Thursday, July 7, 2011


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. 

Serves 2-4
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.


  1. Wow does this ever make me want to eat this right now! Great recipe and awesome photo!

  2. I love capers but I never knew they were an aphrodesiac! I must make this and watch Paul for interest...

  3. Yum! I love anything piccata because it includes delicious capers! ;-)

  4. Having finally gotten my Dear One to appreciate the anchovy, I don't know if I can get him into one of his other current food dislikes, the caper, but this sauce may get him over it.

    Thanks for sending this over to Cook the Books~!

  5. Fun! This sounds and looks absolutely delicious.

  6. Arlene I love your blog! I am not the best cook but your posts always inspire me...
    Hope you are having the best time ever beading with Nancy E....I took a class from her years ago and loved it!

  7. Allie, thanks for visiting The Food of Love. Today was my second day of beading and we did some "writing in script" with beads and began some dimensional beading. I am amazed at the results in just 2 days. This is a fabulous place for workshops (Hudson River Valley Fiber Art Workshops). I think you should come and teach here! Two of us-maybe more--are going to try to get to Glastonbury next year.

  8. Chicken Piccata is one of my all time favorite dishes - so I love this recipe using veal. Your pictures are beautiful and your descriptions is mouthwatering! Love your pos!

  9. I loves me some piccata and some capers of course. (Who knew they were such frisky little things?) ;-) This is a great dish to represent the book. So nice to have you joining in this round of CTB!

  10. I really do believe that food has power over our emotions.

    Veal is such a tender and succulent meat, but I rarely use it due to it's high prices. This looks nothing short of amazing.

    By the way, I think of you every time I sit down to watch the Real Housewives of NJ.

  11. What a great post! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I love how you segued from capers to the seductive veal too! Pairing the veal picatta with creamy polenta was sheer genius, and a sneaky way to make sure you don't miss a drop of that slinky sauce! Way to go!

  12. Wow, this sounds amazing, and looks delicious!

    A Platter of Figs

  13. Great take on the book and interesting fact about capers. I would love to try this dish.

  14. A delicious contribution to our round-up. That veal with polenta is on my list to try soon. I knew there was a reason I liked capers, other than taste.

  15. Arlene this recipe looks amazing! Thank you for your warm welcome to CTB! I am so inspired by you, and others that I can't wait for the next book. I can't wait to try this on my family.


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