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28 July 2014

Risotto with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Toasted Zucchini

There are a few times when my family gets separated for important stuff or sometimes even on vacations. It's quite normal for me to pack bags for each member of the family and line them up at the entrance of our house the night before separating. That also includes pets of whatever kind. Last year, they were pet hamsters going to my husband's colleague's house while my kids went to their grandmother and my husband and I flew to Manila for some important stuff. It was one busy morning of saying goodbyes and running around.

Warm Barley, Chickpea and Tomato Salad with Grilled Chicken

Putting pearl barley in our regular diet at home has been my aim lately. It's rich in fibers which is important for us, especially for the kids. They do get fibers from the bowls of cornflakes that they keep munching on throughout the day. I say munch because they eat them like chips. Dry, no milk, no yogurt. It's strange I know. I eat cornflakes exactly the same way they do. I know that I am not guilty of teaching them the improper way to eat them. Oh well, like mother, like kids.

26 July 2014

Fish and Artichokes with White Wine

When I am at the fish shop and the place is empty, I always use that opportunity to question the fishmonger. How to keep the clams a day before cooking, what kind of fish is best for a certain type of cooking, do I keep the scales or not, or to give me advice on how to cook new kinds of seafood that I would like to try. The other day, I got some orata or gilt-head bream. There were no sole for the kids and gilt-head bream is my usual second choice to buy. I got 3 medium ones for dinner.

25 July 2014

Quick Fish with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Sage

We all have recipes that we instantly think of when we have three minutes to think of what to cook for dinner. When I am at the seafood section of the supermarket, I usually get some sole or plaice. The children love them simply covered with breadcrumbs, Mediterranean style or this dish where I cook them with chickpeas and tomatoes. It's an instant hit with my picky-eating kids.

24 July 2014

Mini Puff Pastry Tarts with Asparagus, Pancetta and Cream of Parmesan

Italian courses are a lot and it took me about a couple of years to go through all the courses with success, meaning eating everything served to me from the first course to the last one. I used to give up after the pasta because not only are the courses a lot, the servings are also abundant. There's antipasto (appetizer), pasta or risotto (the first course), secondo (second/main course) with contorno (side dish), sometimes frutta (fruit) then lastly, the dolce (dessert). At times, each course even has more than one dish.

21 July 2014

3 Fresh Fruit Summer Cocktails

The temperature is soaring! When I step out of the house and feel myself melting rapidly in the heat, I feel like escaping indoors and not go out anymore until summer finishes. Not unless I am dressed to combat the heat with just a bathing suit on me and lukewarm water waiting for me to dip in. And of course, a nice cold fruity cold alcoholic cocktail to keep me cool. Then I'll stay outdoors willingly.

20 July 2014

Asian-Style Garlicky Spicy Sautèed Shrimp

I was speaking with someone once about how the simplest recipes can be better than their complex counterparts at times. I like both simple and complex methods of cooking but I usually leave the complex ones to the good chefs who can wow me with their creations. This makes dining out a good reason to try out innovative dishes. But most of the time, I look for simple dishes with minimal ingredients. I like it when I identify the ingredients used in the dishes and that is one reason that prods me to cook at home. I like to keep my cooking simple.

19 July 2014

La Francesca Resort in Bonassola, Liguria (Italian Riviera)

Just after the Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare), the rocky and hilly coastline continues on to Levanto then to Bonassola where La Francesca Resort is set amidst the Parco Naturale del Bracco-Mesco, a protected natural woods of Mediterannean maquis and pines. La Francesca covers 15 hectares of land facing the Ligurian Sea and is in the middle of Levanto and Bonassola connected by a 4 km. foot and tunnel path that used to be an old railroad connection between the two towns.

14 July 2014

Risotto with Leeks and Fennel

It may not sound as good as it is in reality, but this risotto has a wonderful combination of subtle flavors of leeks, fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano. It's not the kind that impresses you with explosive tastes at the first taste. It's the kind that impresses you with its lovely flavors as you go from the first to the next ones. It's not highfalutin and complex. It's simple and it's comforting. And it's something that I would like to have at home with my family because it's healthy.

French Fries alla Carbonara (Pecorino and Pancetta French Fries)

When I thought of making these fries, I was amused at the idea. At the same time, I was also excited to try making them. I was quite sure that they will come out very tasty because of the Pecorino and crunchy pancetta. They really tasted great! Baked or fried? I would always choose baked over fried so off they went to the oven until they reached the perfect crunch that I was looking for. I will make these over and over again if I can if only pancetta (or bacon) is healthier. But for the meantime, make a batch and tell me what you think.

13 July 2014

Chocolate Salami

When we take the food from our childhood to adulthood, it has a special attachment to us that brings back beautiful memories with every bite we make. Then if that food goes through another generation who are our kids, it becomes much more special. This chocolate salami was my husband's favorite when he was young. It came from his grandmother to his mother, and now to our kids.

11 July 2014

Baked Polenta-Crusted Chicken Thighs

The kids are becoming harder and harder to please lately with their food. There's a redundancy of dishes that I myself cannot stand. They do eat fish (but only two kinds), always cooked the same way, pasta dishes that I can count with my fingers, veal and well, chicken. I eat chicken but not as much as my kids who prefer it the most among its other meat counterparts.

07 July 2014

Baked Potatoes with Clementine Butter

I've got about six hours more of road time before I arrive in South Tyrol with my family, see the spectacular Dolomite mountains and inhale fresh mountain air. I can't wait. I've been ironing mountains and packing like crazy to get ready for this holiday with my family. And like any pause I make from making recipes, I worked double time the past weeks to clear up my schedule. Now I have a clean timetable to enjoy!

30-Minute Teriyaki Beef Rolls with Green Beans

Presenting Asian meals at home is something important to me because my kids are more biased to Italian cooking. Being divided into two cultures and living in Italy, it's natural that they choose what they are surrounded with. I really don't blame them because Italian cuisine is really very good. BUT, having a grip of their other heritage is also a must to familiarize themselves with.

06 July 2014

Asian Meal: Fried Whole Fish, Adobo Water Spinach and Steamed Rice

There are times when the craving for Asian food is stronger than me. I give in. I always do anyway. Moving away from where I grew up makes the craving even more insistent  because it's one of the remaining strong hooks I have from my past. Life can take me thousands of miles away but Philippine food will remain rooted inside me and I will take it with me everywhere I go. Every single dish has a memory to speak of and when I cook certain dishes, I don't see it as just food but something that's more special because it's a part of me.

05 July 2014

Pasta with Wild Arugula & Tomatoes


The other day, my 8-year old son came running to me shouting with excitement with his little sister piping his enthusiasm behind him, all sweaty and smelling of the outside sweltering world. He seemed like he had something valuable cupped in one of his fists. He handed me a small piece of green, crumpled thing and asked me to smell it. I usually cringe at the thought of being asked to smell something unidentifiable in the hands of my kids so I was reluctant to follow his request. I was able to calm them down enough to stare at what he was holding out to me and ask him what it was. It did look like a crumpled leaf and it smelled very familiar.

03 July 2014

Homemade Limoncello

When I was in Sorrento, along the Amalfi Coast, I saw a production of limoncello and a whole range of lemon products. The vibrancy of yellow things left and right was a spectacle! When I was a kid, my favorite color was yellow. I even had my room wallpapered in yellow gingham and if I could, I would have furnished it in the same color too. But I chose purple and green to make the eyes rest from the colors. Now that years have passed, I still think my favorite color is yellow even if I almost don't have anything in that color anymore.

02 July 2014

Ristorante L'Orto Stiloso in Albachiara, Fregene: A Quaint Restaurant at the Beach Outside Rome

It's summer! Once again, the days are longer and the heat is up. Since the kids are out of school, there's no better way to spend the idle days than to head to the beach. We live at the outskirt of Rome, along the Tyrrhenian coastline, so the beaches are very accessible to us. But  like the usual case, we don't go to the ones that are closest to us (straight ahead!) but we turn either left or right towards better beaches at 15 to 30 minutes both ways.

E' finalmente estate! Le giornate sono più lunghe e fa decisamente caldo. Dal momento che i bambini non vanno a scuola, non c,è modo migliore per trascorrere queste belle giornate che andare in spiagga. Viviamo alla periferia di Roma, lungo la costa tirrenica, quindi il mare è a pochi minuti da casa. Ma come al solito, non andiamo nelle spiagge più vicine a noi (da casa riusciamo quasi a vedere il mare!) ma saltiamo in macchina e con 15 - 30 minuti a sud o a nord troviamo spiagge migliori.