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31 July 2013

Grilled Vegetables With Mozzarella, Pine Nuts & Mint

I'm sure your barbecue grill is out waiting to be used for the next barbecue lunch. It can be too hot sometimes to turn it on but grilling goes with summer and it's one of the best things about this season. We cook outside with the slight breeze of summer and the food we eat is lighter.  

Pancetta, Brie & Gorgonzola Cheese Straws

Cheese straws are new to me until I tried making them for the first time last January with the more subdued flavor combination of Parmigiano Reggiano, sesame seeds & fleur de sel. It was a big hit! The kids kept on referring to them as grissini (bread sticks) but they are different because grissini are done with bread dough while these cheese straws are made with puff pastry. It doesn't matter.  I let them call them with whatever they want as long as they eat. And they do eat and eat until the table, chairs & floor are covered with flakes and crumbs. Sigh. That's when my vacuum cleaner becomes my best friend. 

Soybean, Tuna & Tomato Salad With Lemon

I spotted a pack of dried soybeans in the rack of beans and grains as I was getting some orzo (barley) to stock up my cupboard again.  The soybeans are imported from Canada, not local. I was curious. I never had the dried beans before, only the processed products that I am accustomed to using in my Asian dishes. Soy sauce for instance which I cannot live without.

30 July 2013

The High Plateau of Renon / Ritten in South Tyrol

Going to Renon (Italian name) / Ritten (German name) had been an idea that my husband and I got from one of our guidebooks of South Tyrol. It was the only one that was dedicated to children, what activities they can do (and the parents should do too, of course!), where to go, what walks are safe and a whole lot of other helpful information. In other words, what fun things the kids can do in the alps while the parents organize and follow suit. Ritten was one great idea that we followed by heart and became an enchanting discovery for my lens.

28 July 2013

Elderflower Granita With Raspberries & Mint

Four tall bottles of elderflower syrup, two short bottles with the homemade version and the excitement in using them all up in new recipes I have formulating in my mind. The sciroppo di fiori di sambuco (elderflower syrup) finally settled in our kitchen as the whole family fell in love with it while we were in South Tyrol.

26 July 2013

Mango Ice Candy: Philippine Ice Pop

Summers in my childhood would not pass without an ice candy in hand, one after the other, until my mouth freezes and speaking becomes a task with numb lips. An ice candy is a simple mixture of fruits or chocolates with water, sugar and sometimes milk. The ice candies in our house never had milk because of my aversion to it so adding milk is really a preference. The important thing is that you enjoy the flavor and what you put in it. My favorite flavors were mango and coconut using fresh coconut juice & pulp straight from our trees. I was also guilty of making some Coca Cola versions. Tsk! Tsk!

24 July 2013

Bruschetta al Pomodoro & Asparagi (Tomatoes & Asparagus)

I'm ready to turn to lighter food this time, as I have been guilty of eating way too much heavy food lately. The trips to Manila and South Tyrol started the meat-lover in me and as a result, I have a few kilos here and there, and a blaring signal that I need to slow down. Ok, the fun's over and it's time to go back to earth.

21 July 2013

Rosè & Elderflower Cocktail with Wild Strawberries

To entertain themselves during the long drive home, both my kids were playing a role-playing game pretending to be in a restaurant. One orders what he/she wants and the other one takes the order.  I was hearing the usual drinks like water, Coca-Cola, aranciata (orange soda), thè (tea), chinotto (chinotto soda) and limonata (lemon soda) to mark the beginning of their game and then I heard Hugo. I was laughing quietly on my seat. Hugo is a cocktail drink that originated in South Tyrol where we just spent our holiday. You can see my post from last year about it if you click here.

20 July 2013

Residence Chalet Mugun in Corvara, South Tyrol, Italy

Tucked amongst the other mountain chalets in the town of Corvara is a gem of a place where we settled during one part of our holiday. As we discovered the town and unanimously agreed that it will be our next yearly summer mountain place, what actually sealed our decision was the residence hotel we were staying in, Residence Chalet Mugun.

Nella città di Corvara, nascosto tra gli altri chalet di montagna, abbiamo trovato questo residence che considero un gioiello e dove abbiamo alloggiato per una parte della nostra vacanza. La scoperta di questa cittadina di montagna ci ha convinto all'unanimità che d'ora in poi sarà la nostra meta annuale per le  vacanze estive.  Il merito di questa decisione è in buona parte del residence dove abbiamo pernottato, Residence Chalet Mugun.

The Town of Corvara in South Tyrol, Italy

It's that time of the year again. Summer struck and my husband and I asked the same question to ourselves like every single year for the past thirteen years. Mountain or sea? We know fully well the answer to that question and we also know perfectly well that we will not go through a summer without going to the Dolomites. It's a therapy for us to see the spectacular Italian alps, to breathe the cool, fresh air, to get tired from hiking, to set the kids free in the innumerable playgrounds and well, to relax. That's what vacation stands for, doesn't it?

18 July 2013

Mozzarella, Peppers & Asparagus Summer Salad

I have a rule in composing my plates. I like putting more NATURAL colors as much as I can to make it more festive to the eyes and to our bodies too. This salad epitomizes what health food is all about without sacrificing the taste.

Strawberry Clafoutis

Clafoutis (or clafouti in some English-speaking countries), as my friend was explaining to me in her kitchen in Southern France last year, is a custard-like classic French dessert made with unpitted black cherries.  She had planned a week's menu of classic French dishes, both savory & sweet, down to the correct wines to go with them with the help of her husband. It had been a remarkable food & wine education in their house.

17 July 2013

Summer Pasta Salad With Zucchini & Mint

When my son smothers me with thank you's for a pasta dish with vegetables, I often want to pinch myself if I was dreaming or not. Kids usually run away from the mere mention of anything green on their plates. He loves some unusual veggies that will make you raise an eyebrow with surprise. One of these green things is zucchini. Sautèed zucchini in his pasta is, without a doubt, one of the best for his 7-year old palate.

16 July 2013

Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Grilled Zucchini & Mozzarella Salad

I have been traveling a lot lately and as we all know, it entails packing, unpacking, washing, ironing, dealing with cranky kids and the list goes on.  It's a One Woman Show! And I do it for four people and two animals (without the washing & ironing!).  Yup, we are one big family and we are all finally home together once again.

14 July 2013

Yogurt With Raspberry Preserve, Berries & Elderflower Syrup

How many times these past days have I held my breath whenever my draw the curtains and see a spectacular sunny alpine view? When you stare at it, it seems like nothing matters except your connection with the simplicity of nature. And you say to yourself, Hey! This is what life is all about! I often dream about living in a little town at the Dolomites and envy the people who live there. Ok, that happens every single summer that my husband and I are here. Our kids love the mountains, the food is great and the air is so pure. It's a struggle to pack ourselves in the car and turn back to the city.  Does it happen to you too?

11 July 2013

Baked Speck-Wrapped Endives With Parmigiano Reggiano

I often look everywhere BUT the endives at the markets.  They look so fresh and so good to eat that I sometimes believe that I actually love eating them until I take the first bite.  Ahem.  Did I forget for the umpteenth time that I find them bitter?  My husband likes them plainly grilled then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt so that is how I cook them.  Quick, simple and oh so healthy! 

09 July 2013

Chilled Strawberry Soup

This dessert soup is one of the simplest bowl of refreshing goodness to conclude a meal.  Now that we are in the midst of summer, something refreshingly sweet is what we are all looking for. Gelato is the ever-popular choice especially on Italian tables but having a serving of chilled soup made entirely of strawberries then spiked with amaretto liqueur is a delicious alternative. It's a very simple recipe without anything else except 100% fruit and sugar but what makes it special is serving it at the right temperature to enjoy it. Not frozen but very cold.  You have to try it! 

07 July 2013

Frappè al Cappuccino

I have a confession.  I don't drink cappuccino and I don't think I ever will.  It's because the milk bothers me.  Big time.  I tried using almond milk here but I thought it shouldn't have tasted like how it did.  It tasted weird and I didn't like it.  It's not that I know how cappuccino really tastes like because I don't drink it much less try it.  So I turned to my main food tester, hubby.  Now he is not a big lover of almond milk, rice milk, oat milk or whatever kind of non-dairy milk I take home, so when he forced himself to try it, he gave me a face.  Nope.  Almond milk did not work this time.  I knew that sooner or later my dairy milk substitute and savior will not work in a recipe.  

06 July 2013

Foil-Baked Potatoes With Salmon, Ricotta & Wild Fennel

Do I always say yum to every recipe I create?  Because this one is.  I sound like a salesman with a sales pitch like a broken record.  Love it, try it.  Love it, try it.  The three main players in this recipe will win you, I am sure, just like it did with me.  Putting together the smoked salmon and baked potatoes seemed just natural but when I started to whisk the ricotta creamed with chives, wild fennel, poppy seeds and lemon zest, I was caught off guard about how wonderful the combination came out. 

04 July 2013

Pancetta-Wrapped Chicken Rolls Stuffed With Provolone & Sage with Marsala Sauce

Do you sometimes drool at the sound of the name of the food?  You start imagining how the ingredients are intertwined together in a blending of maximum flavors.  MMMM. That was how I created this in my kitchen.  I had a pack of chicken fillet waiting to be cooked and a bottle of Marsala wine out on the kitchen counter that I just used for another dish.  Chicken with Marsala is one of my favorite combinations, not to mention my son's too. Like this Lemony Chicken Marsala that is still his "super" favorite and for others too because it's one of my most popular recipes.  

02 July 2013

I Ate My Way Around Manila, Philippines

If there is a cuisine that I know very well, it is the Philippine cuisine.  I was nourished with it the first 20-something years of my life.  It is a peculiar Asian kitchen because it has different cultural influences. The Spanish have left a deep imprint on the food and of course the Chinese side will never be lost in the Philippine plates.  Then there are also the Malay influences and most recent among these cuisines, the American influence.  

01 July 2013

Strawberry Tiramisù

Tiramisù actually means pull me up.  For that reason, the real tiramisù has all the ingredients to shoo away the sleepy cobwebs in you and wake you up with the coffee in it.  I love the classic tiramisù (Yes, that is my recipe in that link!).  Who doesn't?   

Cold Pasta Salad With Asparagus, Feta, Blueberries & Basil

Versatility is one of the main things that makes pasta dishes a frequent meal in most homes.  Being in Italy, I cannot really say that because my husband and kids will not let me out of the kitchen if I don't cook them a plate of pasta as frequently as they want.  It's in the genes and it's impossible to go through the days without any pasta in their systems.  So what does that tell me?  Create as much pasta dishes using old and new recipes.  Now that we are in summer, I whip up the cold versions more than the hot ones.