Tag Archives: food

4th of July Party? How about a tasty recipe for marinated olives and feta?

Marinated Olives and Feta

Sophisticated but incredibly easy: smash some olives, crush a bit of garlic, shred some bread, and you’re good to go!

Want to bring something different to your 4th of July party that DOESN’T need refrigeration or special care? A while back, I found something genuinely fabulous in my favorite place to find fabulous things – Bon Appétit Magazine. It’s a perfect recipe for things like 4th of July parties where light, savory snacks with friends really hit the spot.

There’s only one part of this recipe that needs a bit more explanation – smashing olives and crushing the garlic. I know that there are all sorts of ways to do this, but my video gives you some easy ways that work for me. The rest is that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 ounces of drained green (I prefer Castelvetranos for their flavor) unpitted olives
  • 3 medium-sized cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil – essential to get the “good stuff” for this recipe.
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 ounces of crumbly feta cheese. I use President Cheese.
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees F
  2. Rip up your bread into bite-sized pieces and place them on a baking sheet. When the oven is ready, bake the pieces of bread for 5-8 minutes, or just long enough to make the them a bit crispy and golden.
  3. Lightly smash (by pressing the side of the knife blade directly on top) the olives to just break apart the skin and flatten slightly.
  4. Smash (using the same technique as for the olives – you don’t want them completely flat!) and peel 3 cloves of garlic.
  5. Use a vegetable peeler (this will give you nice wide strips) to peel the zest from the lemon. Remember – only the yellow, not the white which will be bitter.
  6. Place lemon peel, smashed olives, crushed garlic, ½ cup of good Extra Virgin olive oil, and ½ tsp of red pepper flakes into a small saucepan over med-low heat. Swirl every so often and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the garlic is golden around the edges.
  7. Crumble feta cheese into a shallow serving bowl.
  8. Pour the olive oil mixture over the feta and let it sit at least 10 minutes. Longer if possible, perhaps an hour or more, before serving.
  9. Serve together with your crisped bread pieces.

You can always double or treble this recipe for a larger crowd.

Some last DO’s and DON’Ts – DO remind your guests that the olives are unpitted, but DON’T worry about letting this sit out for as long as your guests are nibbling. It will go fast!  A Negroni is the perfect adult beverage to accompany this appetizer.

Happy 4th of July, America!

Level up your Summer Snacks Strategy!

Summer Fruits

Kitchen Tips: Chill out and stock up on fruits and frozen blueberry “Bites”

Here comes the sun. Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. I’m a sunshine kind of person, so I welcome all of it. Especially the fun part: the joy of cooling off!

There are a lot of different ways to cool off. The first thing you’ll want to do is have plenty of water around. Just plain, every day H2O. The doctors say that we all need to drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day (think of it as the “8×8” rule). Following this rule is especially important when it’s sweltering.  But, if you’re like me and think that plain water is so very boring then be sure to keep a pitcher of water with sliced citrus or mint and cucumber in the refrigerator – it tricks me into thinking I’m drinking something special and I get my 8 glasses in!

Another trick? Keep lots of cold fruits around. I stash fresh fruit of all kinds, cleaned and cut in bowls in the refrigerator. Things like melon (canary, cantaloupe), pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, and oranges. Make sure that you buy whole fruit at the market and cut them at home yourself. Cutting your own fruit reduces the possibility of bringing a food-borne illness into your home. And besides, you KNOW how clean your cutting board is! Right?

A note on apples. Precut apples start to brown almost immediately. But, you can stop the browning by dabbing them in fresh orange or lemon juice. I prefer orange juice because it enhances the apple taste. I think lemon juice clashes a little. Once I’ve cut my apples (one-eighth slices) and dabbed them with orange juice, I’ll place them on a covered plate in the fridge ready to serve.

Frozen grapes are another great way to cool off.  Buy organic seedless grapes, clean and thoroughly dry them and then place them on a sheet tray in the freezer.  When they’re frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag.  Everyone can just reach in and grab a few anytime.

How about frozen blueberry bites – doesn’t that sound delicious? With yogurt! This one is for those of us with insatiable appetites for sweets with just a bit of tart. And the heat of the summer just brings it on even stronger. I saw this video on PureWow. It’s so easy to make. And they are so very delicious.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 pint of fresh organic blueberries

Directions

  1. Get a bowl large enough to accommodate 8 ounces of yogurt plus 1 pint of blueberries.
  2. Slowly, with a rice paddle or very large spoon, mix it up and add the lemon juice. Be very gentle – you don’t want to crush the blueberries.
  3. Use your paddle (or large spoon) to scoop out yogurt covered blueberries, one at a time, and set them out onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. You can also use wax paper or plastic wrap.
  4. Place the sheet tray with coated blueberries into your freezer for about 2 hours.
  5. Serve!

And now you know the best way to keep those summer snacks coming!

Fresh Eggs!

Egg test

An easy test to make sure that your eggs are fresh and safe to eat.

Eggs are a staple – fried or poached for breakfast, boiled for salads, brilliant as an omelet for a late supper or as an important ingredient in all sorts of recipes. You really don’t want to run out of them.

As we all know, eggs won’t last forever, even in a good refrigerator. Pay attention to those “sell by” dates and rotate eggs (as you would milk) making sure that you use the oldest stock first. But, does that mean you have to be a “date hound” for those expiration or “use by” dates? Short answer is “no.” A friend of mine complained a few days ago that his wife literally pounces on any eggs that remain in a carton after the expiration date – bam, into the trash. Completely unnecessary and overly cautious.

The fact is, assuming they are in constant refrigeration, raw eggs are usually safe for about three weeks after the “sell by” date has passed.

Look it up on Google, and you’ll see that this is a pretty common factoid.

But you still need to be careful – a bad egg is a terrible thing to crack open in your kitchen (it’s a smell that you never forget).

The first test is a visual inspection of the egg. Look for cracks or discoloration of the shell. The egg may even start to give off a certain odor – stronger than normal egg-smell. These are all nature’s signs that you really need to part with that egg.

Still not sure? Here’s a method I learned from my mom. Get a tall pitcher or other container and fill it half-way with cold water. Carefully place each egg into the water. If the egg drops to the bottom of the container – it’s good to eat.  If it lays on its side it’s even more fresh than if it stands on one end on the bottom but either way – they’re both good to eat.

If it floats – the egg is well past its prime. This is the clearest sign that you have a problem. Why does it float? Newly laid eggs have either no air cell or a very small one.  As they begin to cool (just laid eggs are about 105 degrees F!) the contents of the egg contract more than the shell so the inner membrane separates from the hard shell and forms the air cell.  As the egg ages moisture escapes through the shell and air replaces it so the air cell becomes larger.  The bigger the air cell, the more it floats.  So, if your egg is floating on the surface the air cell is big enough to make it buoyant.  Throw the egg away, you definitely don’t want to eat it.

Cool little trick, isn’t it?

Champagne Is NOT Just for Holidays

photo-anthony-delanoix_champagne-1b

Spread the cheer any day – Schramsberg Cremant Demi-Sec

New Year’s has come and gone. Time to pack up the champagne glasses for another year (or the next wedding)? Are you kidding me? I hope you are!

The party’s only just started!  What better way to celebrate all of those relationships you’ve gathered around the table than with a glass of bubbles.

A Schramsberg wine master explains the process of making sparkling wines during a session of Camp Schramsberg in the wine caves.

The fact is, sparkling wine or champagne can be enjoyed at ANY meal with ANY food even a big steak. You just have to have the right bottle! One that stands out for me is Schramsberg’s Crémant Demi-Sec.

First you need to know that only wines that come from the Champagne region of France can legally be called “champagne.” Schramsberg is from the Calistoga area of Napa Valley and the owners of Schramsberg Vineyard use the Methôde Champenoise (translation: the champagne method used in France) to create all of their sparkling wines.

Schramsberg has been producing their award winning sparkling wines since 1965 and has been honored to serve them in every White House administration since Richard Nixon. One of the really cool things about Schramsberg is that they offer a unique experience to learn all about their wines.

One of the perks of owning a restaurant is that you get invited to participate in some very special events. Camp Schramsberg is one of those that I’ll never forget. I had no clue it even existed. It’s a three-day experience they have twice a year (once in the Spring for “bud” or when the grapes are just beginning to grow and once in the Fall for harvest). Anyone can sign up for camp and attend-it is not restricted to only people in “the trade.”  When I went, almost half of the participants were just people who love wine.

What’s really fun about this experience is that they hold it in their winery caves, out in the vineyards and also at the Meadowood Napa Valley Resort.  I learned about Schramsberg’s history, of course, but also about sparkling wines in general and how they are made, was given an opportunity to learn how to properly prune the vines (it’s harder than it looks), how to saber a bottle-cut off the top of the bottle with a saber (easier than you think), eat a lot of great food and drink their amazing wines (even with steak!).  It was at camp that my real love of sparkling wines blossomed and I learned some valuable lessons.

One of them is that you should never hold back for celebrations in your life. So, don’t hold back the champagne (or the sparkling wine) for the “big days.” Every day should be a celebration, and every day is an opportunity to show your appreciation to those people who you gather around your table.

So, don’t be stingy. Pop a cork and enjoy.

A Chinese Food Memory

Chinese Dinner

It’s amazing what will trigger a Food Memory.

I was speaking with a friend the other day about family dinners and we got to talking about our food memories growing up and what we’ve done with our own families to create food memories for our kids.  Each of us grew up in completely different environments with completely different backgrounds but had experienced a commonality in what happened for both of us around the table. The whole conversation brought back a favorite food memory for me and some serious insight as to why I do what I do with my family and friends – all around the table.

When I was in middle school my parents had some very good friends from mainland China that they would socialize with on a fairly regular basis.  My parents loved Chinese food and I have a very clear memory of a beautiful set of chopsticks that these friends had given to my mother for her birthday one year.  They brought them all the way from China – this was the 60’s and travel between the US and China was almost impossible at the time – people were escaping to come to the US.

I know that they had moved permanently to the US at the time and were never going back (at least that is my memory as a teenager) so anything they brought with them was very precious.  My mother was honored and humbled to have received this very special gift from them.  She would bring them with her whenever we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.  The hard part was that they were very polished and extremely slippery so she would always have a difficult time eating dinner.  It never mattered to her – she loved them and the love and sacrifice that they represented to her friends – those dinners for her were more about using the beautiful gift than actually getting to eat a complete meal.

I also remember the one dinner (I may have been 5 or 6) when my father decided that I was old enough to learn how to properly use chopsticks.  When you go to an Asian restaurant you will usually see small children using chopsticks that are connected either using a rubber band or springing device to help them keep the pair together and allow the small children to eat by themselves.  At this particular dinner my dad decided it was time for me to switch from Western cutlery to real chopsticks!  I remember him telling me that I couldn’t use any fork or spoon (in fact he made sure there weren’t any on the table) and that if I was hungry I would learn how to coordinate the chopsticks to navigate food to my mouth….I learned quickly and to this day I can’t eat any Asian food without a pair of chopsticks – including rice and noodles!

We would go to their favorite Chinese restaurant and I can still see the “lazy susan” in the middle of the table that would be full of the many dishes my parents would order for us to eat.  There was always a lot of discussion about what was in a particular bowl.  One of us would taste it and inevitably they would say – “It’s so delicious you have to try it!”  With all of the tasting of the different flavors, the turning of the lazy susan toward whoever was trying something, the chatter about what we were eating or who got the last bite of something wonderful it was always a fun and crazy dinner.  I loved those meals with all of their silliness and laughter – not to mention the appreciation I learned for good Chinese food and of course my ability to use chopsticks properly!

I didn’t think about this food memory for years until the conversation with my friend brought it to light.  He was telling me that when his family (he’s Japanese) would have everyone over for a big meal, each person would bring something to contribute to the table – not a huge casserole or enormous bowl of salad – but a small bowl of something that they liked to eat so that everyone might have just a bite to experience the flavors in each dish.  He said that there was always so much laughter and sharing that it left lasting memories. It’s exactly how I like to eat to this day – talking, laughing, eating all with family, friends and those I love.  Each person sharing a special bite of something wonderful – around the table.

Easy Recipe for Gnocchi Skillet with Sausage and Tomatoes

Gnocchi on your Favorite Skillet

Food Memory in the Making with Gnocchi, Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes and your Favorite Skillet

This recipe is so quick and easy to make and looks beautiful on the plate – color in the dish is always important as we eat with our eyes.  It reminds me of a favorite food memory – the first time I ever tasted Gnocchi – they were so soft and delicate.  I found it on a great website, thekitchn.com, in their 23 Romantic Recipes post this week.  One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use store-bought gnocchi and any type of Italian sausage you like. Spicy, anyone? They also suggest that if you want to finish the skillet with Parmesan that you can but that it’s not necessary if you’d rather not have cheese. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 9 ounces (about 3 links) cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 ounces fresh basil, julienned (1/2 to 1 cup loosely packed)

Preparation

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling; cook the gnocchi for 2 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium heat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Push the sausage into a pile at the edge of the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
  3. When the skillet is quite hot, add the tomatoes, skin down, crowding them in if necessary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are blistered, then stir in with the sausage. Cook for 2 more minutes, until both tomatoes and sausage are slightly browned. Stir in gnocchi and cook just until all is combined, but the tomatoes have not broken down into sauce.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Cooking tip: a cast iron skillet is preferred only because it will give you the best color and sear to the sausage and tomatoes but any skillet will work as long as it does NOT have a non-stick coating.  That will interfere with the browning.

Light and Easy Recipe for Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil

Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil

This recipe for a light citrusy spaghetti from Smitten Kitchen’s post from February 24, 2011. It looks wonderful and reminds me of a pasta I loved in Florence on my last trip there – a real food memory. In fact, I loved it so much that we ate at the restaurant twice in four days! This would be perfect for a last minute dinner with friends – just add a simple salad, some crusty bread and you’re done! The very short ingredient list and very simple directions are perfect and could be paired with a light white wine – perhaps a crisp Sauvignon Blanc?

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Salt
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
  • Ground black pepper
  • Small handful fresh basil or arugula (what I used, deliciously, in a pinch) leaves, shredded

Preparation

Cook linguine or spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.

While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest.

Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat.

Return pasta to pot and stir until coated.

Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together.

Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser.

Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice (we did).

Stir in basil or arugula and season generously with salt and pepper. Then serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan cheese.

Brunch? How about a Frittata with Fontina Cheese and Mushrooms?

mushroom-leek-and-fontina-frittata

Frittata with Mushroom, Leek, and Fontina Cheese

Eggs are my favorite food and I could eat them all day long for every meal.   Frittatas are almost a perfect egg dish because they don’t have to be served hot to be delicious!  In fact, they can be served at room temperature so they’re a perfect do-ahead entrée when you have friends over for breakfast or dinner.  This recipe for a vegetarian frittata is from the bon appétit test kitchen issue February 2013.

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium leeks, whites and pale-green parts only, chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10″ nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, crème fraîche, and parsley in a large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute mixture. Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven. Bake frittata until golden brown and center is set, 25-30 minutes.

 

How a Foodie Eats the Perfect Meal

friends around a table having a great meal

I always find it funny when someone asks me if I’m a foodie.  I guess I am, I love eating both at home and out.  It doesn’t matter how close or far away, how casual or fancy the place is, food trucks are good too as far as I’m concerned.  The only criteria I insist on, no matter the price of the meal, is that the food has got to be good.

I do love McDonald’s French Fries, a double-double protein style from In-n-Out Burger all the way to my own personal must-have – my monthly visit to Maude in Beverly Hills for their phenomenal prix-fixe dinners. I will not however spend money, no matter how inexpensive or popular a place is, unless the food is good.

Having said all of that, except for the prix-fixe dinners, my friends always defer to me when we are ordering our meal. That is not to say that I do not ask everyone if there is a dish on the menu that looks good to them or, if they’ve been to the place before, if there’s something that they love in particular.

I absolutely do ask those questions.  You have to consider who is with you and what you know about their eating habits – you know – what they like to eat and if they’re willing to stretch their comfort zone a little.  I have my limits on the stretching – I’m all about the texture so I just can’t do some things – chicken wings for one as I don’t like what I refer to as “snappy” things.   I’ve acquired a taste for octopus but I’ve discovered it has to be grilled which dries it out a bit and not poached – slimey!

I’m completely out of the habit of ordering my own appetizer and entrée.  I just don’t do it anymore – it’s not fun!  We are always the group next to you that orders several dishes “for the table” and it looks like we have ordered way too much food (sometimes it’s true) but it’s really so that we can all share and taste multiple items from the chef.

My friends tell me that I’m the best at ordering a meal and I say that it’s a trick to know how to order around a menu.  I’ll let you in on my secret.

I find that the appetizers on a menu tend to be more interesting than the entrées so I will generally order a few of those, then at least one from the salad section (depending on the group size this may go to 2-3), at least one side vegetable and, again depending on the group size, a couple of entrées that we all share.  Try not to repeat items from the appetizers to the entrées – if the appetizer has crab then don’t order a crab entrée.

If you’ve done this correctly everyone has tasted multiple dishes, there’s not too much left on the table and everyone has room to share a couple of desserts.  I’m one of those that a spoonful or two of something sweet is enough for me.  Try it the next time you’re out, it works with just one friend too.  Just sayin’.

3 Truly Fantastic Italian “Relationship Recipes” from La Festa della Donna

A “Relationship Recipe” is a recipe I’ve developed over my whole life, but especially over the last 20 years as a restaurateur, to create, encourage and strengthen our connections to those around us – Friends, colleagues, family and loved ones, using food shared and time spent around the table. The sharing of food is a very personal and intimate experience. Cooking and eating use almost all of our senses – Sight, smell, touch and taste. When we cook together and eat together, we know that we are part of a community (a family, a group of friends, a couple) and the sharing of that experience reinforces our knowledge that we are important to others and that we love and are loved in return. It feeds our soul in a manner that cannot be done any other way.

For my recent event celebrating La Festa della Donna, one of my cooking specialists, Luca de Matteis, and I worked together to select a few of his recipes that were simple enough for a non-cook to prepare, had opportunities for others to help in the cooking of the dish (being a part of the experience of creating the meal) and were universal in their appeal. Luca and I both wanted to impress on everyone that food does not need to be complicated to be delicious. He and I agree that the simpler and easier something is to prepare the more inclined a person will be to actually cook it and share that experience with others.

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Recipes provided by Luca de Matteis.

Pasta alla Puttanesca (Olive and Capers)

Ingredients:

•Spaghetti: 400gr or about 1lb
•Black Pitted Olives (kalamata olives are ok):150gr or about 6oz
•San Marzano Red Tomato sauce: 400gr or about 1lb
•Capers: 2-3 teaspoon
•Italian Parsley (chopped): 2 tablespoons
•Extra Virgin Olive oil: 5 tablespoons
•Salt as needed
•Pepper if preferred
•Garlic: 1 clove
•Anchovies: 3-4 filet

Instructions:

1. In a large sauce pan, saute the garlic until a bit brown (do not burn).
2. Add the anchovies and cook until those melt and add pepper if desired.
3. Add capers, olives, and parsley in this order.
4. Leave each ingredient to sizzle for a few minutes.
5. Add the San Marzano red tomato sauce and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes.
6. In the mean time, boil water in a mid size pot, add the spaghetti and cook as indicated on the package (it shows the number of minutes).
7. Drain pasta and mix it in the sauce pan with the previously prepared olive, capers and tomato sauce.
8. Garnish each plate with a sprinkle of the chopped parsley and fresh black pepper.

Eat while it’s hot!

Serves 4-5 guests

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Tagliatelle or Linguine with Panna, Prosciutto, Funghi e Piselli

Ingredients:

•Linguine or Tagliatelle (egg pasta preferred): 300gr or about 2/3 lb
•Creme Fraiche: 8oz (panna in italian, if not available replace with heavy cream)
•Prosciutto cotto (ham): 300gr or about 2/3 lb (cut in small cubes)
•Dried Porcini Mushrooms: 40gr or about 1.5 oz ( before cooking, re-hydrate the mushrooms in warm water for 30 min)
•Green Peas: 150 gr or about 6oz (great if frozen)
•Onion: 1 chopped in small pieces
•Butter: 1 tablespoon
•Extra virgin Olive oil: 2 tablespoons
•Parmesan cheese: 1 teaspoon per person or plate
•Chive: 1 teaspoon per person or plate finely chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add olive oil.
2. Add the chopped onion and cook until lightly brown.
3. Drain the revived mushrooms (funghi in Italian) and add to the sauce pan along with prosciutto cotto (ham) and frozen green peas (piselli in italian) straight for the bag.
4. Let it sizzle for 1 or 2 minutes and then add the creme fraiche or heavy cream (panna in italian).
5. Let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
6. In a mid size pot, boil water and add the tagliatelle (or linguine). If egg pasta is used once it raises to the surface remove from the pot with tongues and add straight to the sauce pan, mix it on a low heat. Otherwise, drain pasta and add to sauce pan.
7. Garnish the plate with Parmesan cheese and chopped chive.

Eat while it’s hot!

Expert tip for boiling water: When cooking pasta, make sure to bring water to a boil, then add salt before adding any pasta. Usually a couple of tablespoons of fine salt is sufficient. Based on the sauce you are preparing, modify quantity of salt. If the sauce is already salty do not add any salt to the boiling water. This is a great reason to always taste your sauce while cooking it!

 

Serves 4-5 guests

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Sanguinaccio (Chocolate Dessert Cream)

Ingredients:

•Cocoa power (100% cocoa, good quality e.g. Valrhona): 100gr or about 3.5 oz
•All purpose flour: 50 gr or about 1.75 oz
•Cane Sugar: 200 gr or 7 oz
•Whole milk: 400 ml or 14 fl. oz.
•Dark chocolate pieces: 50gr or about 1.75oz
•Cinnamon powder: a couple of pinches
•Vanilla extract: 2 teaspoons
•Orange peel of one orange

Instructions:

1. In a mid size pot, mix cocoa powder, flour and sugar.
2. Bring to a uniform dry mix with no clumps. Add whole milk (room temp) and turn on the stove to medium heat.
3. Cook for about 20 minutes and use a wooden spoon to stir continuously, until the mix thickens.
4. When lifting the spoon up, the cream should fall like thick syrup (it will harden slightly when cold).
5. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract for about 1 minute and turn off the stove.
6. Turn off the burner add the dark chocolate pieces (it will melt immediately), keep stirring during this step.
7. Poor into espresso cups. Depending on the portion, you can fill up to 10 cups.
8. Sprinkle an orange peel on each cup and serve with lady fingers cookies or your favourite cookie.
9. No need to refrigerate. Great at room temperature.

Expert tip: If the mix appears to be too thick or not fluid enough, add a little bit of extra milk while still hot, stir throughout.
Serves 6-10 guests

Saturday Morning Recipe: Not Your Mother’s Oatmeal

This Is Definitely Not Your Mother’s Oatmeal

The author of this recipe is Heidi Swanson. If you know me, you know my favorite meal of the day is Breakfast. I found this recipe on one of my favorite sites for inspiration, Epicurious.com. I think this would be a great addition to a brunch spread on a lazy Sunday. It was a reprint on their site from Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson in April 2011.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups/7 oz/200 g rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup/2 oz/60 g walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup/2 oz/60 g natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups/475 ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch/1 cm pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups/6.5 oz/185 g huckleberries, blueberries, or mixed berries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch/20cm square baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the milk, egg, half of the butter, and the vanilla.
  4. Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top and serve. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar or drizzle with maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter.