30 November 2011
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
While going through the cupboards, I realized that I haven't touched any of the legumes that I had been continuously buying the past months. With the different kinds that I have accumulated, you would think that I have a show and tell project going on.
I started with the lentils of Abruzzo. The good ones come from that area and the best being the lentils of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. They are smaller & darker, having a higher iron content than the rest of its counterpart. And they are tastier too. I mixed what remained of my stock from our last trip from Santo Stefano di Sessanio and I opened a new pack from the same region. Here, you will find another recipe I did with lentils cooked with red mullet plus some pictures of Santo Stefano di Sessanio.
25 November 2011
When I have an Italian food overload, I crave for Asian food. I can only count with my fingers what Asian food are palatable for my kids and husband. This one is one of them. Believe it or not, true to his strange tastes, Riccardo is one of the very few kids I know who loves broccoli (and cauliflower and broccoli rabe). I only succumbed to these green florets when I was over 21. After all, broccoli and kids never went well together. Fortunately, my son's choice of vegetables is far healthier than mine when I was his age.
21 November 2011
What's good about the crostini is that you can put whatever topping you want and create a whole range of appetizers. Since the combination of sausages (salsicce) and broccoli rabe (or broccoletti, as they call it in Rome) is a favorite at home, these crostini always disappear fast from our table.
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 Riccardo'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.
Being autumn & Halloween, there was an avalanche of squashes everywhere. Plastic, paper, the fruit itself, wood, you name it, we have it. So while my kids were busying themselves in making more pumpkin cutouts and coloring everything orange, I was in the kitchen cooking the last of our stash of squash for autumn. Here is a hearty squash soup with the wonderful blending of nutmeg, cream & squash. It's comfortingly good. You can use either chicken or vegetable broth to extend the soup. I chose the latter because I wanted the taste to remain strictly on the veggie side.
Halloween is new to Italy. The holiday has experienced a fast immersion to the new generation over the years. Twelve years ago, I still remember the void of not seeing anything Halloween-like anywhere. It was rather sad because this was one of my favorite holidays when I was younger. How chaotic & fun those nights can get when kids in every inconceivable costume go around trick-or-treating. We just took Riccardo and Sofia to a Halloween costume party and the changes between then and now surprised me. The only thing lacking is treat-or-tricking. From a parent's point of view, it's better this way.
There is an ancient Italian holiday very similar to Halloween. It's called Befana. According to an Italian folkore, Befana is an old woman who looks like a witch and who goes around in her broom to distribute candies, toys or coals to children on Epiphany Eve (the night of 5 January). Colorful stockings are filled up with toys & candies if they have been good or coals if they have been bad. Believe it or not, some did receive real coals when they were young. Nowadays, there are candies resembling coals so there won't be hard feelings when you receive them. The more adults there are in the family & circle of friends, the more filled-up stockings the kids can amass. I have never seen so much candies a kid can receive in one day. No Halloween loot can compare to a Befana loot.
- 500 g. pumpkin, diced
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 150 ml. cream
- salt & pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 liter vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Saute' onion in an ample-sized saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.
- When the onion turns translucent, add the diced pumpkin. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium fire, moving continuously.
- Add vegetable broth, cover & cook for about 20 minutes with low fire. Season with salt & pepper. Add nutmeg.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
- Add cream. Cook 10 minutes more. Add thyme leaves before turning off fire.
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.
Sometimes, I do grab some junk food too that I keep for emergency cases and I give myself the privilege of being a couch potato in front of the TV even for a few minutes on one of the rare moments when the kids are not around.
There are three variations that I usually prepare. The crostini are still my favorite but sometimes a big plate of the salad version can be an easier option. The rolls look more presentable when served as an appetizer to guests.
At home, in the silence of just a couple out of twenty shrieking and running kids left, my husband and I ate our crostini without uttering any word. It's useless, our eardrums were still resonating the 100 decibels from the party.
Avocado, Salmon & Egg Crostini
- 1 avocado, peeled, stoned & diced
- 100 g. smoked salmon, sliced into strips
- 2 eggs
- 50 ml. milk
- chives, chopped finely (optional)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- 4 slices of bread
- Toast bread slices on a stovetop griddle or in a toaster.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs with a pinch of salt, milk & chives.
- Prepare a saucepan with little extra virgin olive oil. When it's hot, pour egg mixture. Cook. Turn off fire when it's still a bit runny & undercooked. It will keep on cooking even if the fire is already off.
- Put the scrambled eggs on top of the bread. Put some diced avocado. Put a slice or two of salmon. Squeeze some lemon juice on top of the salmon. Sprinkle with chopped chives.