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30 November 2012

Lasagne al Ragù

From my limited knowledge in Italian cuisine when I moved here in 1999, learning how to make the proper lasagne was imperative.   It was one of the dishes I immediately tried when I first visited the country a few months prior to moving.   I liked how the pasta actually melts in your mouth and the taste of the ragù with bechamel and parmigiano reggiano was purely delectable. 

28 November 2012

Fruit & Flower Salad With Limoncello

Because it's autumn, the leaves are falling, the sky is sometimes a sad gray and the flowers are mostly gone.  Some of my plants are already preparing for winter and all my basil plants are producing their last leaves before they die.  Autumn is a long sleep of nature that continues throughout winter.  For that I cannot wait for spring, when everything wakes up again.

27 November 2012

Insalata Caprese

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can stand between a freshly made, big ball of mozzarella di bufala from Campania and an Italian man.  

26 November 2012

Canarino (Lemon & Bay Leaf Tisane) and The Town of Cibiana di Cadore, Italy

When we moved in to our house, we surrounded our house with plants and little trees to make it more homey. We have a big planter filled with three tall alloro (bay trees / bay laurel) fronting our bedroom window to give us a bit of cover from the parking area of our neighbors.  The owner of the plant shop we bought it from suggested that these evergreen plants serve as perfect divisions.  The foliage never fall off and they are always lush and very green all year round.   It was definitely the plant we were looking for.    Besides, a bay leaf or two in cooking is always needed.  I looked at him with doubt in my mind.  I was never really fond of bay leaves when I was growing up.  

23 November 2012

Persimmon and Yogurt Marsala Dessert and Villa Farnese of Caprarola, Italy

As the seasons change, the produce also change.  And there are some vegetables and fruits that I cannot wait to have again, after a whole year of waiting.   One of them is cachi/kaki (persimmons)It's one of the things that my husband and I agree on without uttering a word.  We both enjoy scooping out the sweet, soft, orange pulp.  Really, it's one of the best that autumn can give. 

22 November 2012

Crostini e Panini con Robiola, Noci, Menta e Mortadella

The very first thing I learned about the Italian language is the alphabet. Uuhhhm.  I'm lying.  It's the second thing.  I don't need to say that I learned the bad words first, like every single person learning a new language.  I sang the alphabet to help me remember it fast, remnants of the style of memorization when I was a kid.  The song is the translated version of the English alphabet so I breezed through the whole thing. I just stall at the 5 missing English letters at the Italian alphabet.  Do you know that there are only 21 letters to the Italian alphabet as opposed to the 26 letters of its English counterpart?   There are no J, K, W, X and Y 

21 November 2012

Risotto alla Crema di Scampi

For the second time, with different sets of American friends, there was a slight confusion about the word scampi when they saw it on the restaurant menu. What is scampi?  Isn't it the way shrimp are cooked using garlic butter sauce?  My husband and I explained that they are langoustines.  They are also known as Norway lobsters or Dublin Bay prawns.  To be more specific, it carries the scientific name of Nephrops norvegicus. The plural form is scampi and singular is scampo. So I guess in the Italian-American restaurants in the U.S., scampi is referred to as the method of preparation of shrimp using garlic and butter rather than the ingredient itself.  On the other hand, shrimp are gamberi in Italian.

20 November 2012

Hugo Cocktail and South Tyrol, Italy

A fragrant and refreshing cocktail in hand, relaxing and enjoying what is to come.  That is how I discovered this really delicious drink from Trentino-Alto Adige (South Tyrol/Südtirol) or better known as the part of Italy where the Dolomite Mountains are.  There were a lot of reasons to give each other a toast  for celebratory moments.  My husband and I celebrated another year together and for a milestone that Apron and Sneakers reached in Facebook.  One thousand likes and the counter is still turning.  Thank you my friends!

18 November 2012

Chicken, Spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano Balls With Sautéed Tomatoes

A day with two very active kids is already strenuous but that doesn't compare to having one meal with them.  If I am preparing a dish that's a little bit out of the ordinary, or has one of the many ingredients, a hint of a flavor or even color that both kids don't like, expect a rollercoaster ride through dinner. 

16 November 2012

Ciambellone al Cioccolato and Milk with Mint and Chocolate

A simple, classic, homemade Italian breakfast.  

That's what I decided to prepare the day after I saw Laura Ravaioli's show at Gambero Rosso where she was demonstrating how to make a ciambellone al ciocolato like how her mother used to and a glass of milk with mint syrup and chocolate.  Aside from the whole country who wouldn't say no to a breakfast like this, there is one person I wanted to prepare it for.  My other half. 

14 November 2012

Pasta Arraganata (Baked Pasta With San Marzano Tomatoes) and the Amalfi Coast

After having a blood exam one early morning, I walked into the nextdoor bar to have my breakfast.   When I walked inside, I could already hear loud female voices disagreeing about something that was being shown in the television.  For that time in the morning, I found it unnerving but my tummy was already growling and I had a pending headache so I just continued and went inside. 

12 November 2012

Panino con Fettine di Bistecca e Peperoni ( Beefsteak Slices & Pepper Sandwich)

Planning meals for a family of four with different tastes is difficult.  Adults are flexible but kids can become too choosy and can easily break into tantrums.  For this reason, our family dinners are frequently chaotic, never silent and often concluded with teary-eyed faces. Care to join us for dinner? 

08 November 2012

Castagnaccio and The Town of Tagliacozzo in Abruzzo

It was only a couple of years ago when I discovered this chestnut cake in Tuscany.  I was in front of a really long buffet table of traditional Tuscan food in San Giovanni d'Asso when this cake caught my attention.   I looked at the alarmingly growing mountain of food on my plate and I have not even reached the middle of the buffet table yet.  I was doing everything wrong.   I was the epitome of a person not knowing her manners.  I knew I should have just given up my post and picked up where I left off after I empty my plate.   Isn't that what basic buffet table etiquette says?  BUT.  Being confronted with the "task" of exploring the plethora of Tuscan food, I was excused, wasn't I? 

06 November 2012

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake and The Church of Sant' Agnese Fuori le Mura in Rome

I have been hiding this triple chocolate cheesecake in my archives for days and I just can't make it stay at the bottom of the pile anymore.  Nothing this good should be hidden for long and it's about time I shared it with you.  Thanks to Lorraine Pascale's baking and cooking talent, I am able to make some pretty impressive looking and delicious cakes.  This is her second cake recipe that I followed.  I loved every single detail about it just like the first one, the Strawberry & Mascarpone Swiss Roll

04 November 2012

Philippine Meatball Sauté With Peas & Potatoes

Growing up, it means only one thing when this dish is served on the table.  We need to stock up on food!  The freezer is empty and we need to go to the market immediately.   The ground meat is the last of the last that is extracted from the gigantic freezer in my parents' house.   Potatoes last forever so there is always a supply around, just like rice.  Sautéing staples to Philippine cooking are tomatoes, onions & garlic and my Mom's kitchen never ran out of them. The green peas are my personal addition.

01 November 2012

Torta di Uva Fragola & Ricotta (Ricotta & Concord Grape Cake)

Uva fragola (concord grapes or strawberry grapes) come and go fast, in September and sometimes they stay until October.  I baked this cake in the middle of October after chancing upon baskets of uva fragola at the farmers' market.  The producer only asked for 1 Euro for a 500 gram basket!  What a steal!  They are not as common as the regular grapes at the markets where I live but they are more common in Tuscany.