice flour and bay leaf. Stir together then add the boiling broth.
-Cook over the lowest flame for about 40 minutes or until the peas are soft, stirring occasionally.
-Adjust the salt if necessary.
-Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf.
-Add fresh ground black pepper to taste (I like piccante so I always add a dash of ground red pepper, too), and blend the soup with an immersion blender. You can adjust the consistency by adding water or flour, to taste.
-Garnish with croutons which you may have prepared yourself simply by thinly slicing a stale baguette, brushing a few pieces with olive oil, and toasting them in a pan on the stove. Crumble over the soup and dust with grated parmigiano and minced parsley.
-Serve hot.

Artichoke Risotto

TIME: 20 mins. to prep, 40 mins. to cook
SERVES: 4 to 6


1 clove garlic
1 shallot
1 small handful of parsley
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 chunks butter (or substitute with 2 tbsp olive oil)
4 fresh artichokes, see preparation below
1 liter vegetable broth, already boiling gently
300g carnaroli rice (about 1 1/2 cups)
grated parmigiano reggiano


A note about rice: Carnaroli is the preferred risotto rice in Italy. It produces a creamier risotto and, compared to arborio, is more resistant to overcooking and absorbs liquid better.

Preparing the artichokes: Cut off the stems, then cut off a centimeter from the bottom of the head. Remove the thin outer leaves, usually two layers, then cut off the thin tops, leaving the meatiest part of the leaves. Slice the artichoke in half and scrape out the hairy interior near the base. Then slice the halves into thirds. Keep them in cold water with a squeeze of lemon to maintain the color. The lemon later lends itself nicely to the dish.

-Mince garlic, shallot and parsley leaves and cook 2 minutes in 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 chunk butter in a saucepan with a thick bottom. KEEP THE FLAME LOW.
-Drain and dry the artichokes well with a towel and add to the pan with half a ladle of broth. Cook ten minutes.
-Stir in the rice, raising the flame for a few moments, then lower it again to medium-low and stir in the rest of the broth, one ladleful at a time. Add the next ladleful when the first has been absorbed by the rice and the risotto starts to develop a creaminess. Don’t stir too much but don’t stir too little.
-About halfway through the broth, check the salt in the risotto and adjust if necessary.
-The rice is done cooking when it is al dente, when it still has a slightly chewy—but not hard—texture. At this point, turn off the heat, stir in the second chunk of butter and as much grated parmigiano as you wish.
-If the risotto seems too dry, add broth or water until it has a creamy texture again. Then cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
-Garnish with minced parsley and more parmigiano. Pair with a nice white wine.

The Worst Kind of American

I’m the worst kind of American; I’m a third-generation immigrant, I’m a gay, I’m progressive, I’ve lived outside our borders, I freely criticize our policies, I hate that my taxes finance war, I hate celebrity culture obsession, I don’t frequent businesses that undervalue their laborers, I don’t eat corn-fed bullshit, I don’t eat GMOs, I won’t wear a tie, I won’t pledge my allegiance, I refuse to be governed by any other God than the one within me, I vote Democrat on principle, I think our best food is Mexican, I really don’t give a shit about football because it insulates us from the rest of the world which plays soccer, I’m glad we almost have reasonably affordable socialized healthcare which is a basic human right, I think any pro-gun argument sounds like ducks quacking, I want free education so I can continue becoming even more intelligent, I don’t believe in an American culture that isn’t a culture made of all cultures, I want to marry a handsome Muslim, I wish we had better trains, I think the scariest places in the country are the whitest, I think public everything should be secular, I think marijuana should be legal even though I don’t smoke it, I don’t care if you have an abortion because your body is not my body, I think the police should be told to care less about the little things, I think children should be taught to grow gardens in public school, I don’t understand the electoral college, I don’t understand why Cheney and Bush haven’t been tried for war crimes, I don’t want my tax dollars sent to Israel but I’m happy to feed a refugee, I think the blood of many people is on our hands, I want a socialist Jew for President. 
Yes, definitely the worst kind of American.