Mussels, clams, fish, lemons.... I still cannot get over my Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) fever. And what is the best medicine to an imaginary sickness like this? Reliving the moment through food. Not being able to capture the genuine tastes of the coast would eventually shake away these cobwebs. But persistence pays off because this pasta dish is a very good substitute to the true flavors of Amalfi Coast. Original recipe adapted from Chef Cecio.
30 December 2011
29 December 2011
After getting fully stuffed for two consecutive meals of Christmas celebrations, I was ready for something simple and light for dinner. I was deliberating between a plate of pasta or just salad. In fact, I was convinced that I would be having just a simple plate of pasta when we went back to our hotel in Scala. The restaurant proprietor proposed tagliatelle alla boscaiola. My son doesn't like mushrooms so a plate of scaloppine al limone (veal scallops with lemon) was suggested.
My immediate thought was when was the last time I had it myself? I love scaloppine al limone when they are very tasty and tender. I ordered the same, and was awarded with a genuinely delicious dish. The signora handling the kitchen took our order, cooked and placed the plates in front of us in no more than half an hour. It's a simple & quick recipe. I had the best scaloppine al limone in my life.
28 December 2011
I knew I should have listened to my gut feeling that the recipe of Nigella that I was following was overly-sweet. Sometimes failures can give surprising outcomes. When I tried the butterscotch sauce to top the ice cream pie, it made my hair stand up. It was out-of-the-limit sweet. And I am even one person who can't tolerate excessively (or just a tad) sweet cakes. My solution stared at me on the stove. My moka express was holding the answer. I need to add some espresso to neutralize the sugar.
24 December 2011
Chocolate truffles are truly irresistible. One of the best things I love looking at is endless rows of chocolate truffles of different varieties through a glass counter. They hypnotize me. Really.
I was looking at the picture I submitted to a food site when I happened to see a picture of delicious looking red wine truffles of The Art of Dessert in the same page. I clicked, read and found out that this icon of absoluteness is actually easy to do. That discovery sealed the truffles' accessibility to my cravings. And that permanently ended my bouts of glass counter hypnosis.
21 December 2011
Walking out of the bar / shop of the sprawling sanctuary of Santuario di Nostra Signora di Fatima, I was amused with the irony of my purchase but my husband was even more amused that I was able to buy something even from the church. What's in the bag? Infernale (infernal) condiment for making penne all' arrabbiata. Arrabbiata means angry.
Economical, easy and tasty (if you prefer to walk on the hot side). I usually avoid spicy food and for that reason, I made this pasta only now, after so many years of tiptoeing in its territory. I was wrong not to have cooked it all these years! I thought it was just a normal pasta dish with tomato sauce spiked with chillies. The chillies toasted in the oil with the garlic gave a different flavor to the pasta.
19 December 2011
After a delectable meal, there's nothing more agreeable than to conclude it with an equally delicious dessert. I think I am not alone on that. It is an integral part of a meal, that if well-orchestrated, gives the conclusive effect on the whole eating experience. The "run away there's cream in it" in me can even forget about desserts drowned in cream as long as the final piece to the gastronomic picture is scrumptious too.
On a daily basis at home, I rarely prepare desserts because we usually stop at the fruits after a meal. I only prepare this course when I cook an elaborate dinner. So, after a labor-intensive, but rewarding dinner, I served this
cream with dessert dessert with
cream. Maybe I am finally letting my hair down with all this dairy
constraint hang up, but yes, I did eat a whole bowl of this scrumptious
18 December 2011
A train ride, a tram ride and a leisurely walk after, Josie of Cumin in the Cupboard and I arrived at our destination, Campo de' Fiori, the square where the oldest market in Rome is located. Only, we were there at 12:55 and the market closes at 13:00. With five minutes to spare, we both opted for breakfast, brunch or lunch. The time says it's lunch but our stomachs say it's breakfast. On top of everything, there was an exigent need for caffeine to clear the morning cobwebs in our heads.
14 December 2011
When I noticed that the bookshelves were impregnated again (the last time was so many years ago), I finally gave in to the task that I had been procrastinating for a long time. Time to give in, accept that we have too many books and to start the herculean task of sorting the books. And when you succumb to this, there's no excuse anymore (laziness definitely included!) but to grab the feather duster and boxes and start sorting through them one by one. One box goes to the local library and another box to the recycling bin.
12 December 2011
One, I was aware that it's a Sunday. Two, I was also aware that it is just two weeks short of Christmas. Yet, I, along with my kids and husband, braved the shops to do our late Christmas shopping. For some of you, it might not be late yet, but for me, who never failed to arrive to December with a hole in the Christmas shopping list, I was already getting apprehensive.
11 December 2011
I'm a bigger meat eater than my significant other. He prefers the side dishes and I prefer the main courses. It's a perfect matrimony of selective allocation. I'm very finical with my vegetables and being a Mom can be stressful because I have to provide a healthy array of well-balanced food to my kids. That means cooking and eating all the vegetables like I am loving every single bite I take. Whew! Up until now, my little scheme is working so.... Ssshhhhhh! No one tells the kids that Mom is a closet fussy vegetable eater!
08 December 2011
Before having kids, I said I would start making cookies and cakes for them. My son was born and I made his baby food with my reliable baby food maker every single day up until he was big enough to be served adult food. The cookies and cakes never materialized from my oven. Mother duties took me away from my desire to be a baker mom.
07 December 2011
Every year, we make a 400 km. car trip from our house to Amatrice and back that takes about 5 hours just to have plates of spaghetti all'amatriciana. I know it sounds outrageous, but in Italy, it's not surprising to take long trips just to treat yourself with the food specialty of a town. If the food is exceptional, then it's worth every single kilometer. That is how everyone takes gastronomy seriously.
Arriving in Amatrice, we go directly to the restaurant known to serve the best spaghetti all'amatriciana in town, Hotel Ristorante Roma. The place has two big dining areas that are always completely full of people, really full that for a small, sleepy town, you wonder where all the people come from. Here we discovered that spaghetti all'amatriciana actually comes in two versions. The lesser known white and the popular red. With and without tomatoes. We all prefer the white and we see from the other tables that white is more popular too. It's a surprise because I usually love dishes with tomatoes. This one is an exception. It is one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever tried. No kidding.
04 December 2011
I had always believed that I don't like bitter vegetables. I just realized that I actually like some of them because when I encounter them in the market, I excitedly put them in my cart without any second thoughts. I surprised myself when I saw a cleaned and sliced pack of puntarelle (chicory) the other day and actually drooled all the way home imagining the delectable dressing that goes with it. It is a traditional salad of the region of Lazio, where Rome is. The inner and tender shoots of the chicory are cut into strips, curled by bathing them in iced water and dressed with anchovy, garlic, vinegar & extra virgin olive oil dressing. It is simple, delicious (if not a bit bitter) and well.... healthy.
02 December 2011
November seemed like a very long month this year and I am glad that we have moved on to December because it gives a promise of good cheers. All the months of the year are usually the same for me really. It's just that the month had passed by with too many things happening all at once. What left us very sore is when our 11-year old dog was diagnosed with cancer and died within a week. We took turns sitting with him and consoling him from his obvious pains. All the while, I was hoping to see him stand up and shake away this sadness that overtook his eyes and body. I found it much more difficult to sit down and explain to my son, the best friend who was to be left behind, about letting go when we ourselves had to face the reality that our long time companion was slipping away.
30 November 2011
I had been wanting to make a jug of clementine juice eversince I bought a big batch of the fruit but I just didn't have any idea on what to mix them with. I love clementines as a fruit, as a base for dessert & as a condiment to meat & fish. I have embarked on different recipes around this wonderful fruit but I remained clueless about one of the basic things. Juice. So while browsing the internet, I found a very interesting juice recipe in Priya's blog combining clementine juice with cinnamon. Being a bit peculiar because of its cinnamon syrup, I was unsure whether my family would like it. I was confident that I would like it because cinnamon is one thing I can't resist. Ever. Put cinnamon on anything and I would eat it.
28 November 2011
I was undecided whether to use my only big sweet potato as a dessert or as a side dish. As dessert, I have grown up liking it cooked with coconut milk and mixed with other rootcrops or fried and coated with syrup. This time, I boiled and mashed it and treated it like a regular mashed potato dish but mixed it with Bronte pistachios and cinnamon, two of my favorite ingredients.
27 November 2011
21 November 2011
17 November 2011
Aside from the spectacular Dolomites, the gastronomy of Sudtirol (South Tyrol) pulls me like a magnet. One of my favorite South Tyrolean dishes is this delicious canerdeli (knodel). It's available everywhere in South Tyrol. You can buy the ready-to-cook bread dumplings in the supermarkets or order them in the restaurants and the mountain shelters. They can be eaten in two ways. With hot vegetable broth or with melted butter, sprinkled with grated parmigiano reggiano on top.
10 November 2011
I never thought that honeycombs can be eaten. So, imagine my surprise when I spotted packages of them sandwiched in between dried figs and bottled honey. I was at the mall and I happened to pass by a big array of sweet delicacies from all over the country. They all came straight from small producers so most of them were unmarked just like the honeycombs. I was wondering if it's a way to show the pureness of the honey and if you squeeze the honey out of the honeycomb. I was informed that you eat everything along with the honey. So I bought one favo (honeycomb) knowing that there will be one person at home who would truly enjoy it.
This is where the other half of the daikon went to. I used half to make a salad that I loved from my youth in the Philippines. It is mixed with tomatoes and dressed with pure vinegar, the recipe of which I just posted. This one instead, has a milder tone because the vinegar was blended with sesame oil. Since the other salad's vinegar dressing has a big kick, I had to be considerate to prepare a more pleasant and milder vinegar experience for my husband who doesn't have a good relationship with this tart liquid.
09 November 2011
Labelled as daikon in the organic supermarket, I grabbed a big white radish on top of the pile, bagged it and weighed it. Sigh, after so many years, I meet this radish again. I have known this vegetable as labanos in the Philippines. Imagining it thinly sliced, combined with chopped tomatoes and drowned in vinegar, I couldn't help hastening my movements. I had to prepare it quickly. As much as I loved this salad when I was younger, it had been ages since I last had it. I had completely forgotten about it.
08 November 2011
A day without pasta at home is strange up to the point of being unacceptable, so I make sure that the kids have one for lunch or dinner. I usually cook the pasta for lunch and meat or fish for dinner. Having had so much squash these past days, I had to come up with different ways to cook it. This pasta dish is so simple to do and the kids loved it. They loved it enough to ask for seconds so I am filing this as a keeper.
04 November 2011
When I took home a butternut squash from the organic supermarket, its unfamiliar shape got my son's attention. I told him that it's a squash and a lengthy discussion started. He held ground that squashes are round not elongated. Imagining how jack-o'-lanterns look like, he shook his head, negating the thought of an elongated one. So, I embarked on a quick explanation of the squash family's different shapes & sizes. I really don't know if I convinced him.
02 November 2011
There are times when I am seriously pressed for time that the most logical thing to do is whip up something quick and easy but keeping in mind to retain the healthy aspect of the meal. This is one of the quick & easy meals that I love preparing at times like this. I usually have the ingredients except for the avocado but smoked salmon, eggs and bread are quite staple in our house.
30 October 2011
Small tentacles here, there and everywhere. Because my son, Riccardo loves this pasta, I prepare it. Because he eats with enthusiastic enjoyment, I prepare it. Because Sofia copies him in eating it, I prepare it. But because I don't like tentacles, I wish I was not preparing it. Can you imagine my uneasiness in cleaning so many little octopuses? But I am a mother so I will just shut up.
28 October 2011
It is the time of the year when you never wear the correct clothes. It's either you're too hot in a jacket or too cold in a shirt. The weather had been fantastic lately (until the disastrous storm in The Cinque Terre area) and the sun had been shining the strongest on weekends. It is autumn and some people are already bundled up like Eskimos and some are still prancing around in their tropical island attire. I secretly think that the ones bundled in heavy clothes have already switched their wardrobes from summer to winter while the ones with the light garb have yet to do this arduous work. I already did mine. It's my least favorite part of the changing seasons.
24 October 2011
Vegetables cooked in a saucepan is the literal translation of verdure in padella. I was asked to post more Italian vegetable dishes so here is an example of a very simple and classic cooked vegetables. The vegetables vary according to season and of course, whatever you have available in the kitchen. No rules, really. Just dump those beautiful, fresh veggies you have and cook away.
22 October 2011
Like what I said, anything touched with vinegar is delicious to me. And I am presently in a vinegary food binge. I recently cooked the salt & vinegar potato chips and it fixed my craving (for now) for those very good French potato chips. Then came the avocado, tomato & spring onion salad which was so good with the grilled salmon that I bought some more avocado and salmon soon after for an encore.
21 October 2011
I was in the kitchen alternating between grilling the shrimps and cooking the tamarind sauce when I saw my blog's traffic viewing counter turn 100,000. I had been watching it go up the whole morning. As apprehensive as I was, I had been trying to do all things together to keep my mind off the numbers for a while. Just seeing so many 9s already gave me an odd sensation of disbelief. Then when I saw the magical number, it gave me a sense of completion. I was more than happy. It's like time stopped when I was staring at the screen. Jubilance can give strange reactions sometimes. You see, it is not just a number to me. I see it as a number of times I have opened my kitchen to anyone who knocked, looked in and checked what I was cooking. One hundred thousand times, I opened my door to you and during those times you bid me goodbye and you came back over and over again. Thank you for holding that interest and visiting my kitchen.
18 October 2011
I am the last person on earth who would buy anything heart-shaped, and even red for that matter. I am not a Valentine nemesis. I am just not into them. I might consider pastel colored hearts made of wood. A country-style look is always irresistibly cute. So, I surprised myself when I grabbed this red heart-shaped bowl from the shop. I didn't even think twice about buying it. I think I am getting old. All my life I have turned my back on red hearts and now reaching my 4th decade, I was to be found in a shop holding the only thing I wouldn't even think of looking at. A red heart-shaped bowl. P.S. I find it beautiful.
17 October 2011
I love anything with vinegar in it. Much to my husband's dismay, who absolutely hates the smell of vinegar, he has to live with it. He married me so he also married my vinegar side. He doesn't really like anything pungent so I can't toss back to him the Tsk! Tsk! look he sends my way when there's a whiff of anything particularly acidically strong in the kitchen.
At six o'clock on the dot, an unsure little voice came out from the dimly lit corridor. I'm awake. I can't sleep anymore. I looked outside through the window and saw that it was still pitch dark. It is Sunday morning. We were hoping to gain an hour of two of more sleep today. I cajoled my son to go back to bed but he was insistent. He was awake and he refused to go back to bed. How come he never wakes up this early when it's a school day? He watched TV at the other end of the house while he waited for his Papi to prepare his breakfast. I noticed that my husband closed the door of the kids' room so that our daughter remains undisturbed. If she wakes up too, any hope of prolonging our sleep will be gone.
14 October 2011
It took me some time to get used to this salad. I usually can't dodge it because it's always a part of the antipasto freddo (cold appetizer) platter in the restaurants. I love everything but this one. It is very good, don't get me wrong. What invokes this refusal is the sight of the chopped tentacles. I really don't find that inviting. Then it all changed when I was once served this dish without the tentacles. I was relieved and for the first time, I enjoyed it because I was spared the job of segregating. And what do you know, it was actually more than good.
11 October 2011
I had been using a considerable amount of pistachios from Bronte, Sicily lately to the point of being excessive. Just for the bread swirls of my kids, my supply of ground pistachios was almost depleted. It's a good thing my mother-in-law was in Sicily recently and replenished my dwindling supply. When I was there last month, I brought home all sorts of pistachio products from Bronte that I could find. Pesto di pistacchio, crema di pistacchio (cream), pistacchio granulato (ground) & croccantini di pistacchio (pistachio brittles). I was a traveling advertisement of the town.
10 October 2011
How many times did I write that to have vibrant natural colors in my food matters a lot? As I was preparing these skewers, I felt like summer was still here to stay. It was a desperate attempt to keep it a while longer, even if I can feel that the temperature has already dropped. The weather had been so erratic. The morning had opened up with a promise of a beautiful day but then it became windy, cold, dreary, gray and just plain ugly. We were cooped indoors.
07 October 2011
These bread swirls or pinwheel sandwiches caused a lot of excitement with the kids. There is no other kind of food that gives me pleasure in creating than the ones that are meant for the little ones. Especially when I am able to divert them away from the commercial snacks. Lately, as I had been reading the ingredients of the biscuits & snacks at the supermarkets, I noticed so much E-number additives in every product. Even the simplest biscuits contain more chemical additives than natural ones.
05 October 2011
29 September 2011
This mock-sweet salami dessert captivated the life out of me like it did to my husband as he went through his childhood. What baffles me is why it is referred to as English. I do know that it's Sicilian by origin. To a few, it's aptly referred to as salame al cioccolato (chocolate salami) but its real name is really salame inglese.
28 September 2011
Eggs and truffles. Truffles and eggs. I was emptying the refrigerator & cupboards from overlooked ingredients that needed to be cooked. Dinner was an odd mixture of leftovers. I had 4 eggs and an open miniscule bottle of preserved black truffles that was almost reaching its time limit. Being preserved, it is incomparable to the fresh ones because of its diminished distinctive taste & fragrance. For this bit of loss, I am boosting it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with white truffle essence. You can smell it as soon as you enter the kitchen.
25 September 2011
I thought nature was playing tricks on me when I first saw the unexpectedly colossal fruit dangling from our spindly-looking "apple" tree. At the beginning, I thought we had an apple tree because that's what we chose in a long line-up of fruit trees, brought home & planted in our garden. Instead, we mistakenly bought the only tree that was erroneously tagged. That was even after going through the tedious process of choosing the perfect tree. Why does that always happen? It's like when kids touch the only singular item that's potentially dangerous out of hundreds in a room.
23 September 2011
If there is something cherished that I took with me to Italy, it's this wonderful plant. Calamondin to most and calamansi to some. In the Philippines, it is called calamansi, sometimes written as kalamansi too. The juice of these small, round lemons is known to be replete with vitamin C. For that, it is often recommended when you are down with a cold, cough or flu. Coupled with honey makes it a vitamin-packed drink. It is more intense than lemons and a bit more perfumed.
22 September 2011
Locally known as taba ng talangka in the Philippines, it is translated as crab fat which is actually a misnomer because it is not made of fat but of crab roe. This shore crab roe paste is something peculiar that comes from Pampanga, a region bordered by a river which is the shore crabs' habitat. These crabs are very small and to fill up a small bottle takes a big sack of them. But nowadays, the bottles you find are rarely pure. They are already mixed with starch. I never really tasted the ones straight from the crabs themselves anyway so I wouldn't know the difference but this blogger did.
21 September 2011
I haven't completed my year yet (exactly 7 months now) in blogging so that categorizes me as a semi-newbie to this wonderful virtual world of gastronomy. Food blogging is not a walk in the park. Behind every post entails a lot of work. Cooking, food composing, photographing and the work we all like the least, cleaning up. Then there's also the writing part. And to receive an award that compensates all these is heartwarming. So from a fellow food blogger to another food blogger from two countries away, THANK YOU very much Tobias of T and Tea Cake!
19 September 2011
My family loves salmon but I can't keep on roasting them in the oven or they will lose interest and start looking for my replacement. My kids are antagonists to leftover meals. Sometimes, I can push once with some of their favorite dishes but more than that, it's a big drama on the kitchen table that puts any soap opera to shame.
I just bought a kilo of salmon and cooked it in the oven with mustard & honey just like how the kids love it. I set aside a portion with pasta on my mind for the following meal. I do have a delicious fresh salmon pasta recipe that is without a doubt, one of the best I know. It needs cream though and being a non-dairy person, I don't usually keep them at home.
16 September 2011
For two years in a row, I spent my birthday rushing in the airports, flying somewhere with two kids in tow. If you are also a parent, you would understand what it connotes. Not that my idea of celebrating my birthday is to run around the airport and keep two kids at bay while lugging around a heavy hand luggage containing anything imaginable that can entertain kids. I am not even tackling the issue of being inside the airplane. Looking at the wall clock every second is the second main event. Time stands still when you need it to go faster. I have this quintessential caricature of two battered-looking parents walking behind two frolicking children. Parenting can be severely trying but with just one little smile from the kids, well, it's a cliche' but it's true, it melts your heart.
14 September 2011
This is trial number two to the Florentine focaccia dolce con uva fragola, otherwise known as schiacciata con uva fragola. I still believe the first recipe I tried of the concord grape cake a couple of weeks ago was not a focaccia, for that I renamed it as a cake. This new recipe I found instead is the real deal and I think it's material to be shared.
12 September 2011
While at a fruit & vegetable market in Sicily, I chanced upon some fruit & vegetables I've never seen before. One of these curious produce is the round cucumber, which, according to the vendor & my husband's relatives, has a more pleasant taste compared to its cousins, the regular one we all recognize as regular cucumber and another variety I was checking out that's longer, thinner and darker. Mentally assessing my luggage, the round ones immediately gained space in my already bloating third suitcase. What is a kilo more of round gourds anyway? I made sure they are not available in Rome or I would feel so foolish to be lugging around some
vegetables fruit that can be found where I live. Uhhmm, I just found out that tomatoes & cucumbers are actually fruits but mistakenly referred to as vegetables by the majority, like me.
|Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks), a rocky cliff formed by marl, a white sedimentary rock. The name is derived from the frequent raids of the Turks & the Barbary Coast pirates.|
Sicily through the lens of my broken camera. My third trip to this region would be permanently dubbed with this title. Being an impromptu trip, we had to rush everything, including my dslr camera sitting quietly in the service center. We were able to get it at the last minute before leaving and inevitably, it failed me right in the middle of my frenzy of taking pictures of the breathtaking panorama of the Scala dei Turchi. I....was....unconsolably....shattered. There is no other word I can put to describe how devastating it is to have your camera break down right in the middle of shooting a fantastic sight. I relentlessly clicked on the camera even if I was seeing nothing and the sound it was emitting was unmistakably wrong. I just remembered someone telling me to give it up, it's broken. Dejectedly, I put it aside and avoided looking at the other point & shoot camera peeking from my bag. Using it doesn't give me the satisfaction but I can't continue with our vacation without documenting anything at all. After a little bit of tinkering with the dslr, my husband found a temporary way to make it work. To take a single picture is painstakingly long and puts my knowledge in manual photography to test - which is technically zero.