19 August 2010

Alcamo Marina - June 2010

31 March 2008

Craving Salt and Basketball?

This winter has been full of cravings, mainly for hot and comforting food! The meal pictured above was made in response to a craving for salty food---ahh, nothing like overdoing it on the sodium....we only live once! Pictured are the infamous pre-fried panelle (Sicilian chickpea flour fritters) and potato/ricotta croquettes.

Antonio made an interesting salad with arugula, radicchio, and a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil with shaved parmigiano cheese sprinkled on top.

We got some last minute tickets to see an Easter Sunday basketball game between the Raptors and the Nuggets and we were soooooo close! Very exciting, even though I'm not generally a fan of sports...

A somewhat shameful secret to share on this blog follows: I haven't been doing ANY cooking this year. Antonio has taken over in that department and is beginning to outshine me! His chopping skills are second to none and vegetarian cuisine is his specialty. I'm assuming the role reversal will reverse itself once more when my summer holidays begin. Only two months of "real" teaching left--and thank goodness for that. As satisfying of a career as teaching may be, it is exceptionally draining. I leave some of my classes exhausted as in "Now I'm going to go and lie on the couch for the rest of the evening and be spoon fed" exhausted...

Maybe I'm just waiting for Spring to really begin for my second wind. Hopefully!

26 February 2008

This Long, Long Winter.....

When will it all end? I'm seriously considering attempting to "fake and bake" to make up for a lack of sun. Certainly, we have over-compensated by cooking richer and more comforting food. A. has been doing most of the cooking since I'm usually busy planning lessons in the evening. I've switched schools--I now teach in the west end of city. I am also getting my feet wet teaching social science courses. Teaching Civics is a great opportunity to expose 15 year- olds to the social and political issues of our times.

Now..... to the foods! The top two photos show our first attempt at homemade pasta "handkerchiefs" served with the pesto below. It was delicious but we should have rolled the pieces even thinner. Next comes a salad with arugula, pears, parmigiano, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. Finally, a black mocha cake with a raspberry filling and masked with dark chocolate ganache. Grappa was a perfect accompaniment!

06 November 2007

Rose Rosse--My Song of the Moment...

04 September 2007

Tomatoes at Rosa & Pino's on Labour Day Weekend!

Peach Pie with Jodi

Jodi and I got together at her place to bake a peach pie--since it was her first pie ever it was a good thing it turned out so well! Between Jodi and her family and us two, we probably finished the pie that very same evening! The recipe follows. As usual, I prefer the more finicky but infinitly more tasty butter crust.

Double Pie Crust (Top and bottom for a 9 inch piet)
-->Find more tips and details at MarthaStewart.com

2.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp each of salt & sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
Ice water
1 egg

Peach Pie Filling (Adapted from Recipezaar's "Simple Peach Pie")

6 cups peeled, sliced peaches (firm but ripe local peaches work best)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 tbsp butter (optional)

1. Prepare the butter by cutting it into 1 cm cubes and chilling it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
2. Prepare a cup of ice water by putting it into the freezer or placing some ice cubes in a glass
3. Measure the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl
4. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your hands, "cut" the butter into the flour, working quickly until you have a crumbly mixture with pea sized and smaller lumps of butter
5. Add 1/4 cup of ice water to the mixture, working the water in quickly
6. The dough is ready when a handful holds together when squeezed--it should still be quite crumbly. Add up to 4 tablespoons more of water, one at a time, if needed.
7. Divide the dough into two flattened rounds, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
8. Peel and slice the peaches into a large bowl, adding cinnamon, sugar and flour. Mix and set aside.
9. Take the rounds from the fridge a few minutes before you are ready to roll them. Roll the bottom round out, flouring the rolling pin and board lightly and unsticking the dough from the work surface periodically (An "offset spatula" made of metal is perfect for the job). Brush excess flour off the dough before fitting it into the glass or ceramic pie plate.
10. Mound the filling into the pie dish lined with the bottom crust, spreading it evenly and pouring any juices over top. Beat the egg lightly and using a brush, spread some egg onto the sides of the bottom crust (where the top crust will be placed). Dot the optional butter over the filling.
11. Roll out the second round of dough and drape it over the filling. Finish the pie by pressing the two edges of dough together with a fork and trimming any excess dough with a sharp paring knife. Using the same knife, cut several slits and holes into the top of the pie, in a pattern of your choice. Brush the top with the remaining egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar if desired.
12. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes to 1 hour at 425 degrees. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. The pie is amazing on its own but would also be great with vanilla ice cream!

Thanks Jodi!

21 August 2007

Donna's Chocolate Zucchini Bread

When we went with a couple of our friends, Jaime and Joey, to visit Jaime's parents in Welland for the day and to swim in their new salt water pool, we didn't quite realize that we would be eating all day! One of the snacks that our perfect hostess Donna baked up and served between lunch and dinner was this wonderfully simple but oh so tasty Chocolate Zucchini Loaf. What better way to take advantage of in- season produce than to bake with it? This loaf is moist, pleasantly sweet, and has the interesting added taste of cocoa and the crunch of walnuts. Needless to say, when Jaime's mom mailed me a packet of recipes that she had used that day, this is the first one I had to try. Try it yourself and enjoy zucchini in a sweet context--thanks Donna!
3 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 heaping tsp. cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Mix all the ingredients except for the last two in a large bowl. Combine the eggs and the oil in a small bowl then add to the mixture in the large bowl. Mix until moist. Grease 2 loaf pans, or line them with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, using a skewer to test for 'doneness'. Enjoy pool side or on the deck!

20 August 2007

Late Summer Dishes: Pasta & Peperonata

Ahh, what to cook on a warm summer evening with 2 zucchini and 4 green peppers lolling around in the fridge drawer?

The pasta with zucchini is the simplest dish imaginable:

For two people, chop 2 zucchini into thin rounds or half rounds and saute in a large saute pan in some olive oil with thinly sliced onion, a clove of garlic and some hot pepper flakes and salt until cooked through and browned. Add a handful of black olives near the end of the cooking time. Cook 250 grams of pasta until a minute before al dente, preserve a cup of the cooking water and drain. Throw the pasta in with the zucchini "sauce" and mix over medium heat for a minute or two, adding some of the pasta water to moisten. Grate parmigiano or stronger pecorino cheese at the table.

The peperonata, a Sicilian dish, is also simple but requires about an hour to fully achieve the lovely soft texture:

As a side dish, cut 4 green peppers (or any colour peppers for that matter) into 4 pieces and thinly slice each piece. Thinly slice 1 large onion. Grate 1/4 to 1/2 cup of strong cheese. Prepare about 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and saute the sliced onion until wilted over medium heat. Add the peppers and a pinch of salt, give the whole thing a good stir, and lower to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes--the vegetables will become soft and the onions almost caramelized. When sufficiently soft (and don't underestimate or try to rush the dish!) add the cheese and breadcrumbs, stirring to mix. Serve warm or at room temperature. These peppers are a wonderful topping on a piece of crusty bread!

31 July 2007

Italia Summer 2007--Beach at Alcamo Marina, Mountain Top Village of Erice

Italia Summer 2007-- Family, Friends and Food at Alcamo Marina