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29 August 2011

Concord Grape Cake

The uva fragola (concord grapes) commingling with the heat created an intense saccharine smell that permeated the entrance of the supermarket.  It hits you instantly as soon as you walk in.  The only natural thing to do is to look for the source of that alluring fragrance and grab yourself a share of the dark purple grapes in clear boxes.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one who fell into this little scenario.  The rack of the concord grapes was already almost empty. 

26 August 2011

Perline di Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Basil (Insalata Caprese)

Beautiful perline di mozzarella (mozzarella pearls).  I never saw them so small before.  I don't need to say that they immediately disappeared inside my basket while food shopping.  True, I have been searching the mozzarella section of every supermarket I go to the past months, looking for the mozzarella ciliegine to no avail.  They are the size of cherry tomatoes. 

24 August 2011

Farro Tomato Soup with Pancetta & Mussels

My camera is "sick" and is presently under the knowing hands of some "camera doctors" who can make it work again.  It's my son to whom I gave the responsibilty of taking it to Canon service center, guided by my husband.  Ten (LONG) days, they said.  This will be a very long wait for me.

23 August 2011

Gigli with Grapes, Zucchini & Mint

Twice in Tuscany and we went home empty-handed. We were in dire need to restock our table extra virgin olive oil as our son pointedly told us.  He and his baby sister are firm believers of pouring drizzling oil on their food before proclaiming them edible.  Extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano are staple to them. From their very first food, they have comprised the daily diet given by their pediatrician. They didn't shake off the habit anymore. Thank God, because it's something very good for them. One of my son's favorite snacks is bread drizzled with oil.  I like having bread with oil at times but not as a daily treat. Come to think of it, I don't have the right to complain because it's a miracle that a kid would actually prefer to eat something so healthy rather than those sugar and conservant loaded snacks disguised as yummy-looking goodies.

20 August 2011

Vitelotte Potato Salad with Blue Cheese, Pancetta & Tomatoes

The good news is, my wooden crate of violet potatoes is almost empty.  That means I am ending my series of violet potato recipes pretty soon.  Two more recipes lined up then I am totally done.  I will have them again this winter, when the French ones arrive.

After doing a number of dishes with these beauties, I have learned that they are not meant to be roasted in the oven.  No, absolutely not.  I grilled some salsiccie and potatoes, regular & violet, the other day. The regular potatoes came out good, as always and the big surprise was, the violet ones died along the way.  They were not edible.  They were unrecognizable.  They were awful.  What a disappointment.  I also tried potato soup that didn't do justice to these violet wonders.   The potato soup came out of mediocre quality, not bad but not great either.  Conclusively, they are perfect for making gnocchi al burro e salvia (butter & sage), and good with salads & mashed potato pancakes

19 August 2011

Mashed Vitelotte Potato & Pistachio Pancakes with Blue Cheese Sauce

Oftentimes, I find myself stuck with a substantial amount of leftover boiled potatoes.   Cooked potatoes don't really last long so I have to hasten any exploration of possibilities.   I had been hovering on the idea of doing potato pancakes.  Gosh, there are a lot of ideas online!   It's a traditional plate of Germany and other Eastern European countries.  Problem is, they are made with grated uncooked potatoes so I was already at a bad start.  I was on my own.  Leftover mashed potato pancakes can be done though as I searched on.   That's good enough for me.

18 August 2011

Palm & Smoked Salmon Layers

Here's a brief intermission from my violet potatoes before I tackle them again.  Last time I checked, smoked salmon was in the list of "edible foods" of my five-year old. When I served these, I found out that his smoked salmon days were over. He moved on to the fresh version. Talk about fickle-mindedness. Soon I will have to refer to him as the six-year old. He is already preparing to add another finger to his five finger demonstration of his age. When I do that to him when he asks how old I am, I get tired flashing both hands so many times that his eyes bulge out with a beaten expression. "Mommy, you just beat me with the age." Dear child, if you only how nice it is to still be able to count your age with your fingers without using them more than once. 

15 August 2011

Scamorza & Anchovy Crostini

I still don't understand fully well the difference between the bruschetta and the crostino.  In Rome, crostini are laden with melted soft cheese, usually mozzarella or scamorza and other ingredients on top.  The Tuscan ones, on the other hand, are commonly topped with liver pate',  vegetables, beans, eggs, etc.  They can actually be considered bruschette in Rome already.   Every region has something different to say about it so it's better not to touch that subject.   I live in Rome so I will write about what I know.

14 August 2011

Vitelotte Gnocchi al Burro e Salvia (Butter & Sage)

With the small wooden crate still almost full of vitelotte potatoes in the kitchen,  I have no choice but to keep on cooking potatoes until I exhaust every single tuber.  Maybe at the end of this week, I will be so fed up of these potatoes that my violet potato phase will be history. 

12 August 2011

Summer Vitelotte Potato Salad

If only you know how much I have looked for these potatoes for such a long time.   I was even ready to pay €30 for a couple of kilos coming from London.  Yes, I was that desperate.   Just before I clicked on that beckoning PAY button, I re-thought about it and my husband jumped in to the rescue.  He worked his wonders in looking for a vendor in Italy.   I resignedly informed him that I had been trying for months but there is no seller in this country that is mentioned on-line.   Tick-tock-tick-tock.  The PAY button is getting nervously lonely.   "Got it!"  Did I hear right?  I obnoxiously told him that he must have found the potatoes that are grown in the north of the country that are always mistaken as the vitelotte.  While saying that, I curiously peeled my eyes away from the PAY button in my computer, scared that it might hide from me.  "It is vitelotte!"  And the vendor is even a couple of hours drive away from Rome.  Then he found another one.  How can that be?  He put my months-long search to a shame.  5 minutes was all it took him!   Armed with the phone number, he was able to order 5 kilos for me for €20 and they can even deliver them to us to a vegetable shop nearby without paying for any shipping.  Still expensive for potatoes but much more acceptable than the English ones.    I immediately emptied my online shopping cart and sighed with relief.  

Grilled Pepper & Mozzarella Pasta Salad

It is one of those hot lazy days when I didn't want to confront the heat of cooking.   The only ingredient involved with fire & heat is the pasta.  For the rest, I was home free.  Of course, if you are one of those people who can tolerate heat, you can also grill the peppers yourself instead of using the bottled ones.   I am one of those flowers that wilt fast when I stay too long in the heat of the kitchen during summer.   During the long heat waves in the past summers, I literally closed down my kitchen only after learning from the other women that they had long abandoned their own kitchens.   They were looking at me strangely like I was some sort of a kitchen Mother Theresa for still continuing to cook in spite of the heat. 

10 August 2011

Passion Fruit Parfait with Moscato Wine & Vanilla

When I was acquainting myself to Italian cooking years ago, I encountered this series of Italian cookbooks Cucchiaio d'Argento (Silver Spoon), flipped through the pages, hoped, sighed, considered, sighed long and finally put it back in the shelf.  I didn't buy it.  The recipes seemed so good but too difficult for a novice like me.   It is, after all, the bible of Italian cooking.  Note taken.  I left the herculean ones to the restaurants.  

07 August 2011

Minty Green Risotto

Green vegetables in the fridge being continually ignored is unforgivable! I'm bad, I know.  I keep on procrastinating the day I will tackle the greens.  Doesn't anyone have THE lazy days like I do? My vegetable compartment was brimming with healthy ingredients and being lazy as I am, I sometimes hope (Did I just say hope?) that they are not there.  Instead I was hoping that there are some cooked food waiting for me to just reheat.  But I am never that lucky. 

06 August 2011

Mezze Penne Rigate with Tomato Chicken Sauce

One compliment for something I cooked is already enough to make me happy but to get three consecutive ones from the same person made me positively giddy.   I was brimming with confidence to confront another challenge in the kitchen.  My kitchen is the main location of a continual duel between me and the food.   I'm not always the winner there.  I sometimes go out of my reign with my tail in between my legs.  

I had no more ideas coming on what I was going to do with the shredded boiled chicken in the fridge that I used to make the chicken stock for the chicken noodle soup.   The drab looking meat staring at me didn't give me fireworks in my brain to start something for dinner.

05 August 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

It's true that when you are feeling low and fighting a temperature, you would just like someone to tuck you in bed with a hot bowl of chicken soup.   I had a fever the other day and I was obsessively wishing for a hot bowl of soup.  So as soon as I felt better, I went straight to the kitchen and concocted this simple recipe to perk me up a bit. 

03 August 2011

Pasta with Sardines (Pasta con le Sarde)

Sicily has taken over me, myself & I.  I would just like to jump on a plane and get this Sicilian craving over and done with.  This pasta is an iconic dish of Sicily that originated in Palermo that had spread all over the island then to the rest of Italy. It's like a virus!  But whether that part of Italy is just a few hundred kilometers away from its heart, no one can do it like how they do it in Palermo. Geez, just like any of Sicily's dishes anyway. That alone is the perfect reason to pack your bags and get yourself the real thing!

01 August 2011

Granita al Caffè

This has got to be the simplest & easiest dessert (breakfast in Sicily) I ever made.   All you need is three basic ingredients and you are off to enjoy one of Sicily's best.  Well, to be more exact, a copy of Sicily's granita, because nothing can really compare to the ones that you eat in the island itself.  I don't know why, the ones we get in Rome or whatever part of the country cannot come close to the real thing.

Sauteed String Beans, Tuna & Cashew

After buying "some" tuna, this is another dish I was able to come up with.  I think I exaggerated in the amount that I felt a jolt of guilt that I didn't leave enough for the others.   No, I am not a hoarder, I just get a little bit excited at times at the food shops.

It is time to refresh the menu at home.   This delicious & tasty dish has an Asian twist and is best eaten with plain white rice.    My one-year old is a white-rice junkie.   She will drop anything for a bowl of white rice drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.   Good healthy choice but it stops there.   Anything mixed with her rice gets dumped on her neighboring plate which happens to be my husband's.   She's already quite efficient with her fork that she gets to fish out anything that's not the same color or size as her rice.  This time I tricked her.  I put her string beans & tuna in the electric chopper and mixed it with her rice.  After a complaint here, there, on the wall, on the floor & heaven knows where, she finally waved the white flag and ate.