While I almost always read the books suggested by the foodie book club,Cook the Books, I don't always find the time to participate in cooking something based on the selection. I was determined to get back in the swing of things despite deadlines for finishing my latest quilt, a family wedding, and life, in general.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen raises an issue dear to a foodie's heart: do certain foods really have the power to control our emotions? Claire Waverly, a successful caterer, prepares dishes with the mystical plants that grow in her garden. If it sounds like a familiar theme (e.g. Like Water for Chocolate), I would venture to say that is because those of us who take our food seriously believe that food can and does alter moods and emotions. How sisters Claire and Sydney resolve their long-standing issues and how Claire finally uses her special gifts to transform her own life are questions I'll leave you to discover by reading this charming southern novel.
While no mention was made in Garden Spells of the caper, in biblical times the caper berry was purported to have aphrodisiac properties. In fact, the Hebrew word for caper berry abiyyonah (אֲבִיּוֹנָה) is closely linked to the Hebrew root אבה, meaning "desire". That said, I decided my offering for this Cook the Books' event would be "Voluptuous Veal Piccata." I based my recipe on one I found in Skinny Italian, one of Teresa Giudice's (Real Housewife of New Jersey) cookbooks. While the veal was relatively healthy, I served it with creamy polenta (yes, it has heavy cream in it) and some lovely roasted asparagus.
1 lb veal scaloppine, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbs EVOO
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs drained capers
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
Pound the veal between 2 sheets of waxed paper until about 1/4 inch thick. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper and place in a shallow dish. Dredge the cutlets in the mixture, shaking to remove excess flour.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the veal to the pan, in batches without crowding, to brown--1 minute per side. Remove the veal from the pan and set aside.
Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the butter, lemon juice, capers, garlic, and parsley. Return the veal to the pan and cook, turning the veal to coat with the sauce, until the veal is tender, about 1 minute more. Serve hot.
This is a very simple recipe, but it is delicious. Served over creamy polenta, it was, indeed, voluptuous. Was my SO more amorous after finishing it? Some things are better left to the imagination. Be sure to head over to Cook the Books to see what other members are cooking up for Garden Spells.