potato gratin

Potatoes and cheese just work together, ya know? So, to take a break from our rosemary breakfast potatoes, we decided to try out a simple gratin in order to get our monthly potato fix. The recipe was a bit bland; it needed some spices besides the pepper and salt it called for, and also, more cheese! It only called for cheese on top, which wasn’t quite enough for the flavor and also because the potatoes fell apart into a big potato mess when we tried to serve it.

Therefore . . . no picture . . . instead, also new this week, cinnamon apple muffins with eggs for Sunday morning brunch!

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cauliflower fritters

cauliflowerfrittersThis week in our quest for new recipes: Cauliflower fritters

Nothing too fancy – steamed then chopped cauliflower mixed with egg, flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper and oregano, and then fried on the stove for about 5 minutes per side. We enjoyed them with spicy black beans. The flavors of the dishes weren’t perfect together. Instead we imagine the fritters would have gone nicely more as an appetizer with a yogurt sauce, and the black beans would have been more fun for a southwest themed dinner with rice, avocado, and fresh salsa. But they left us full, happy, and we made enough to enjoy them as leftovers the next day, always a plus!

 

welcome to a new year

Somehow January is already more than half way over, but I can still wish you all a happy new year! And in light of newness and looking forward to 2015, I decided it was time for a new look and one food themed resolution. The resolution put simply: we will make one new dish each week.

The details: the dish cannot be a version of something we always make with just a tweak; for example our vegetable and rice stir fry with different vegetables or Luigi’s wonderful piadina but with different fillings. Instead, the dish has to be something different and more interesting, using seasonal produce as much as possible and it also counts if it is a new attempt to a previously failed recipe.

So far we have stuck to it. We’ve had cheesy baked cabbage by Luigi, homemade margherita pizza with rucola, butternut squash lasagne, and for a breakfast take on our plan: beer bread and almond raisin granola.

And to start off the third full week of January right, tonight we are making cauliflower fritters with black beans.

With this new plan, my posts will become simpler – time doesn’t allow lengthy posts even once a week, and honestly, aren’t we all a little overwhelmed with the millions of food blogs out there? I will instead use this as a way to share my little food stories with my friends and family both near and far.

So welcome to a new take on my eating dilemmas and happy 2015!

A Thanksgiving feast

We survived Thanksgiving! After two days of practically living in the kitchen, Luigi and I pulled off a huge feast for our friends! From our kitchen came all of the classics: mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, applesauce, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

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The squash before it was chopped, baked and blended for pumpkin pie

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The potato master

And of course, the biggest part of all . . . the turkey!

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Isn’t she a beauty? Yes, it’s a she because the male turkeys weigh about 39 pounds and would definitely not fit in the oven! Ours instead was 7.5 kilograms . . . errr . . . 16 pounds and quite an experience to cook. From the small size of the oven to the equally small size of the pan, from basting without a baster to the unexpectedly short cooking time, from the “is it done yet?” debate to the final carving; every step was a new one for us and honestly, it was all a bit nerve-wracking.

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But we did it and we had a blast!

And with 18 guests heading our way, all of whom brought wonderful dishes of their own – vegetable tort, pesto focaccia, grilled vegetables, green beans – we had more than enough to feed the crowd for dinner. And for dessert, it was pies pies pies! Pumpkin pies, apple pie and Boston cream pie . . . plus leftovers for the traditional morning-after pie breakfast!

Okay, so it wasn’t all perfect, when it came to the actual eating part, we really had to squeeze at the table, and some people had to keep their plates in their laps, but isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Being smashed together with people you care for? I think so, and by the end of the evening, I was feeling quite thankful for Luigi, Maria, all of our guests and of course, my family who I miss so much and who taught me the ropes to a successful Thanksgiving feast!

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A test for Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is on it’s way – the turkey is ordered, the roasting pan purchased, recipes found and the guests given their marching orders. However, this weekend, we still had to try out a couple recipes. First, an apple pie in order to test out the infamous vodka pie crust and second, dried cranberry sauce. Both were delicious and made me a little less nervous about the 20+ heading our way next Sunday!

 

 

Hot, travelin’ summer to rainy, cozy Fall

Oh mamma mia, it’s been months! I understand how the summer slipped away from me, a long month working at the seaside, a lovely vacation to Greece. But now it’s suddenly November and we’re planning Thanksgiving. How did that happen?

So where was I these past months? In August, we spent time at the sea with Luigi’s family before we ate our way through Crete, a welcomed cuisine after a lot of trofie in July.

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In September, we prepared for fall, although it didn’t really come in full force, and on the 19th we celebrated Maria and Max’s wedding! Can I get a witness? . . . that song was in my head for weeks leading up to the big day. Also, cake was on my mind . . . chocolate pear cake and spiced cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Yes, Luigi and I are now professional wedding cake bakers.

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October flew by for me and ended on a difficult note that had me unexpectedly quit my job after nearly two years working with the same little girls.

But on to new opportunities and of course, more time in the kitchen. Our house has been full of baked cinnamon apples, hearty soups and of course, plenty of squash! A little taste of our Autumn eats . . . apple and sage chicken . . .

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And now here we are, almost to the middle of November, it’s pouring rain and Thanksgiving is on my mind. So how does one do Thanksgiving here? Fresh cranberries? Nope. Canned pumpkin or even pie pumpkins? Nope. Turkey? YES. Phew, turkey does exist!

Alright, so the menu isn’t so difficult, but for now we’re cooking for around 20 and a little voice in the back of my mind is saying, “PANIC!” But I’m still going to power through it . . . and you’ll just have to wait and see if Paula can pull off an Italian Thanksgiving!

Until then, I’m off to enjoy some kale squash soup!

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Hello to summer!

This weekend was my last before I head to the seaside with my girls until the end of July. I will have one or two free weekends but besides that, I will be in full-time nanny mode.

We had a nice relaxing weekend to start out the summer season. It began with Italy’s disastrous game against Costa Rica, then a hike in the hills near Lago d’Iseo, an evening out with friends at a city festival, and we finished up with a lazy Sunday brunch.

Not much cooking happened on my end. Friday, Luigi whipped out his famous vegetable tort which has become the only way I will happily consume zucchini.

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And last night, we enjoyed a strawberry and chicken salad before heading out for the evening…

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The fresh berries with grilled chicken and a simple balsamic and olive oil dressing made for a warm welcome to summer!

And now, I’m off to Santa Margherita and will be out of touch for the next several weeks!

Enjoy the summer eats everybody!