We have been staying outdoors the past days. The days are longer, the temperature is pleasantly warm with a cool breeze and the sun has been been shining so beautifully. This is the reason why I love spring so much. It's the best period to stay outside, work in the garden (when I am able to detach myself from the kitchen and computer), start eating outside and watch the kids and dog enjoy nature. Right now, both kids are sitting on the apricot tree and enjoying their elevated position while our dog is relaxing at the foot of the tree. Sure, my laundry loads grow along with the warmth of the temperature because the kids stay outdoors with newer games that make them dirtier and dirtier. But I think the kids don't stay like that for a long time.
02 May 2015
30 April 2015
If you've got ten minutes, then you can easily put this together and enjoy what real freshness means. When all your ingredients are raw, fresh and crispy, you retain all the vitamins and minerals that go with them. Because if the vegetables are just picked (for that I like the kilometer zero produce) and not cooked, then you actually get almost all the nutrients that go with the vegetables. Kilometer zero produce is widely pushed in Italy because the vegetables and fruits are grown in the area itself where they are being sold and consumed. They are picked later, they don't travel and the transportation cost is at the minimal. All these together make the fresh produce cheaper and with much superior quality. Of course, not unless there is a specialty produce that grows only in one area of the country.
Start early with a good splash of bubbles in your glass. I am not speaking about pure chilled bubbly wines in the champagne flute, just half of it mixed with fruit juices, different kinds to make mimosas more fun to drink. Usually, I like pouring a good bottle of champagne or spumante (after all, I am in Italy) with fresh orange juice when I travel and stay in hotels that are attentive to certain breakfast details. A little corner for making mimosas in the breakfast buffet table is always appreciated!
29 April 2015
When you are in the streets of Rome, whether you are at the outskirt or at the center of the city, you can't miss the number of pizzerie (pizza places) greeting you every few hundred meters. Italy is synonymous with pizza because after all, this delicious flat pie was born here. You can also imagine how good they all are and how, from one pizzeria to another, you get the best of the best.
25 April 2015
How can you not avoid tofu in Asian cooking? I have a tug-o-war love with tofu. Sometimes, I cannot stand its texture and taste while at times, I cannot stop myself from eating everything in sight. There's nothing in the middle. It's either I love it or hate it. And the only reason for that is because of the way it was cooked and seasoned. I like them fried in this Fried Tofu & Pork With Vinegar Dressing (Tokwa't Baboy) and I like them sweet for breakfast in this Taho: Soft Tofu, Vanilla Syrup & Tapioca in a Glass.
24 April 2015
Old castles have unique characters and stories that breathe from its walls and grounds. From north to south, Italy is dotted with them and from town to town, the sizes depend on the wealth of the town and settlers in the ancient times. The important ones have been converted to museums and hold the ancient treasures found in the area. But there are also the minor castles with histories of their own, some maintained well by the succession of heirs while some are forgotten while nature slowly takes over it.
23 April 2015
My favorite season is spring. The transition from winter to warmer weather with bluer skies and splendid sunny days gives me more more energy to create new things in the kitchen. The fruits, vegetables and edible blossoms make an inspiring challenge to put them together to come up with new fresh flavors. It's that time when you spend longer time in the fresh produce stalls and you wish you can everything at the same time. In this case, I did have a reason to get more than what I needed because I created 4 new combinations of cheese, fruits, vegetables and fresh blossoms from my flowering herbs. The flavors are fresh and it's one of the best ways to celebrate the beautiful season ahead of us. Here are 4 easy bruschetta recipes (with link to She Knows) that I created what's available this season.
18 April 2015
Going around today, I couldn't wait to get out of my winter shoes, jeans and sweater. It was sweltering hot walking around under the sun! I still haven't had the time to switch our clothes to the next season so we are still wearing the lightest winter clothes I can get. And the lightest weren't even enough. I was longing to wear sandals, shorts and tank tops. I promised myself that I will have to face the herculean job of switching clothes tomorrow. Wish me luck!
16 April 2015
Have you ever used your microwave for cooking? Maybe I should ask first if you have a microwave at home. I know someone who doesn't trust microwaves at all even if she has one at home, which means she barely uses it. I am guessing that there are a lot of people like her too. Radiation is a major concern about it but after reading a bit from trustworthy sites like the FDA, we can be assured that microwave cooking is not bad for our health. In fact, since it takes much less time in cooking than regular ovens, it retains the natural vitamins and minerals more. I google anything that comes across my mind and when I do so, a lot of sites come out speaking about contradicting things. It's frustrating sometimes because a lot of people write about important health issues that speak about contradicting things without basis. So choose the sites well when you want to know about something important.
15 April 2015
Carbonara, that fully-loaded pasta that everyone loves but cannot eat as much as they want. There are the toasted pancetta, eggs, loads of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses and the pasta itself. Truly, there is nothing not to love about this absolutely delicious dish but it is just heavy and it is something to be enjoyed just a few times. I rarely make carbonara, but when I do, I make sure that I make bigger portions because it is one of the favorite dishes at home.
After an unplanned long weekend away from home, over everything - a break from work, I am back with a fresher mind in continuing where I left off. Five days have been a lot in staying away from my blog but I think I needed it because I got to spend more time with myself and my family. There were a lot that needed noticing and one of them was how life rolls with my computer closed and being hundreds of kilometers away from my kitchen. Sometimes a little reminder can make a tenfold difference.
09 April 2015
It has been years and I can still remember how good the salads were in Greece. I can still pick some ingredients from my memory like feta, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, loads of extra virgin olive oil. The freshness of the vegetables in my mouth and the sweetness of the tomatoes are still vivid. I rarely order salads in restaurants but when I was in Greece, it was one of the dishes that I kept on ordering. The flavors of freshness were explosive in the mouth and their salad convinced me how important the quality of the vegetables are. The main rule applies - the simpler, the better.
08 April 2015
I usually precook the meat before I put it in the slow cooker but this time, I placed all the ingredients altogether, pressed start and waited for six hours. The sauce (which never evaporates in the slow cooker) got a very quick postcooking treatment in a small saucepan to thicken it which I poured back on the chicken. Do you want to know the outcome? It is one of the best tasting chicken I have ever had.
06 April 2015
I had a great Easter weekend. Did you? This year, my family and I stayed put in Rome and celebrated Easter Sunday with some relatives. My husband's aunt hosted the lunch in her house so our assignment was just to take the bottles of red wine. Again, no cooking for me. I was on a kitchen holiday and it had been a delicious treat. The food, as always, had been very good with some traditional homemade torta pasquale or Easter cheese bread (we had two versions), salame and egg to start the long and abundant meat-based lunch. To conclude it, we had some of aunt-in-law's pastiera napoletana, a typical Easter pie made with ricotta that originated from Naples.
04 April 2015
The refrigerator had been continuously full lately because I had a lot of recipes queueing to be cooked and photographed. I try not to waste ingredients so I make sure that I get to cook the recipes that use the same ingredients together on the same day (I wish!), maximum 2 (more realistic) or even 3 days (hoping the ingredients resist to stay fresh). The thing is, my main concern is how to keep the contents from tumbling out when we open the door.
03 April 2015
They're beans alright. Pouts. Sigh. But there are bits of pancetta (or bacon) too. Really? Now that's more like it. Beans cooked in dark beer with bits of toasted pancetta (pancetta is easier to get here) is a delicious way to eat beans. I have to say that I really love the Mexican frijoles borrachos because the dark beer and bacon make it so full of flavors. A more genuine dish would have epazote but it's nowhere to be found here in Italy even the dried ones. So my own version of this drunken bean dish is simplified with canned beans (of which I usually use borlotti or cannellini instead of pinto), bacon (pancetta) and dark beer.
01 April 2015
Turning on the oven adds to the electric bill a whole lot and I try to find other ways to cut down in using it whenever I can. Fried or baked? I choose baked anytime. But slow cooker over oven? I would usually prefer the oven but with this recipe, I find that the slow cooker works perfectly well. You don't need an oven to make this vegetarian casserole. Just a couple of hours in the slow cooker is enough to attain the beautiful double cheese and breadcrumb crust on top of the broccoli and cauliflower.
30 March 2015
The other day, I had an insistent craving for something unhealthy. I had been trying to shoo it away but it remained there in my mind and it clearly wouldn't go away until I had no choice but to relent. It's clear that I had the choice because I could have just stayed firm and went for the healthy route. I had the strongest craving for potato chips and chocolates downed with ice cold soda and so I had them for a late afternoon snack that later became dinner because they filled me up and I didn't digest fast enough when dinnertime came. It was short of saying that I didn't feel so great afterwards and I wished that I never had any but hey, we all have our unhealthy but happy moments.
25 March 2015
When my kids casually stroll to the kitchen while I am preparing dinner, they usually look around for some clues what will be on the table soon. Seafood has a particular aroma so they already know that it will be one of those meals that they cannot complain about. If their father requires them to eat their fruit everyday, I make sure that we all have fresh seafood on the table at least once a week. With my persistence, they each have their own favorites now after a struggle of even making them eat before. My son loves clams, shrimp and salmon while my daughter loves salmon but only with soy sauce and lemon dipping sauce. For now it is like that but I know that when they grow older, they will open more possibilities for more kinds of seafood.
24 March 2015
You're not too tired yet of all these slow cooker recipes avalanching from my blog are you? It's ok to admit it because I myself am getting weary continuing to write about slow cooker this and slow cooker that. But let's face it. We still do have our slow cookers on our kitchen counters and we still are using it, aren't we? In fact, I have another recipe project for tomorrow that should be published in about 10 days. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am the only one who takes away the slow cooker and puts the gelato maker in its place because I am already starting with summer recipe projects. I have a small kitchen so I have to learn how to systematize things around me.
23 March 2015
Everytime I pass one of the three apricot trees in our compound, I gaze at the budding blossoms waiting to open up and delight us with its beauty. Out of the three, the one in the sunniest position blossoms ahead of the other two. We have some fruit trees in the garden but the apricot is my favorite. Its small white flowers coming out from the dark pink to almost bordeaux buds are spectacular. These blossoms are already out as well as the quince blossoms and some other beautiful buds that are preparing to bloom.
When quinoa became a sensation, everyone, including me, started using it everywhere. One of the first recipes where I used it in a unique way (that became quite popular) was in a smoothie. When I had some leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge and I needed something to thicken my Chamomile, Strawberry & Quinoa Smoothie, I looked at the quinoa resting in its bowl and I thought, why not? That 'why not' gained me quite a number of ripples in my blog. It is also one of my favorite smoothies because it is healthy, subtle and delicate.
22 March 2015
Solar eclipses don't happen often so when I saw in the television that it can be seen partially in Rome, I couldn't wait for the day. Friday it was and both of my kids were home. After all the prep talk about the importance of not looking straight at the sun, explaining and demonstrating to them how the moon will cross the sun's path, we always go back to number one. What will happen again Mommy? And more than anything, they had an intensifying fear of the sun. They refused to go out and see the eclipse outside. Did I explain something wrong?
20 March 2015
From a food photographer's point of view, there are some kinds of food that are impossible to take good photos of. Soups and brown food are examples and when I have them in the list of recipes that I have to create, I dread the time when I have to take photographs because however much the creative juices are running in my mind or whatever food props I use, I come out with a barely acceptable piece. But that doesn't mean that the food is not delicious. That just means that looks can be really deceiving because non-photogenic subjects can be also the next best dish that you've ever had. I just wonder how I can make it a winner too in the photos.
There's the kid in me that gets very excited when meatballs are for dinner. All kids love them don't they? And that continues on until adulthood. Love for meatballs doesn't have barriers or limits and there even so many different kinds to enjoy. Ideas are also becoming more creative and nowadays we can find some that are adapted to most diet needs like these mouthwatering meatballs cooked in tomato sauce and with melted mozzarella cheese in the middle. Did I just get your attention? Since tomorrow spring officially starts, I would like to share this meatball recipe before you stash away your slow cooker. And to be honest, I think I still have a few slow cooker recipes to share.