Nile Rodgers first introduced me to Chef Joe DiMaggio Jr. while covering Feast for Peace for the We Are Family Foundation last year. We finally met in person last week to talk food, cooking together, and television.
Jewels filming in Elizabeth Emmanuel period costume

Jewels filming in Elizabeth Emmanuel period costume

My taste buds are still dancing with joy over cooking with Joe and his food-loving co host Marc Gomes Saturday, then sitting down to enjoy a historical feast with friends and fascinating anthropological experts for their mind-blowingly original new show.
Julie Anne Rhodes and Normandie Keith

Julie Anne Rhodes and Normandie Keith

Rather than give the whole kit and caboodle away prematurely, here’s a sneak peek at the amazing menu we prepared, but first let me thank the drop-dead gorgeous Normandie Keith for very kindly letting us film in her resplendent home…
Wickedly good "Eggs in Pergatory"

Wickedly good “Eggs in Pergatory”

… and to Joe for introducing me to “Eggs in Pergatory”. Eggs poached in his heavenly marinara sauce (that he managed to whip up quicker than I could blink) topped with Italian parsley, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Chef Joe DiMaggio Jr. at work

Sicilian Citrus Salad

Most pleasantly satiated, it was time to get down to business. Chef instructed me as to how he wanted the ingredients chopped for this simple, yet exquisite, 400 year old Sicilian Citrus Salad of oranges, red onion, Italian parsley, oregano, and unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil – my new favorite ingredient for the peppery bite that grows as you savor it.

Apples for Apple, Cheese, and Chive Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

After mentioning my unfortunate mishap with the mandolin preparing for Ultimate Recipe Showdown, the chivalrous chef took over making this Green Apple, Manchego cheese, and Chive Salad that also originated 400 years ago, with the Iroquois Tribe.

Grandma’s Sicilian Eggplant

Marc got the lovely task of frying endless slices of eggplant that I later assembled into the beautiful Sicilian Eggplant antpasti comprised of fried eggplant, marinara sauce, mint, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The mint makes the dish distinctively Sicilian since basil would be the more obvious herb for an Italian dish. The recipe has been passed down through the generations in Joe’s family, and is currently on the menu at his newest restaurant, Sa Za in Montgomery, Alabama. Also on the menu is…

Seven Grain Crusted Salmon with Lemon & Tarragon Beurre Blanc

Napoleon Bonaparte’s personal favorite, this Seven Grain Crusted Salmon with a Tarragon infused Chardonnay Beurre Blanc Sauce and Caramelized Peas with Onions. Again scintillating simplicity that consists of salmon, Dijon mustard, and the seven grains laced with chopped tarragon. You might say I lost my beurre blanc virginity as it was the first one I’d ever made (with chef’s tutelage), and so yummy I wanted to bathe in it!

Onions, raisins, dates, capers, pine nuts, almonds, olives, and mint

Twelve hundred year old recipe for chicken pie

Then the big guns, or in this case pumpernickel bread, came out when Joe made this amazing 1200 year old Chicken Pie dating back to the Saracen rule of Sicily circa 810 AD. The sweet and savory ingredients included onions, dates, raisins, capers, olives, pine nuts, almonds, roasted peppers, mushrooms, wine, chicken, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and eggs that set off a chain reaction bursting with flavor in my mouth, with every taste bud firing away, while the aroma alone, was enough to make me go weak at the knees.

The dinner crew

We sat down to an unprecedented feast with a lively discussion about how most of these dishes came into existence before the first known recorded recipe in the late 1800’s. They simply consisted of lists (without specific instructions) of indigenous ingredients with flavors influenced by whatever culture happened to be in power at the time. How the occupations of a country left subtle, yet indelible marks upon the national cuisine, plus so much more you will have to wait to see.
Marc Gomes, Julie Anne Rhodes, and Joe DiMaggio Jr.

Marc Gomes, Julie Anne Rhodes, and Joe DiMaggio Jr.

The evening ended with very happy taste buds, full tummies, and smiles all round, plus this lovely message the next day…

Jewels,


You Landed the Plane for us!!! You were an amazing Warrior Sous Chef who brought Grace & Elegance to the kitchen. I would be proud to cook with you again & again. Thank You for helping make all of it possible, the setting, the generous Normandie giving up her Outstanding Home for the shoot. We appreciate you going out of your way. And, we’re doing it again…Grazia Mille! 

 

Bon Appetit,
Chef Joe DiMaggio, Jr.

 

Stay tuned for more information about where and when you can view this fascinating show. Have you ever thought about the evolution or provenance of the meal on your table?

This post was first published August 9, 2010

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