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Tuscany- Day Two

June 25, 2013

I woke up to an amazing morning in Tuscany- it was absolutely beautiful… a blue cloudless sky and birds chirping…

The day started with a delicious breakfast, a visit to the super market and a delicious lunch. We found this hole in the wall restaurant by the high way. We walked straight into the kitchen not realizing where we were and asked them if they could make pasta and salad enough for sixteen people. They were very skeptical and decided to have a conversation amongst themselves before they gave us an answer. I watched the mom make pasta pomodoro and pasta carbonara for us. We brought the pastas and salad home and washed it down with some delicious, very cheap Tuscan wines….

Pasta Pomodoro and Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Pomodoro and Pasta Carbonara

For dinner we went to a neighboring town to a small restaurant that was willing to accommodate sixteen of us. We started off with delicious brushchetta pomodoro Brushchetta Pomodoro.

Tuscan Bean Soup

Tuscan Bean Soup

Tuscan Fried Chicken

Tuscany 1 Panna Cotta Berries

Had some delicious Tuscan bean soup, Zucchini Pasta, Fried Chicken and three different kinds of Panna Cotta- chocolate, caramel and mixed berries. The highlight was the brushchetta, fried chicken and the caramel panna cotta!! The local wine was delicious…

We all went home very happy, relaxed and filled with delicious food and wine!

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Tuscany- Day One

June 23, 2013

So after a lot of planning and anticipating, my Italy trip is here! I am here early in Rome with my daughter waiting for the rest of the family (14 other people) for our first week together in Tuscany.

The trip started off not so auspiciously with a cancelled flight- it turned out for the best as the airline put us on a direct flight to Rome instead of the initial one with a layover in Lisbon. My daughter and I got in quite early and since our hotel room was not ready, we decided to venture into the city. Although we were quite tired, we managed to walk around for a few hours, eating gelato.

Before we got to the city, we ate a delicious snack of salami panini and cappuccino at the airport. My daughter had her first doughnut of the day (she had two altogether) – they were all delicious!! The problem of not sleeping on the plane is that one is completely exhausted! We picked up some pizza, salad and wine to go and headed back to the hotel room. The Sangiovese was delicious and so was the pizza! The highlight was the simple salad made out of some greens, radicchio, a salted ricotta salata, olives and tomatoes. Packets of Modena balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper accompanied the salad. I dressed the salad and began eating. As I bit into a cherry tomato, I was taken aback by the most delicious, juicy and sweet- the most amazing tomato I have ever had! This salad was not from a fancy restaurant… goes to show how ingredient driven this cuisine is…I love it!!

It took us all day but we made it to the villa in Tuscany. Why did it take all day, you ask? Well, long story, but it includes rental car delay and meeting a childhood friend at the car rental office after twenty years. We got their 10 o’clock at night and ended the day with some delicious wine and cheese.

 

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Potato and Pepper Home Fries

June 12, 2013

I wanted to post this recipe for the longest time. I don’t end up making these home fries very often but they are so delicious… they deserve to be on this blog! Try this next time you are in the mood for eggs…

  • 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
  • 6 to 7 green onions, whites and greens chopped and separated
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 to 4 medium yellow potatoes, chopped into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 yellow or any color pepper, chopped
  • Salt

Add the chopped potatoes to a medium saucepan. Top with water and bring to a boil. Drain and let dry.

Heat a cast iron pan with the olive oil. Add the potatoes and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the whites of the green onions, garlic and yellow pepper and sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt and the greens of the green onion. Check for seasonings and serve with brunch or breakfast.

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Mexican Style Quinoa

June 11, 2013

I usually like to make some delicious Mexican rice with tacos. This time I decided to substitute quinoa. It came out delicious- no one commented on detecting any difference…

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin, powdered
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • ½ yellow/orange/red pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt

Heat a medium sized saucepan with the olive oil. Add the cumin and chipotle powder. Saute for 30 seconds. Add the shallot, ½ pepper and garlic. Saute for a minute on medium heat. Add the tomato puree and sauté for 1 minute. Add the quinoa, broth and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer till the liquid is cooked off on the surface. Cover with lid and lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Serve with tacos.

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Avocado and Cucumber Guacamole

June 10, 2013

A bit of change from the regular guacamole- this one has cucumber in it. English cucumber adds a delicious crunch to this rich, yummy salad!

  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • ½ English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • Juice of a large lemon or lime

Mix all the ingredients and serve with tacos.

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Chipotle Fish Tacos with Tomato Salsa

June 9, 2013

Easy, flavorful and quick meal to make through the week or for company on the weekend!

  • 1 pound black cod or any other fish of choice, cut into fillets
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix the adobo sauce, chipotle powder, olive oil, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Marinate the fish with the mixture for 2 hours.

Place on a lined cookie sheet and broil in oven for 4 to 5 minutes till the fish is just cooked through (cooking time will vary according to the fillet size).

  •  1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Small corn tortillas

Heat the tortillas and place the cooked fish fillets and top with tomato salsa.

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Meatballs with Smoked Paprika

June 2, 2013

Here is another meatball recipe.  They are so easy to make and I like to make mine with different flavorings. I also like to make them really healthy and generally make them with ground turkey meat. These particular ones have my favorite flavors- smoked paprika and dried ancho chilies. They both have a delicious, smoky flavor with a bit of kick.

I added the paprika in the meat itself including onion and garlic. For the sauce I reconstituted a few ancho chilies, blended them with crushed tomatoes and cooked it. I then formed the meatballs and cooked them in the delicious sauce.

 

  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk

Transfer the meat into a large bowl. Add the paprika, salt, thyme, beaten egg, cilantro, onion and garlic. Mix well. In the meantime soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for ten minutes. Add the soaked breadcrumbs into the meat mixture and mix well. Keep aside in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours.

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried ancho chilies
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt

Soak the dried chilies in the boiling water for half an hour. Blend the soft peppers (and the water) with the crushed tomatoes until all blended well. Add the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the tomato mixture into the pan and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 minutes on high. Simmer while forming meatballs and gently dropping them in the sauce. Add the cinnamon. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Check for seasonings and serve with rice or bread.

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