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31 January 2013

Mini Ham Sandwiches With Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

It all started in the south of France when I started to take a serious commitment to spreading tapenade on my baguette and drink kir as the sun sets in front of me every afternoon in my friend's garden in an old hilltop town overlooking Grasse.  It was summer, I was on holiday with my 2-year old daughter and I was relaxing with my friend of more than 30 years.  Imagine that.  Still together after all these years. 

26 January 2013

Almond Blueberry Pancakes With Godet Chocolate Ganache

One thing that sends me off to a good night's sleep with a smile pasted on my face (I can just imagine!) is imagining what I will be having for breakfast.  Or on a more realistic fact, what I will be working on in the kitchen first thing in the morning.  You know, measuring, mixing, washing and cleaning up which is a part of cooking that is my least favorite but I cannot shake off. 

23 January 2013

Arroz Caldo (Philippine Chicken Congee)

When my calamansi plants yield their fruit, my kitchen starts to smell like the Philippines.  Most of the time, all of them fruit at the same time and that's when kitchen trouble starts.  With kilos of calamansi confronting me and requiring immediate attention and getting little help from my husband and kids who are picky about their Asian food, I prepare my son's favorite drink, calamansi juice with mint and cook all kinds of food that use calamansi.  One of the dishes I prepare is arroz caldo and drown it with calamansi and colatura di alici (Italian fish sauce from the Amalfi Coast equivalent to the Asian fish sauce).   I love it when both sourness and saltiness fight for dominance in the food.  I cook for 4 and I eat for 4.  And I don't eat arroz caldo again until the following year or, until I get another craving when the calamansi plants give me again another round of fruit.

21 January 2013

Chocolate and Nutella Coffee Spoons and a Little About San Gimignano

The first time I encountered chocolate spoons to stir my coffee was around 2000 when I was in San Gimignano, Tuscany. There was this out-of-the way small restaurant away from the main hub of the town. My husband and I were hungry and desperate for a restaurant but all the places were completely full and had no hopes of being empty until dinnertime. 

17 January 2013

Buccellati (Sicilian Christmas Biscuits)

Every Christmas, we are full of these Sicilian biscuits along with other sweets of different shapes and flavors.  They are all made by my husband's mother and aunts and distributed to the whole family and friends.  We indulge in them once a year.  They are good and these buccellati filled with dried figs mixed with mosto cotto (cooked grape must), as they call in Palermo, are my favorite. 

16 January 2013

Pasta con Lenticchie e Cavolo Nero (Pasta with Lentils and Tuscan Cabbage / Kale)

Lenticchie (lentils) are traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve because there's an Italian belief that these round beans give good fortune and prosperity.  After eating innumerable bowls of lentils during the festivities (yes, I am a big dreamer!), I couldn't believe my ears.  A little voice was still prodding me to cook pasta con lenticchie (pasta with lentils)More?  Son, didn't we have enough these past days?

14 January 2013

Ricotta & Mascarpone Cheesecake with Frutti di Bosco (Berries)

My son's recent "crostata (Italian tart filled with jam) or nothing" phase made me stock up on these tarts at home. During the hype of his phase, he could easily finish one whole crostata (about 22 cm.) on his own between 1 - 2 days.  However, we don't share the same opinion about them.  I never liked them because they are always too sweet.   I know I should start making them but before I could find the perfect not-too-sweet cherry jam that I want to use, his crostata phase popped like a balloon and he refuses to touch any crostata.  Just like that.

13 January 2013

Cheese Straws with Parmigiano Reggiano, Sesame Seeds & Fleur de Sel

If there are grissini (breadsticks), there should be my kids' mouths at the ends of the sticks munching on them continuously. Once they start eating one, they cannot stop themselves from eating more.  It seems therapeutic because they tend to munch, shut up and stare at the space.  It's quiet time gained at the restaurant table while waiting for the food, all throughout the appetizer and until the pasta arrives when the waiter takes away the bread basket. 

11 January 2013

Polenta con Formaggio Fuso e Funghi (Polenta with Melted Cheese & Mushrooms) and the Dolomites

Thinking of the Dolomites. Thinking of the mountains. Thinking of the fresh air.  Thinking of summer.  Thinking of the walks we do.  Thinking of the trails in the middle of trees and meadows or beside cliffs.  And most importantly, thinking of the food.

As a foodie, I cannot NOT arrive to the gastronomy. When I think of a place, I think of the sights and the food waiting for me to explore, examine and love or abandon.   

10 January 2013

Pear and Warm Caramelized Grape Salad with Gorgonzola Sauce and Caserta, Italy

I love every single ingredient in this salad down to the balsamic vinegar and to the grapeseed oil.  Maybe for that I keep on making it when I need something not so basic but a little bit more elaborate than usual.  I am the kind of person who would gobble up anything touched with gorgonzola or any other kind of blue cheese. 

08 January 2013

Crostini di Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Cabbage or Kale Crostini)

It's becoming a family habit to go to the farmer's market on most weekends.  The quality of all the food we had been buying there are genuinely good, biological and produced around the area.  Exactly the qualities we are looking for.  The whole market has a strong amicable spirit and everyone seems to make time to speak with the buyers.  I always walk out of that market one notch smarter than when I walked in.  

The last time we were there, my kids were treated with white pizza, salame, cheese, biscuits and fruit while we were going around shopping.  Every vendor had something to give and they had these determined looks that they will be stuffing the kids with good food.  I think if they can drink wine, they would be given a glass each too. 

07 January 2013

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Triple Chocolate Ice Cream and Mixed Berry Sauce

I had this for breakfast today that's why I am smiling but feeling very guilty.  I think you would too if you had it.  Well, it is the last day of the holiday season.  We just concluded the Befana (Epiphany) celebration today and tomorrow, we all go back to our regular activities.  What better way is there to end a wonderful holiday season holiday than to assemble this tower of calories and goodness first thing in the morning?  SMILE

04 January 2013

Vegetable Purée Cubes

I have a love and hate relationship with Lego blocks.  If I am undisturbed, I can sit down contentedly for hours and build houses or cities and come out totally relaxed from the almost immobile activity.  There are also times when I would make a quick trip to the toy store just to buy a box of Lego to assemble.  When I hand the finished product to my kids, I know that it will last for only an hour before it disintegrates and end up in the big box of other Lego blocks. 

Sausages in Rosemary and Tomato Sauce with Grilled Polenta

This is my 407th post.  God, that's a lot.  I can't believe how much work I have input in this blog.  It's only turning TWO this February 1st but it already feels like a lifetime of cooking, photographing and writing.  Sometimes I worry about running out of words to write or willpower to do everything.  With all these 407 posts, I had my share of staring at the computer screen for hours that sometimes stretched on for days.  It happens.  Mental block because of lack of sleep.  For almost two years now, I always remind myself to sleep before 2 in the morning.  I can't because my words come tumbling out after midnight.  I'm not really the Cinderella type.  And most of the time, I worry most that I am boring the hell out of you. Just give me a nudge and I'll get your point.

02 January 2013

Beef Stew in Chorizo and Red Wine Sauce with Polenta

There is only one thing that comes to mind when I encounter a beef recipe cooked in red wine. My first futile attempt (and I swore never again!) to cooking something  gourmetish when I was an adolescent.  Red wine or anything alcoholic is not something common to Philippine cooking, so when I found a recipe using wine and my interest held on for days, I bugged my Mom that I wanted to cook dinner and the perfect occasion arrived when my Dad, who was a pilot, called to say that he was coming home after a few months of flying away from home.

01 January 2013

Linguine all' Astice (Lobster Linguine)

There are a lot of pasta dishes that wow me.  I like this, I like that and I like the other one I had in a restaurant the other day.  But what really stops my world is a good plate of linguine all' astice (lobster linguine).  So when a restaurant has it in their menu, I don't have eyes for anything else.  I will be eating this one.