Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Italy Pics, because I like them...

Appeninne Colussus, Villa Di Pratolino, Tuscany

Arco della Pace, Milano

Blue Hour, St Peter's Basilica

Boccadasse, Genoa, Liguria

Burano, Veneto

Coke cake

Borrowed from a friend, looked great. Again, I greatly dislink dry cake, so, here's a promising "moist" cake recipe.

Double Chocolate Coca Cola Cake

1 cup Coca Cola (real thing, not diet)
1/2 cup oil 
1 stick butter
3 Tablespoon cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla


1 stick butter
3 Tablespoon cocoa
6 Tablesppon of cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar

In a saucepan, mix Coca Cola, oil, butter and cocoa and bring to a boil. In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Pour the boiling Cola mixture over the flour mixture and beat well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, soda and vanilla and beat well. Pour mixture into a greased and floured 13 x 9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees or 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan. Cool for about 10 minutes before frosting.

Frosting: In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and milk. Heat until the butter melts. Beat in the remaining ingredients and spread on the cake while it's still warm.

Buon Appetito!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sauce or gravy...???

Well, where we come from it's sauce, but for my comrades in parts of NY (and maybe elsewhere), it can be gravy, too. Of course, to us, gravy is a slightly thickened brown sauce that we served with turkey. Now that I'm in the south, however, gravy is a very thick white/off white/grayish substance, often with sausage in it. Let me just say, though I had trouble describing it, the southern gravy is actually pretty good, especially with spicy sausage served over biscuits. Good lord! Rabbit trail!!! Sorry, back on track now. So, basically, it's red sauce to me and I'm making a batch even as we speak. I tend to simmer the sauce a good portion of the day, or as long as possible. I have yet to simmer it too long, I'm actually not sure it's possible. It just keeps getting better. Anyway, the other day someone asked me if I was going to post a sauce recipe, so here goes. Again, let me toss out my disclaimer...I rarely measure anything for my sauce...sorry. Having said that, this is what I did this am:

4, 6oz cans tomato paste (rule of thumb for me is about 2 cans of liquid per can of paste)
2, #10 cans crushed tomatoes (#10 holds 3 quarts or 96 fluid oz)
1 bottle of red wine (never use cooking wine, cheaper wine is fine, though, or you can use water to thin the paste instead)
olive oil (since I used a giant pot, 20 qt, I believe, I needed a good bit of oil to coat the bottom)
minced garlic (again, no measurement, I use a serving spoon and I added 2 scoops, about 1/4 C)
(there has been some debate between fresh garlic and minced garlic, use whatever you like, I like having a big jar of minced on hand).
Spices: I love fresh, but for some reason, I prefer dried spices for my sauce. I use:
1-2 T rosemary (in almost every savory dish)
1-2 t thyme
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 T granulated garlic
1-2 T basil
1-2 t oregano (it's strong)
1-2 T parsley
1-2 t cilantro
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
small amount of sugar to cut acid (maybe 1/4 c for this size, you don't want it sweet...or at least, I don't)

So, yeah, these are rough estimates since, like I said, I don't measure. The nice thing about sauce is that since it simmers so long, you can taste it and keep adding spices throughout the cooking time.
I start on medium heat with some olive oil and garlic and let it cook a bit (though you need to be careful since it can burn easily) then I add the tomato paste and spices and wine (or water if you prefer). Let that cook a little, while stirring, then I add the crushed tomatoes. Let me say this about the tomatoes, I have not found a lot of difference in tomato pastes, and I use whatever crushed tomatoes happen to be sold in whatever store I am in, however, the best tomatoes, in my opinion, are the San Marzano. I have only found whole tomatoes (canned) and not crushed with the San Marzano, so I usually take the "path of least resistance" and just get whatever type of crushed is on hand.
Once I have everything in the pot, I turn it down (2-2.5 on my stove) and just let it simmer to perfection, stirring occasionally. That's it, very simple. Maybe I'll post some other sauces later on, like alfredo, pesto, etc. As always, taste, and experiment. If there's a spice I add that you don't like, then don't put it in. Sometimes, I'll add bay leaves (but then I have to remember to take them out). I have a friend that cooks a bone-in beef roast (after searing it) in their sauce, and it's very good. I make mine meatless and then usually have the meat on the side.
Here are some pics of sauce making:

Some of my ingredients, black pepper, cilantro, thyme, crushed red pepper, rosemary, salt, red wine...

The basics

Spice basket, I should really get a spice rack...if for no other reason than to have my friends be able to say, "Nice Rack!"

Paste, wine, garlic, olive oil, spices, BCT (before crushed tomatoes)

Happily simmering. Will turn a much deeper color in a few hours.

Buon Appetito!

From a friend...

I borrowed this from a friend because it looked awesome. I have not tried it yet, but I will...

Fudge Brownie Pie

3/4 cup flour 
1 cup of regular sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces butter, melted
2 large free range eggs, beaten 
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans 
2 handfuls of mini marshmallows

For the frosting:

2 ounces butter, melted (1/4 cup)
1 ounce cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
2 ounces evaporated milk (1/4 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (8 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the toasted nuts. Pour into the prepared pan. 

Bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return to the oven for a few minutes to melt the marshmallows. Remove from the oven and carefully spread the chocolate frosting over top.

To make the chocolate frosting mix all ingredients together in a bowl, beating with an electric whisk until smooth and thick. Spread on the hot marshmallows. Let cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve.

Buon Appetito!

Friday, April 26, 2013

More bacon goodness...

Here's another recipe that is built on bacon. Why, you may ask? Because, bacon is awesome. Here you go:

A hot cheesy baked dip with all of the flavors of a bacon double cheese burger that makes for some great game day snacking!

Servings: makes 4+ servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 6 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup
  1. Cook the ground beef in a pan over medium heat, set it aside and drain the grease from the pan.
  2. Cook the bacon in the pan until crispy, about 6-10 minutes, set aside and drain all but a tablespoon of the grease.
  3. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Mix the ground beef, bacon, onions and garlic, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, mozzarella, cheddar, worcestershire sauce and ketchup and pour it into a baking dish.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top starts turning a light golden brown and then sides are bubbling, about 20-30 minutes.
From my friends at Yummly.

Buon Appetito!

Q n E, fun for kids...

So, a family member sent this and I needed to share. I don't condone Cool Whip often, as I've said, but I can bend at times...I do, however, condone Nutella!

Easy popsicles:

popsicle molds

2 C Cool Whip (thawed)
6 T Nutella
1 C milk

Mix Cool Whip, Nutella, and milk. Pour into molds and freeze. Done.

Buon Appetito!

Just close your eyes and pretend...

Cliff at Tropea, Calabria

Duomo di Urbino

Gallipoli, Puglia

Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, Leggiuno, Lake Maggiore
St Michael's Abby, Province of Turin, Piedmont

Santa Maria Assunta Church, Camogli, Liguria

Sermoneta, Lazio

Spanish Steps

Toblino Castle, Calavino, Province of Trento

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pão de queijo: Brazilian cheese bread

Another buddy showed me this and though I have not had time to try it, I thought it looked great, and if I'm not mistaken, it's gluten free (which seems to be the new fad now). I will definitely try this and it will become a repost, I'm quite sure. I'm not convinced that I would use rice bran oil, but a lighter oil does sound good, like maybe a canola, grapeseed, almond, or hazelnut oil or something to that effect.

Pão de queijo: brazilian cheese bread


1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil (I used rice bran oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g / 1/2lb tapioca starch (also known as manioc starch, cassava starch etc)
1 egg
100g / 1/4lb finely grated parmesan (or similar) cheese 

- In a saucepan, combine milk, water, oil, salt and bring to boil. 
- Remove pan from heat and slowly pour the liquid on to the tapioca in a bowl while stirring it with a wooden spoon to a dough texture. (You may not need all the liquid mixture - stop pouring if the dough starts to become too soft and moist.)
- Stir in the egg, and lastly, the cheese. 
- Grease hands, knead and make approximately a dozen little balls - mine were about the size of golf balls or a bit larger. (I had to shape rather than roll mine because my mix, while not liquid, was still quite mushy - and as you can see they're more like little lumps. They did end up puffing up nicely in the oven though!)
- Arrange on a greased baking tray, leaving enough space between each ball for expanding. Bake in an oven that has been preheated at 200°C (392ºF) for 20 minutes or till they transform into golden puffs. 
- Best served hot or warm.

Buon Appetito!

Posted by leaf (the indolent cook)

More guilty pleasures.

So, a friend showed me this and I had to share because it looked good and it's unhealthy. I am always on the prowl for new recipes and ideas, and I usually adapt them to my liking (which from what I could find and credit below, it appears to have been adapted from another recipe).

Marshmallow Brownies with Salted Almonds
Yield: 16 (1-inch) brownies
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 30 min


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups mini-marshmallows
1/2 cup salted almonds, roughly chopped

Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan


Preheat the oven to 325°F and line the pan with parchment paper or foil leaving an overhang on two sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a heatproof bowl or sauce pot. Set the bowl atop a sauce pot of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Stir the butter from time to time until it's melted and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the double-boiler and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the vanilla and then stir in the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously between each addition. Once the batter looks well-blended, shiny and thick, stir in the flour until it's fully incorporated. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake the brownies for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with the chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and chopped almonds. Return the brownies to the oven for about 5 minutes, just until the marshmallows begin to melt. Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool completely on a rack.
Using the parchment paper or foil overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan, and slice and serve.

Buon Appetito!

by Kelly Senyei on Just a Taste

Brownie batter recipe adapted from BitterSweet.

Peach Wine Cake

What could be better than mixing desserts with alcohol! Before I jot down the old recipe, let me just say it involves a cake mix...I know, I know! Oh, the shame! As most people that have glanced at my blog know, I prefer homemade, and typically scoff at anything not from scratch ( just for my own cooking, no judgement here). However, as I have said on occasion, sometimes you gotta give in a bit...
Here's a recipe for a peach wine cake that I find to be perdy dern goood (for my southern constituents). I have a pretty major issue with dry baked goods, and by that I mean baked goods that are supposed to be moist, and (dare I use the advanced culinary term again???) yummy, but, sadly, are not. Things like cakes, muffins, etc. Take a stand against the dry! Anyway, of course, dry and crispy is a good thing, ie, biscotti, etc (which reminds me, I should dig out some biscotti recipes). See kids, adult ADD can be fun! Where was I? Oh yes, because of my lifelong fight against the "dry", I really like this recipe. I also have one for a Frangelico cake, which is almost exactly the same, but with chocolate cake and, of course, Frangelico. Pouring a liquid over a cake once it's baked makes a lot of sense to me, pouring alcohol over cake makes even more sense...

Peach Wine Cake

1 box white cake (preferably a decent brand with the pudding inside)
4 eggs
3/4 C oil
1 box peach jello
1 C peach wine

Mix all ingredients, pour into bunt pan (slightly greased, cooking spray works, and floured), and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once done and out of the oven, place on a plate with a bit of an edge (wouldn't want to waste any wine, of course) and let cool for about 5 minutes, then slowly pour the peach wine over it (but wait, you may ask, there's no measurement for the peach wine?!? Ok, ok, the actual recipe says something like 3-4 T, but really, who are we kidding?!?). As I said, slowly pour the peach wine, depending on the crowd will determine how much. If there are kids, maybe only do the 3-4 T, but if not, do as much as you want, 1/4-1/2 C at least. You want it moist. Since it's a pretty sweet recipe, I like to serve it with canned peaches not in syrup, and a very lightly sweetened whipped cream to cut the sweetness a bit.

Here's one "pre-adornment" (before peaches and whipped cream).

I know, I feel guilty, too. So, to assuage the guilt, you can make it from scratch, adding the peach jello and peach wine to your recipe, and then dousing it in the peach wine. It's up to you. It's easy and it seems to be a crowd pleaser, but more importantly, it's moist.

Buon Appetito!  

Spring has sprung, so a little "Dole-Whip" is in order...

Borrowed from a friend, getting ready for the hot days o' summah!


2 cans (20 oz. each) DOLE crushed pineapple
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

How to make it
Drain pineapple: reserve 2 tbsp. juice.
Set aside.
Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved pineapple juice in blender.
Cover and blend until smooth.
Pour into two 1-quart freezer zipped bags.
Store bags flat in freezer.
Freeze 1 1/2 hours or until slushy.
Stir pineapple slush gently into whipped cream until slightly blended in large bowl. Return to freezer until completely frozen, about 1 hour and serve.

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome to Polenta-ville!

Polenta! Gotta love it! Again, I'm intrigued by how many people don't know what polenta is, but to be fair, everyone knows what cornmeal or grits are, so maybe it's just a semantics issue... Polenta is a course ground yellow cornmeal, and it's great, it's such a hearty fare and versatile, too. It's Italian comfort food on par with pasta, in my humble opinion (blasphemy for an Italian to compare anything to pasta!). There are a few things I do to enhance the natural goodness of the polenta. First, I always cook it in chicken stock, for savory dishes, of course. (On that note, I never cook rice in water either, always in a stock). I find it gives it a much better flavor than water. So the basic ratio is 3 to 1 (water to polenta) but then that's almost misleading because there are varying stages of thickness depending on your desired use. I like to spread the polenta on a pan and let it set while it cools then cut it into small bite size squares and top with pesto or red pepper sauce or tomato sauce. However, if you're looking for a side dish, and a porridge type consistency, cut back to maybe 1 3/4 c or even 1 1/2 c of polenta per 6 c of stock. Any stock will work, too, chicken, beef, vegetable, etc. Once it's cut into squares you can also grill it in a lightly greased grill pan if desired. If that is the plan, though, make sure you start with a thick enough consistency. So, it's pretty easy once you have figured out your measurements. Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and slowly pour polenta in while whisking. You will want a pretty heavy pan since there is a lot of  stirring involved. On that note, stir. You want to make sure there's enough liquid so the polenta cooks as well. It will thicken pretty quick, here you will have some control of how thick you want it. Once it's reached the desired thickness, and polenta is tender, I then add some cheese (as much as you want, you can never have too much cheese, maybe 1 1/2 c - 2 c per "6 to 2" batch) like romano, asiago, or parmesan (the real stuff, not the "shakey" cheese, as the kids say, that comes in a can). Make sure the cheese melts, then, either serve hot as a side, or let cool to eat as an appetizer. That's it, very easy. So easy, in fact, that even a non-Italian can make it! Kidding, of course.

Nice, course ground (consistent size) polenta. I also use it when I make pizza to keep the dough from sticking to the storage pans of pizza peels.

Porridge style as a side.

Grilled after allowed to set up.

These were cut into strips and then tossed in olive oil and salt and baked in a 450° convection oven for about 25-30 min, flipping occasionally. Polenta fries!


So, there it is, easy, versatile, and delicious. For my local peeps, the best polenta I have found is at ChefSmart. It comes in a 5# yellow burlap sack. As a matter of fact, here's a pic!

As always, experiment and enjoy. 

Buon Appetito!

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce...

Here's a roasted red pepper sauce that my brother gave me the recipe to. Anything with roasted red peppers is good with me! It's easy, versatile, and (to use an extremely advanced culinary term) yummy. It can be used as a dipping sauce with crostini, or fresh bread, or crackers, whatever you like. One of my favorite uses is as a topping for my polenta appetizer (I'll post that recipe sometime soon).  Here you go:


2 large red peppers
2 T olive oil
1 t salt (or more to taste)
1 c cream
1 T minced garlic (I buy a large jar of minced garlic in olive oil)

*Roasted peppers: You can buy them in a jar, but, though they're a lot of work to roast, they're much, much better homemade! I do mine on the grill, but if you have a gas stove, that works, or the even under the broiler. The trick is to have the heat on "medium" so the outside chars and the inside cooks. On the grill or gas burner, using tongs, continue to rotate to get an even char on all sides. Once the pepers are softened and all the skin is basically burnt, throw them in a paper bag and seal it. While they sit, their own steam will help to finish the cooking. Once they've cooled off, remove all stems, skin, and seeds, and cut into strips. Toss with a little olive oil, thinly sliced fresh garlic, and salt for every day inhaling, I could eat them by the cup full. For this recipe, though, once the seeds, etc have been removed, follow recipe.


Using a blender or food processor, add all the ingredients and puree. Pour into a pan and simmer until it thickens. Sauce can be eaten warm or cold, I prefer it cold as a garnish on the polenta...Like I always say, have fun and experiment. For instance, my brothers recipe didn't have garlic in it (or maybe he forgot to write that down), either way, I added some. Another option you might like is to toss a few fresh basil leaves in when pureeing.

Buon Appetito!

Yet another Q n E...

Yup, just like I like 'em, quick, easy, and unhealthy! Again, not entirely homemade, but looked good nonetheless. Sent to me by a friend...

Cheesecake Crescent Rolls

2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
2 (8oz each) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted

Unroll and spread 1 of the cans of crescent rolls on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish (or 8 x 8 if you want to cut the recipe in half). Combine softened cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Spread over crescent roll layer. Unroll and layer remaining crescent rolls over cream cheese layer. Melt your butter and spread over top of crescent rolls. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake for 20-30 minutes in 350 degree oven until bubbly and slightly browned. Drizzle with a little honey if you like. Let cool a bit, slice and eat.

Buon Appetito!

Spice Girl...

Yeah, I apologize, I couldn't think of a better title...Anyway, my wife sent me this and I thought it looked interesting. As my broken record mantra goes: everything homemade is better.

Make your own Ranch, Dry Onion Soup Mix and Taco Seasoning and store in small mason jars....This is soooo much HEALTHIER than those you buy at the store!! They contain a TON of stuff that is not good for you!!

Taco Seasoning:
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sea salt
Put ingredients into a jar and shake.

Dry Onion Soup Mix:
2/3 cup dried, minced onion
3 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake. I’d recommend shaking the jar to mix the ingredients well before each use.
Use 4 tablespoons in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.

5 tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoons parsley flakes
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For dip: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream.
Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend.

Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quick update on new batch of "lime-cello"

Here it is! I patiently (by which I, of course, mean impatiently) waited for 2 weeks while this batch happily steeped in the pantry. I know I mentioned all of my liqueur recipes in an earlier post, but here it is again since it's a bit different than the limoncello.

I start the same as the limoncello, zest 16-18 limes, and soak in 1.75 L of 100-proof vodka for 2 weeks. Then I add the simple syrup: 2 c sugar, 3 c water. After that I add 1 c of the fresh lime juice (from said zested limes), 1 c simple syrup (which I keep a bottle of in the fridge), and 1 c vodka (which I also keep on hand and encourage my wife to sip as it appears to make me more attractive). I find the lime zest is not as flavorful as the lemon zest, so I started adding some of the juice and that seemed to take care of it. 

Buon Appetito!


I've been a bit surprised at how many people I've talked to don't know what ceviche is. I'll tell you what it is, awesome, that's what. So, ceviche actually refers to a method of "cooking" without heat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceviche). The acid in the lime juice actually cooks the fish/seafood, but since there's no heat, it tends to stay really tender. This is a great dish we make in the summer, but it's great anytime. I'll try to approximate amounts since I typically throw everything in a bowl until I think it looks good (again with my disclaimer about not sticking strictly to recipes). I looked at a bunch of recipes and then decide to take snippets from each and come up with something I like, as is my usual way. I had the opportunity to make this at my sister-in-law and brother-in-laws house in Anchorage with halibut he had actually caught, needless to say, it was awesome. So here we go:

1-1 1/2 lbs halibut (we ave used red snapper which works well, too, but white "meaty" fish seem to be the best, like the halibut, or mahi mahi, etc. You can also use shellfish, like shrimp or scallops)

1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 shallot, chopped (my wife does not like onions, although they are an option, but I can sneak a shallot in since it's mild)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 seedless cucumber, or whatever cucumber you like

1-2 daikon radish(es), diced, by far one of the most important staples, in my opinion, it's mild but gives it a great crunch

1 ripe mango, skinned, pitted, diced

1/2 C lime juice

salt to taste

A lot of recipes call for jalepenos, which I would add, but momma says no. If you like a bit of heat, it blends really well.

So, basically, this is another one of those recipes that you can and should, be creative with (as most cooking tends to be). Whatever crunchy vegetables (ie. daikon radish, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc) you like can be added, but make sure they are crunchy, otherwise they will not hold up well. Simply, throw everything in a bowl, stir a bit, cover and store in the fridge for at least an hour. This will allow the fish to "cook" and all the flavors to meld. It should be eaten that day, but is still ok the next. It loses some of the crunch and brightness on the second day, though. The flavors are amazing, the fish/seafood is tender, and it's good for you. It's a very fresh and bright dish, as well as satisfying. Be creative, and DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE FISH!

Buon Appetito! 

Props to the little lady...

So, "momma" (the wife, better half, extra rib, etc, and heretofore referred to as momma) got up and made banana bread that was pretty great. So, a quick shout out to momma with a few pics:

Buon Appetito!

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas

1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting
Kosher salt
6 strips bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
6 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced

The night before, prepare the dough: Place 3/4 cup lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes more. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place on a large floured sheet pan, place the pan in a plastic garbage bag, tie the bag loosely and refrigerate overnight.

One to two hours* before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.

Prepare the dough and toppings: Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper-towel-lined plate; roughly chop.

Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle.

Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Bake the pizza: Shake the pizza peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

* The original recipe suggests that you take the dough out one hour before baking but I took mine out two hours earlier, because I always find it takes a looong time to get dough back to proofing at room temperature. In this time, you can lazily prepare the toppings and get your oven nice and hot.

Courtesy of Yummly

Buon Appetito!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pics of places I wanna go...

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Trani, Puglia


Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Liguria

Villa del Balbianello, Lenno, Lake Como

Amalfi Coast

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Anniversary Day, Part Deux...

It was actually a pretty lazy day Saturday. Not that I'm complaining of course. We did a bit of laundry, ran a few errands, and made the kids get outside since it was a beautiful day. We then ended up getting a hot dog at Skippy's (http://www.skippyshotdogs.com/) in downtown Winston for lunch after walking around a bit. For the record, I'm not a big hot dog enthusiast, but there's something about Skippy's that's pretty enticing. They make their own pretzel buns, and then grill both the bun and the Nathan's all beef hot dog. It's quite a culinary euphoria to be honest. After that, we had to hit Sweet Frog to get our frozen yogurt fix. After another stop or two, then a leisurely jaunt back to the house, we ended up digging through some old (really old) family pictures with mom for a few hours, trying to figure out who was who, etc. All of this scintillating storytelling was really just an appetizer (you mean it gets better?!? Yes, yes it does. You are welcome).

I really just wanted to post about our anniversary dinner and give a shout out about a great meal, at a great, restaurant, for a great evening, with great company. So, my wife (of 17 years for reiteration purposes) and I made it to Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro (http://mozelles.com/) to celebrate. It was a beautiful evening, and though there was a bit of a wait, with a drink in hand, a light spring breeze, and lovely company, it was more than bearable. The ambiance downtown is pretty cool, with the lights, the horse-drawn carriages, the city noises, and, at least last night, the hundreds of teeny boppers in full "prom" regalia.

Anyway, enough babbling. Suffice it to say, we had a great evening (no, I will not write about how it ended, shame on you!). More about our meal, I had the meatloaf with spicy collard greens and cheesy grits, and Sarah had tomato pie also with cheesy grits. I was fortunate enough to find a great beer to accompany said fare, called "Monk in the Trunk", very flavorful, rich amber with a touch of sweetness, but not sweet...if that makes sense. We finished up with a toasted pecan bread pudding that had a sauce that would "make you wanna slap yo' mama!" (as they say here in the south...). All in all, another great evening, too bad we can't sit outside of a quant, urban eatery, sip, munch, and gaze, every evening, but alas, life must go on. Here are a few pics to prove that I only made up part of the story:

Hardly changed at all in 17 years...

Beautiful evening (just to prove I wasn't lying)


Bringin' sexy back...

Poor "Clyde" (as I will call him) seemed quite weary...

I am formidable...

Bacon wrapped mini meatloaf with spicy collard greens and cheesy grits.

Tomato pie, made with the best tomatoes (San Marzano)

...and the setting sun...

Amazing pecan bread pudding.

Buon Appetito!