21 December 2014

Blended Persimmon Mocktail

The uglier they are, the better they taste. That's what my husband always reminds me about persimmons. I Love persimmons with a capital L. Truly. It is also one of the fruits that I can't wait for the season to arrive. It has a ephemeral season here so when they are out, I wait for a few days to pass to get to the real season then I scramble to stuff myself and my husband with the really ripe, squashed and quite ugly persimmons. I love eating persimmons that I chill in the fridge first, cut them in half and scoop out the soft flesh with a teaspoon. I don't really know what variety we get in Italy but if you see the orange-skinned delicate-looking ones that look like they are ready to explode, then that is the kind that I am speaking about. I did make a Persimmon and Yogurt Marsala Dessert once and it came out delicious but after that, I just concentrated on my persimmon scooping activity to enjoy the fruit without any other ingredients involved. 

20 December 2014

3 Impressive Cocktail Glass Party Appetizers

What constitutes an awesome party? Heaps of great food and alcohol (if the guests are more than 18) and wonderful people. I have always loved giving parties ever since I was young, I mean really young. When I was given the green light to drink (I started earlier than 18), I spent the birthday money I received from my parents in giving parties instead of buying something material for my birthday. Sometimes, a little bit still remains that I get to buy a nice shirt or something. My Mom would always try to convince me to go for something I really wanted like clothes or electronics which I also love but parties win on my priorities hands down.

19 December 2014

Garlicky Sautèed Bok Choy

Some vegetables are just meant to be tossed fast in a wok or saucepan with a few basic ingredients to attain that Asian touch. I had some garlic, soy sauce and sesame seeds to give the bok choy that Asian flavor that I had been longing to have. As much as I love Italian cuisine, the need to touch base with Asian food is a must sometimes. With bok choy fresh from the Asian market, the only way I cook them is a quick sautè with my basic Asian stash in the cupboard.

16 December 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Adobo

If there is a dish from my childhood that I would like to keep on recreating, it has to be adobo. I love the contrast between the saltiness and tartness of the soy sauce and lemons with the unmistakable presence of garlic. It is the national dish of the Philippines and it has every reason to be everyone's favorite because it is just good. In fact, among all the Filipino dishes that I have introduced to my family, adobo always comes out the winner. No one says no to it and however much I put on the table, it always ends up wiped out especially when I cook the rice with the sauce.

15 December 2014

Vegetarian Couscous

I was not impressed with myself with my first trial in cooking with couscous a few years ago. It became a soft mass of unidentifiable object. Surely, I did something wrong so I gave it another try but the outcome was the same after following the instructions to the dot. Cooking instant couscous doesn't really require so much cooking skills because you just soak it in boiling water and it swells on its own a after a few minutes. What I did find out is that I should use the one with good quality. With its history in mind, I knew I would find the right one eventually because couscous is widely used in Sicilian cuisine, especially in area of Trapani (western part) because its history is intertwined with a couple of North African countries namely Libya and Tunisia. For that, couscous is not a foreign ingredient in Italy. After knocking down another pack, I finally found the brand that I liked in the only shop where I can get good quality tapioca.

13 December 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Ham, Cheese and Spinach

Depending on how you look at it, you may cringe at the amount of bacon I used here or you may actually love it. I was 50-50. I don't shy away from using pancetta (Italy's answer to bacon) in my cooking because it never fails to give a kick of added flavor to dishes. But I think that this is the first recipe I ever made with a whole load of pancetta wrapped snuggly around the meatloaf.

12 December 2014

Foil-Baked Bananas with Chocolate and Rum

It's mid-morning and the kitchen smells heavenly. Why shouldn't it, with the oven roaring hot with bananas mixed with chocolate, rum and cinnamon baking inside. Can you imagine the smell emanating from that heat? It's one of those baking scents that makes the house feel homey like a waft of coziness embracing you. That is how I always imagined my house to be, where the kitchen stars as the heart of the house, where the family gathers and stay together.

11 December 2014

3 Mediterranean-Style Salads (Italian, Spanish and Greek) with Burrata

For someone who is not into fresh cheese and cream, you will be surprised if I say that I love burrata. I find the mozzarella and cream oozing out from its mozzarella shell purely irresistible. And my husband knows that because when he encounters some fresh products from Puglia (the Italian region where they are made), he buys a ball or two for me and mozzarella for himself. Between mozzarella and burrata, yes, I have a weakness for the latter which I love to eat with extra virgin olive oil drizzled over it and some tomatoes and basil if available. That, for me is a grand salad to be enjoyed with every bite. And I have 3 more recipes here that are reminiscent of 3 neighboring countries known for their Mediterranean diets. Greece, Spain and of course, Italy.

07 December 2014

Chicken, Bacon and Potato Casserole

The weather is such a downer these past days. I wake up to very gray skies, the sun sometimes comes out for a fraction of the morning then continuous drizzling comes to along with ugly dark skies. Sun, rain, wind, lightnings, these alternate themselves throughout the day. Sigh, I never saw so much rain in autumn before. I wonder when all these dark heavy clouds will leave the sky and finally clear up to the usual beautiful blue skies of Rome. The Mediterranean winter seems to be far from arriving from how the weather has been lately. It keeps giving me a reason to tuck everyone inside and stay away from the howling winds and from getting wet and cold. Even our dog understands that because he spends more time lying down in front of the heaters.

05 December 2014

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Skewers

The other day, I overheard my daughter ask my husband what carnivores are. It was a big word for a child of 4 (by the way, she turned 5 yesterday) so both my husband and I were proud and surprised at such a grown-up question. After my husband explained to her what it means, she then proceeded by saying that we are omnivores then like our dog because we eat both vegetables and meat. Stunned, I heard my husband exploding with shouts of Brava! She loves enriching her vocabulary in both Italian and English. Words keep her company in the afternoons she spends in front of the TV, Ipad and her drawings and she loves to associate the words she knows with examples in real life.

02 December 2014

Grilled Chicken and Avocado Salad

Today, I had two slices of red velvet cake adorned with Smarties. It's my son's friend's birthday and his mom made him a lovely and delicious cake for the special occasion. Because I loved it, I went back to her for my second slice and I didn't listen to the calorie counter buzzing. In two days instead, my daughter is turning 5. That means that in two days time, I will be eating slices of chocolate millefoglie (mille feuille) birthday cake with the Paw Patrol dogs staring at me. Chocolate is her choice of flavor while millefoglie is my husband's choice of birthday cake. The two combined together in choosing the birthday cake can be dangerous to the calorie level. But birthdays only come once a year and to be around, perfectly healthy, is a very good reason to celebrate it.

01 December 2014

Roma Food & Wine Festival 2014

Roma Food and Wine Festival. I marked the date in my calendar. I wish I can mark all three days but I can only choose one day. I went for the opening day at lunch time with my husband while the kids remained with their grandaunt for the day. While they had their grandaunt's polpettine al pomodoro (meatballs in tomato sauce) which they love to high heavens, we had instead, an excellent lunch of food and wine pairings of Italy's best.

28 November 2014

Italian Baked Parmesan Mussels

I remember an experience an American friend of mine was telling me, that when he was asking for some grated Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on his seafood pasta when he was in a restaurant here in Italy, instead of being handed the cheese, he received a short lecture from the elderly waiter about not mixing cheese with seafood. He was shocked and amused at the experience. And true to his word, the elderly waiter did not give him the Parmigiano Reggiano. 

27 November 2014

Foodes, Straight from the Chefs' Kitchen to Your Table

If it is Made in Italy, it will get my attention and my support. Because utmost attention and care are always foremost in Italian gastronomy, I raise both my hands and give all my trust to the country that feeds my children with good quality food. There is a vast awareness of nutritional values, hygienic ways of preserving food, maintenance of high quality and keeping the gastronomic traditions. And for that, I know that my kids are in good hands in the kitchen. Foodes epitomizes all these.

26 November 2014

Nettle-Filled Beef Rolls in Red Wine & Balsamic Vinegar

Nettles have always been considered the bothersome weeds at home. My kids (dog included) learned to stay away from them after experiencing the pain that comes after touching them. You know how those little ones are. They only listen to you after experiencing the pain themselves. The dog's yelp and shrilly shrieks of Mommy seal the promise of never going close to them anymore.

The thing is, we have quite an abundant growth of nettles around the house that I keep on pulling and throwing away. They are delicious with risotto (which I have to share pretty soon too) but my cooking with them is limited there. When I was in the Republic of Georgia last spring, one of the best dishes I had was a very simple and fresh tasting plate of sautèed nettles. 

24 November 2014

Grilled Figs on Yogurt and Balsamic Glaze

It's not fig season anymore, I know, but I would like to share with you this very late recipe post that I originally created for Skinny Ms. about a month ago (when fig season was just ending). It is a very simple breakfast recipe that I think is worth taking note of when the figs pop out again, or better yet, you can also use other kinds of fruits that are good for grilling. 

Gourd Noodle Soup with Shrimp and Miso

The sinking feeling I felt seemed like it was endless when I discovered that the pictures of this dish were nowhere to be found in my computer nor in my external drives. I have four to be sure. One I use regularly, that's always hooked to my computer all the time and three others are backups of the contents of my main one. Call it paranoia but if I didn't have these backups, I would have completely lost ALL my pictures. The latest external drive that I bought showed a flatline and I tried desperately a hundred of times to fix the problem to no avail. I got 98% of the pictures back from my backups and lost the other 2% and this dish in that little bracket of lost files. This is the only picture I have left. Sigh.

23 November 2014

Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Baked Seafood Pouches)

The best part of this dish is when I snip off the string that ties the pouch. Then a whiff of the incredible scent of the sea and herbs greets me. Just for a few seconds, I close my eyes and enjoy the aroma of the contents of the pouch in front of me. The heat and steam intensifies the flavors that makes me think of only one thing. My, that smells fresh and healthy! I love seafood and if you make me choose between them and meat, I would choose seafood without blinking an eye.

21 November 2014

Binalot: Chicken Pork Adobo and Steamed Rice Wrapped in Banana Leaves

How unique is it to unwrap a big banana leaf and find out that your lunch is inside that package? You call this binalot in the Philippines and it means wrapped in the local language. Lunches were packed in banana leaves years ago then slowly, the styrofoam era took over and replaced these quintessential Filipino lunch packs. You can find almost any classic dish in these binalot packs and one of the popular lunches is adobo. Inside these packs are the meat or fish, accompanied with eggs and tomatoes. They are usually salted duck eggs (itlog na maalat) and they are eaten with fresh tomatoes. Since I cannot find them in Italy, hard boiled eggs are my only option.

20 November 2014

Grilled Tofu with Homemade Plum Sauce

I admit, I am not the biggest fan of tofu. I only eat it in very selected dishes when the other flavors in the dish overpower it. Every time I cook tofu, the topic of going vegetarian ensues between me and my husband. He can, I can't. He wants to, I don't want to. I see that it is an idea that he has been toying with lately and I don't have anything against it. I can easily cook for him but the kids and I will have to stick to our omnivore eating habits for now. I believe that vegetarianism is every individual's choice of diet, not something enforced on them (unless it is for medical reasons). Both kids' favorite food is pasta con ragù or meat sauce and my daughter clams up when she is confronted with anything green on her plate so it is unlikely that they are turning vegetarians for now.

Fajitas with Meat Sauce and Feta

It's never a problem when I have a big leftover of ragù or tomato meat sauce because after having it with pasta, I use it for another meal again which everyone loves too. Those are rare moments when I don't hear any complaints of "again?" because even if it's the same old ragù, the whole thing is completely different. I use the ragù for filling up tortillas along with some feta and other fresh ingredients like tomatoes, lettuce and onions. It is so good that sometimes, I cook the ragù for making these fajitas then what remains goes to the pasta for our next meal.

19 November 2014

Purple Potatoes, Grapefruit and Asparagus Salad

I still remember how desperate I was three years ago in looking for the purple potatoes in Italy. I searched the internet continuously until I found a UK online shop that sells them and ships to Italy. For days, I would visit the site and would almost hit the pay button but stop myself at the very last second because they were ridiculously expensive. I really wanted to have them but the price was seriously holding me back.

18 November 2014

Chickpea, Arugula and Onion Salad

Ho-hum. My legs are buckling, my back is tired and I can't wait for the day to end. There are moments when I feel like this after getting lost in the endless tunnel of household chores and work. When I am alone at home, I look for the quickest way to eat and restrain myself from grabbing a pack of chips (if there is one lying around) before I plop myself down on the couch. In moments like these, I just feel like taking all the shortcuts I can in preparing my meals but without sacrificing the nutrients from the food. That's the time when I search through my cupboards for something quick and easy to prepare. We all have our mainstays in the pantry shelves and in my realm, I always have cans of tuna, corn, tomato puree, beans and chickpeas. So for this dish, I grabbed a can of chickpeas, drained them and poured them on my plate.

17 November 2014

Baked Shoestring-Potato Crusted Fish

I am ALWAYS late for my chores every morning. How can time fly so fast? One minute I am bidding my family goodbye at the front door and the next minute, it's already time to pick up my daughter in school. I usually set my phone's reminder an hour ahead of time so I will be aware that my time is almost up and I can do the last-minute things before going out. One of them is a simple lunch that my daughter would eat. I can only count with my fingers the kinds of food that she willingly eats and sole is one of them.

16 November 2014

Asian Beef and Vegetable Stew in Clear Broth (Filipino Beef Nilaga)

It's been raining buckets and the wind howling outside. And to think the weather forecast for today was sunny. Our potted plants and trees are all down as usual and but I am not as bothered as I was before because I just emptied all my calamansi lemon trees yesterday morning. They are all in a large bowl in the kitchen ready to be squeezed tomorrow for pitchers of Calamansi Juice with Mint that we all love at home. Having calamansi lemons in Italy in the middle of autumn is a novelty because these plants grow in warmer climates like in the Philippines. In fact, it's a part of a lot of Filipino dishes and dipping sauces.