The oven at my BF house sucks. I think I have expressed this unfortunately dilemma before. So when it comes to baking, I cross my fingers and hope it comes out alright due to the uneven heat distribution. That said, these cookies came out of the oven completely flat…blended all together like one big pancake. I almost tossed them…that is until I tasted them…Mmmm. So if the same thing should happen to you, don’t fret. They are still very tasty and the pics came out so good I may have accidentally created the new flat square cookie craze… :)
A perfect way to use your very soft ripe avocados, not to mention a deliciously spicy way to eat them! Pour this raw dressing over just about anything you like really. You will be very happy you did… Perfect for salads, steamed vegetables, grains, seaweed, baked potatoes, beans…Mmmm Mmmm
Oh and if you happen to be one of those people who hate cilantro (I cry at even the thought of hating cilantro. I am a huge lover of the herb) use a combo of mostly parsley some basil, and a few leaves of mint.
I promise you won’t miss the ham hock in this deeply satisfying soup. Remember to soak the spilt peas overnight or, if you wake up craving this soup, soak them first thing in the morning so they will soak all day and you can make the soup for dinner! Soaking makes the beans cook faster and some say, makes them less gassy. Well, ahem, you be the judge of that. :) I also love to make this soup using yellow spilt peas. They add a lovely brightness to your meal in the wintertime but I only had green on hand so…yep…still as yummy!
I woke up this crisp September Sunday morning with the feeling of Fall. A slight chill in the air. Mist along the west coast. Mmmmm. I LOVE these morning’s. Especially here in Cali, where the weather of the season’s seem to always blend together. Finally, a change! YAY! Gonna embrace this new day in all it’s glory. Enjoy it while it lasts. Stay cozy for as long as I can. And that means, makin’ one of my most beloved dishes…SOUP! Woooooooo hooooooo. Yes, I am really THAT excited to make some yummy homemade soup! And, yes, I am the type of gal that fantasizes about makin’ it in the last long hot days of summer…just sayin’…
Soooooooo stay in your warm comfy PJ’s, put on some holiday music (I know it’s very early in the season for some holiday cheer but, I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve been know to rock out in the kitchen to those fab festive jams while makin’ me soup as soon as it gets chilly outside…:) ). And be sure to call some friends and invite them over for a delish homemade Sunday Soup Supper! Just ask them to bring a baguette and a bottle of wine and you got a wonderful din din…
The tale of how Bad Ass Aria, never takes no for an answer, when it comes to reaching a Roma Lover. Well let me back up, let me start by saying, I got my train to Roma. Finally. It was quite an ordeal to get here. On the train that is. I have been challenged with an insane transition back into the real world from my peaceful countryside retreat in Noci. Away from food, wine, espresso, drama, computers, phones, language barriers, crowds of people, obstacles….Ahhhhhhhhh….
So…this is what happened…
The train station is in Bari, about an hour away from Noci. The van dropped me off, with 40 minutes to purchase my ticket, get some water, relax and slowly meander onto the train. I went to the self-serve computer to purchase my ticket but was having trouble. Hmmmmm, what was the problem…. well…the problem was the train seemed to be… sold out. Huh? SOLD OUT?? WTF?
My anxiety immediately started to build. I didn’t even think to buy my ticket in blissed out Noci.! Huh. Okay, pull yaself together. Talk to the authorities. So, I stood in the long ass line to talk to the Italian ticket guy. My turn comes, 25 minutes later. ‘I gotta get on that train. To Roma now.’ I demand. Not only does this guy not speak any English, he didn’t seem to give a shit and he just kept shaking his head, NO.
Well, mister grumpy Italia, I am not gonna take NO for an answer. My lack of speaking this beautiful language will not stop me either from convincing whom ever I need to convince that I gotta get on that f-ing train!!!
My cooking school has ended and now I have a few free days before I go back to Roma to meet my sister who will be joining me for the last two weeks of my Italian journey. Hmmmmmmm…what do I wanna do after a decadent week of abundant food and wine and socializing and lack of sleep…how about a silent retreat and f-ing cleanse! Ha.
I was looking on line at a bunch of different towns and hotels and then, after many searches, I found it: Abate Masseria Resort in the town of Noci. This place sung to me through the computer. I asked Silvestro what he thought about Noci (which means Walnut in Italian) and he said, “Noci? Why would you want to go there? It’s a farm town in the countryside and there is nothing to do.” Perfecto. That’s exactly what I want. Nowhere to be, nothing to see, no one around, no espresso, no wine, not a lot of food, just the sound of birds singing, wind blowing, farmers working, ahhhhhhh… bliss. So I took the train from Lecce north to a town called Bari, got into a cab and drove 45 minutes into the mountains, arriving at Abate Masseria Resort in peaceful Noci.
Lets be honest, I am not gonna be eating shellfish when I get back home and if I wasn’t here in Lecce I would not be eating all these ‘shit’ eaters at all. Well…that is what they are! And, as you know, while I AM here, I say… f-it! But I gotta admit, it’s been a wee bit challenging for me. But, I’m doing the best I can with embracing the all the many crustacean meals we are making. And we do seem to be making a lot of them. I mean, we are along the Adriatic Sea and all, where the water is clear and blue and beautiful. It surely looks clean but as we all know, looks can be deceiving so while I am here, it’s better not ta ask or investigate if the Sea is, in fact, clean so….F-it!
Today was an easy peassy fish soup that surprisingly didn’t taste too fishy or was too stinky. Which is kinda surprising cause it’s clams, shrimp, mussels, scampi and cod fish in a pot with white wine, tomatoes, garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped parsley, basil and mint. It’s very quick to make. The soup takes, at most, about 8 minutes from start to finish. Thank god for the bread today cause I basically dipped it in the soupy part, avoiding the ‘shit’ eaters as much as I could…
Yes, friends, this is almost it. The Awaiting Table is coming to an end. It’s been so lovely but, I gotta tell ya, I am f-ing filled to the brim with food and wine. I need to stop f-ing eating and drinking! Ahhhhh… 1 dinner and 1 lunch to go…I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…okay…twist my arm…. :)
The temperature keeps rising here so we wanted to create the least amount of heat in the kitchen while making dinner. That was the plan anyway. But as you know, plans don’t always go as planned. Somehow I volunteered to make the eggplant over the hot stove. The dish shoulda been called eggplant with essence of Aria from all the sweat I dripped making them. And right next to me, Ted was sweating a big pan of yellow bell peppers and next to him Giuseppe was sautéing a pot of string beans…I mean…come on guys! This was probably the MOST heat we made in the kitchen!
The only thing that wasn’t creating any heat was a classic Leccese dish. It’s basically a bread salad with fresh vegetables. The difference is that they use a local dense hard bread to do it called, Frise Integrali. It’s cooked like a biscotti so it’s very hard and the only way they eat it is by soaking it in water to rehydrate it and then eat/use in recipes when soft. Am I the only one who finds that strange? I mean, why not just keep it soft in the first place? Well, I asked of course, and Silverstro informed me that this particular type of bread has been around for years and originally was eaten by field workers and those who travelled long distances because it doesn’t spoil. So they would pack the hard bread in their bag and when they got hungry travelling along the countryside, or working in the fields, they would forage some wild onions and tomatoes, what ever they could find and soak the hard bread in the fresh stream until soft and managia (that’s eat in Italian)! Well, I’ve tried it both ways and personally, I like it better crunchy. But then again, I’m American, so what do I know… :)
If my life in Italy wasn’t envious enough for you… and me for that matter …I’m gonna break down my days here in Lecce. Around 10am we all meet at the café for our morning espresso drink of our individual choosing. I first started out with an Americano but since it is so freaking hot here I have moved onto the iced espresso with the almond milk I talked about in my previous post. Oh and since I am being so honest with you all, I must admit, my one shot of espresso has moved onto two! It’s a pretty molto bene way to start the day, I gotta say.
So, after we all slowly enjoy each other’s company mixed with the gentle kick from the caffeine, we walk down the road to the famers market and buy all of our fresh produce and ingredients for lunch and dinner. After shopping we walk back to school in the hot summer sun and start our prep to cook lunch. Also, if we are making pasta, we will make 2 different shapes and we’ll enjoy one shape for lunch and the other for dinner.
This is the first time in a long time I have enjoyed eating pasta. It’s fresh and dense and chewy and light and hearty all the same time so less is more, which means you don’t need to eat a mound of it to feel nourished and get satisfied. And since it’s a blend of unprocessed whole grain barley and semolina flours, it gives it tons of fiber, which makes for lovely regularity for this traveler. Sorry…I’m just saying…
Ummmm…before I mention what we prepared, I just want to give a shout out to a very special particular G Monkie who informed me that I am the first and only one blogging on this site who is writing about non-vegan dishes. Thank you for allowing me to share my non-vegan ways!
Well, I am here. In Lecce. The most quaint, glorious, Italian town I have ever experienced. Yes, I know this is the first time I have ever been to this country but I am still gonna stand by a statement like that. Lecce is everything I ever fanaticized an Italian town, along the coast would be. The friendly locals, the simple and rustic cuisine, the landscape, the vino and the…the…the (forbidden) ESPRESSO! Yep, my friends you read that right, I said it. I am proudly drinking it. It’s some good shit. I must say. I have missed you my espresso!
The espresso over here is totally different than in the states. Even the imported stuff doesn’t compare. I was talking to a local today about that and she says it has to do with the water here, which is loaded minerals and especially has lots of Iron. She says it balances the acidity in the espresso. And boy oh boy does it ever. Yum. Smooth, bitter, perfectly astringent and most importantly, it hasn’t given me the crazy cracked out feeling that I often get when I drink the stuff back home. This espresso just a nice little kick. A warm Italian embrace to get your day started out right. And while I am here in Lecce, or in Italy for that matter, I do believe I am gonna get into it. Well…I guess I already have.
Now, I am not really a hard alcohol drinker, I would say I am more of a lover of wines. But when I was reading my Bon Appetit magazine a few years ago, I came across this recipe and couldn’t pass it up. I mean, chocolate liqueur. Damn. Yum! And it also makes a wonderful gift. Just be sure to make it about a month ahead of time so the flavors will have time to infuse.
I must admit. I have never done this before. Making my own Vanilla Extract that is. It’s also only been 3 weeks since it started marinating in its beautiful glass jar. I am not sure how it’s gonna turn out BUT it looks so beautiful we decided we had to share this recipe with everyone. Life is all about the journey…right… :) Jump in and let us know how yours turns out.