It seems that I can’t get too far away from thinking about food and blogging, even if I wanted to. Last Monday, I had a day off from work and I had planned on a rmuch-needed day of rest and relaxation. I was going to read magazines on my iPad, get a mani/pedi, and order some takeout from my favorite Chinese restaurant down the street. I wanted a day away from the blog, which meant no cooking, writing, and taking photos. I even banned myself from Pinterest to try to disconnect from anything that might remotely lead me back to the blog.
We Americans often think that bruschetta is the mixture of tomatoes, garlic, and basil on a slice of toasted bread. Bruschetta, from the Italian word bruscare, meaning to toast or burn, actually refers to the thick slices of grilled bread. Often served as a snack or appetizer, bruschetta is traditionally prepared by rubbing the bread with garlic and drizzling it with olive oil before toasting it over hot coals. Then the bread is topped with a simple mixture of tomatoes and fresh herbs. It is an easy way to showcase the excellent quality of freshly-pressed olive oil as well as a way to preserve bread that is beginning to get stale.
I’ve been in a pasta rut lately, but thanks to the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I rediscovered the technique of making a pan sauce to give my tired old pasta a new twist and a boost in flavor. This pan sauce is full of bold color and taste , made with bacon, mushroom, chard, and ricotta. Orecchiette, the oval-shaped pasta from the southern Italian region of Puglia, is a good choice for this dish because its slight bowl shape is perfect for catching the cheesy sauce which has a slight hint of spice from crushed red pepper flakes and nutmeg. The orecchiette’s edges are thicker than it’s center for some added texture. Continue reading
I was first introduced to gnocchi about ten years ago at Salumi, a tiny storefront and deli in Seattle owned by Armandino Batali, Mario’s dad. Salumi sells sandwiches filled with artisanal cured meats made in-house and other Italian foods. Once a week, at a counter in a small nook at the front window, Izzy, Armandino’s older sister, made gnocchi from scratch. She made it look so easy. I would watch in fascination as her weathered hands deftly shaped the little dumplings. She would roll the perfect pieces of dough effortlessly on a gnocchi paddle and flick them right into a sheet pan a few hundred or, maybe, a thousand, times a day. She stood there, mostly silent, yet always smiling, for she knew the secret of making light and tender pillows made of potatoes and flour. Continue reading
Spending the entire day in the kitchen is a luxury I truly relish. It’s my chance to play with food, get creative and have fun. Plus, I find it very therapeutic and a wonderful way to relax and unwind from the stress of the workweek.
Last night, Chinese communities around the world welcomed the Year of the Dragon with festive traditions that were meant to attract good health and prosperity, as well as closer family ties, peace, and harmony in the home. In honor of the Lunar New Year, I made Mongolian Beef, one of the more popular dishes found in Chinese-American restaurants. It is a simple beef dish typically made with flank steak or tenderloin and stir-fried with scallions in a brown sauce containing many ingredients typically found in Chinese cuisine – oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and Chinese cooking wine, also knows as Shao Xing. The name, Mongolian Beef, is misleading because none of the ingredients or the method of preparation are drawn from traditional Mongolian cuisine. Chalk it up to some clever marketing ploy to name this dish in a way that conjures up a “more exotic” type of food. Continue reading