Sunday, March 30, 2014

Marsh Rhapsody

Marsh Rhapsody, 4 x 6 

I'm dreaming of spring, and visualizing the grass greening up on the marsh. This is a view of Hog Island next to Crane's Beach in Ipswich, at one of many spots where the sea flows through the marsh at low tide. Without even realizing it, I used a similar rich and saturated color pallet as I did in two paintings I made last year. Clearly I love colors, and have been influenced by Fauvism—the Wild beasts!  And no doubt this is because I am craving some color in our dreary, early spring landscape. When will spring really arrive?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Farewell Mr. Pom!

I just sliced open the last pomegranate of the winter season and made one of my fave fruit salads. I've been making this Nigella Lawson recipe for years—a simple mix of pomegranate seeds, blueberries, and mangos, and then a judicious squeeze of lime balances out the sweetness. It's very healthy and amazingly refreshing! Frank, the produce manager at Shaws market in Beverly, assures me that another round of poms will come through around May, though these fruits aren't as good as the ones that start arriving at the markets in the fall. So until then, farewell Mr. Pomegranate!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Molto Margherita!

Can't beat an old favorite. We make our Margherita pizzas on a 20-year old pizza stone in a screaming hot oven. Over pillowy dough that's been rolled thin, we spread a spoonful of crushed tomatoes, sprinkle a thin of grated mozz and provolone cheeses, and toss on a few slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. After a quick rest in the aforementioned sauna, these humble ingredients go under sort of mysterious magical alchemy, and all is transformed into lusciousness. With the addition of some fresh basil (and a nice bottle of Chianti) we feel like we're in Tuscany! Molto Bene!! 

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all photos by Dan + Diane

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A feast for the eyes

Roman God of the seasons

Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo was waaay ahead of his time. Consider his "composed heads" series—his unusual and very gorgeous portraits painted in the 1500s. Giuseppe was best known for creating these wildly imaginative portraits made entirely of mostly edible objects such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and also flowers and books. As a child I was utterly entranced by these odd paintings, and would stare at them for hours on end. Curiouser and curiouser. The paintings are rich in detail and very beautifully done, but still, just a little bit creepy to a wide-eyed kid. This was the dawn of new thoughts and disciplines such as botany and zoology, when artists, most notably Leonardo da Vinci—Arcimboldo’s predecessor in Milan—pursued natural studies.

One early set of Giuseppe's paintings was called The Four Elements and included Earth, Water, Fire and Air. He had a sense of humor too, and his allegorical paintings are peppered with visual puns. For example, Summer’s Ear is an ear of corn. See more of Giuseppe's works by clicking here. I think the artist represents all of the seasons in his Vertumnus painting above, but shown below are his well known"Four Seasons" portraits. They are a veritable feast for the eyes!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The season of singing!

I love all seasons, but I especially love spring. How can one not love the renaissance of the earth after harsh New England winters, and flowers and leaves that emerge from their winter slumber and arise to sing... Wake up, wake up!

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Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.

—Song of Solomon

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life-changing bread

This delicious flourless bread recipe is a keeper. It's filled with fiber and reminds me of those dense German rye breads. What's unusual about this bread is that psyllium husk and water act as the binders, and there's also coconut oil, maple syrup (or honey or agave nectar), rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, millet, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hazelnuts. (The millet and pumpkin seeds were my addition) A slice of this bread is incredible toasted! Get the original recipe here from My New Roots, where nutritionist Sarah Britton calls this "the life-changing loaf of bread." She has gorgeous and amazing photos on her blog too.

Once you have the recipe down you can start experimenting. I made a version of this bread using orange infused cranberries, orange zest, pumpkin seeds and and walnuts. What a great combination of flavors! I sliced the bread, kept it in the freezer, and toast them when I want a blast of fiber. Makes a great on-the-go breakfast.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top 'o the morning to ya!

Aren't we all just a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day? A wee slice of Irish soda bread and a strong cuppa is just the thing to start the day off right today. I call it the Blarney Scone. I've actually kissed the Blarney Stone, which means that someday I'll be lucky enough to visit Ireland again. Until then, maybe some Baileys Irish Cream, a pint of Guinness, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, colcannon, or Irish Stew the Bailey will bring me to Ireland via my taste buds! Sláinte!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Color inspiration—seaweed 1

Look at those luscious textures and those sultry shades of green. Gorgeous!

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tri-root medallion salad

photos, Dan + Diane

I was excited to see watermelon radishes at the market, and had visions of a scrumptious pink and green Lily Pulizer looking salad. Then I cut my radish open—disappointed! Yes, it was pinkish, but not the pretty intense pink color that I'd seen in food mags. In any case, it inspired me to take this shaved tri-root medallion salad of regular old radishes, carrots, and those pink watermelon radishes. I had some frisee lettuce with it, along with baby beet micro greens, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and a honey orange dressing—which seems to be my new favorite. The radishes were crisp and peppery and the colors reminded me of spring. Rumor has it that spring really is coming!

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Octopus's garden

OK maybe I'm just a little too obsessed with the car wash. I wrote a short post about it here a few years ago and I still feel that same way—that "Nothing very bad could happen to you there." That's how Audrey Hepburn character, Holly Golightly, felt about Tiffany's department store. These photos that I snapped will hopefully help me remember the meditative zen vibe I feel in a car wash, which always leaves my car (and me!) feeling snappy and neat—the very opposite of bedraggled. And for extra bonus, it's not drugs and it's not fattening

As my car glides down the ramp I instantly feel transported to a quasi, dreamlike state of mind where everything is warm and safe. It conjures up a feeling of being underwater—swimming. Above me the cloth washers are like octopus tentacles dancing in the ocean, and below me the spinning brushes are like sea kelp flowing in gentle currents. It's an octopus's garden in the shade. Anyway, I just love those delicious blue and green colors. 

Graphic, Diane Carnevale

See more greens + blues by clicking here!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Color Inspiration— 47 shades of green

Pregnant tulips—full of so much promise!! Buried under ground—still nestled under a foot of snow—are tulips and crocuses ready to burst into glorious bloom. We've had a long winter here in New England and all deserve a wondrous spring. I'm ready to see some color! 

In the words my my cousin Bob describing a recent painting of mine, "Reminds me of the woods in spring with the leafing out in about 47 shades of green. Or more."

To see more colors, click on the "color inspiration" label below.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Edible 'love letters'

These "love letters" are mint and pea stuffed ravioli, which are luxuriating in a spicy lamb ragù sauce. A combination of poetic liberty and culinary creativity, the ravioli were for a special Valentine's Day dinner a few weeks ago. Mama mia, what flavors and textures!! The homemade pasta was positively silky, the ravioli filling was seductively creamy, and the spicy lamb ragù sauce has some serious Italian attitude! The Minty love letters with spicy lamb ragú recipe is from molto magnifo Italian chef Mario Batali, but I took it a step further by forming letter shaped ravioli. The cooling mint that is used both in the ravs and sprinkled on top a final garnish was a perfect combination with the lamb sauce, so if you make this, do make sure you have plenty. It was a lovely, romantic dinner for two—signed, sealed and delivered, with love. 

Click to get the recipe for

Kitchen notes:

Sausage— I couldn't find the Moroccan Merguez lamb sausage that the recipe calls for so I made the sausage myself, minus the casing, which essentially was similar to making a bolognese ragú sauce. I used this homemade Merguez Sausage recipewhich is really fiery and made with ground lamb, cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds, along with paprika and Moroccan harissa, which you can find at Whole Foods Markets.  One quick note: sauté the ground lamb first and drain off all the fat that you can. Grilling the lamb in patty form would have gotten a really supreme good char flavor, then you could break it up when you made the sauce. It all goes into a Cuisinart blender at the end anyhow. 

Sauce—I made tomato sauce using just olive oil, diced onions, diced garlic, and a big can of ground peeled tomatoes. Please don't even think of buying sauce from a jar, which is filled with stuff you don't want, like sugars and preservatives. Even a plain old can of ground peeled tomatoes is better than a store bought sauce—it's bright and fresh.

Homemade pasta dough— I made Mario's basic dough recipe and rolled it super thin, using the 7th notch of my pasta maker so it would be light and tender.

Mint and pea ravioli—You can make the ravioli into any shape you wish of course. To make the envelope ravioli, I simply made rectangular squares, then added on a little triangular flap on the top. Don't overstuff them or they will be messy or explode when cooking.

Final touches—Be sure to have a good hunk of Parm-Reg or Grano Padano cheese to grate over the top of your love letters, and lots of fresh mint leaves.

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Because this meal was so time consuming to prepare, I admit it was a labor of love and took a good part of an afternoon. You'll need to make the merguez, the sauce, the homemade pasta, the mint and pea filling for the ravioli, and then assemble the ravioli. But if you have a snowy winter day, it's a fun to play in the kitchen. You could make all this in advance, even a day or two before your planned dinner date. The all you would need to do is boil water for the ravs, warm the sauce, and chop some fresh mint. There will be plenty leftover to freeze for another meal or two.

photos, Dan + Diane

Monday, March 3, 2014

Manchester marsh

Manchester Marsh  6 x 9  


This new painting is of a salt marsh in Manchester, Mass. in a little point between Black Beach and White Beach. I like that there is no horizon line here, much like the autumn marsh painting that I made about a month ago. Often I share inspiration photos which are made up of colors palettes that speak to me, and below are some images that directly influenced this painting, which was green grass to most eyes. I see things differently. Through my eyes, I see see the greens of course, but I also see turquoise and lavender colors in the darkest green grass, and a soft peach color in the light tips of the grass.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Citrus fruits

photo by Brittany Wright

What a beautiful photograph, with all those scrumptiously zesty colors. They remind me that spring is right around the corner! Isn't it?... Click here to see more of Brittany's gorgeous foodie photos  on Instagram, or here to visit her website!