Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mussels, scallops in white wine and frites

We have to admit, although we are tired of watching Bobby Flay throw red and green things in a blender, he does showcase "fun" foods. Despite our complaints about Bobby Flay being a businessman vs an innovative chef, I have to admit that his throwdown for mussels and frites really made us want to cook it at home.

Thursday evening rolled by and I was having a bad day. Michele knows the best way to cheer me up is through in order to stop me from buying a dozen of donuts, he suggested to cook mussels and frites for me the next evening for dinner.

We really love cooking and enjoying a completely relaxed Friday night at home. Michele wanted to be creative so he added scallops to the mussels, and we were in luck- the scallops looked gorgeous at the grocery store that day. We also wanted to add some veggies since we our vacation diet lacked vegetables, so he added yellow and orange peppers as well.

The challenge was making perfect frites. Our pot was overcrowded with sliced potatoes that it took too long to fry, so the frites tasted like it soaked up way too much vegetable oil. But I sprinkled the frites with some salt and cayenne pepper and it was delicious! I think I'm addicted to making homemade fries now!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A little pick me up, Tiramisu

It has been a while since I made Tiramisu, especially because we have not been entertaining guests for a while. The perfect opportunity came to make this desert when it was the day to celebrate our last Italian lesson, and we were each assigned to bring a little bit of food to celebrate this fiesta. My dear friend, cara Gabi, came over and we "assembled" this desert together. I use the word "assemble" because there is no baking involved in this dolce!

Tiramisu is a coffee-based desert, which literally means a little pick me up after a meal.

( Tira= pull, mi = me, su=up)

I guess the "pick me up" comes from both the sugar and the coffee. This simple desert has a lot of variations, but I believe that the simplest version is often the best. It only takes a couple of simple ingredients to make Tiramisu. I personally add a little bit of Grand Marnier to the espresso, and a hint of vanilla extract to the mascaporne, but you can always make it as sweet as you want by adding more or less sugar.

Gabi beating the egg whites

Gabi mixing the mascaporne cheese


Lady fingers, savoiardi, about 3 packs ( 30 ladyfingers)
fresh brewed espresso or coffee ( 5 - 6 shots)
Mascaporne cheese
one - 2 eggs, room temperature, egg yolks and whites separated
good quality cocoa powder
optional: grand marnier and vanilla extract


Make fresh coffee or espresso, stir in about 1- 2 tablespoons of sugar ( depending on how sweet you'd like the coffee), and let it cool to room temperature. Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of grand marnier, if desired. Pour the coffee in a bowl that is easy for dipping the ladyfingers.

In a large bowl, incorporate the mascaporne cheese with 2 tablespoons ( or more) sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Gently mix in the two egg yolks until the yellow color has dissolved, do not over-stir the mascaporne mixture.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer and beat the egg whites until it forms soft peaks. Pour the beaten fluffy egg whites into the mascaporne cheese, and gently fold. The purpose of the egg whites are to soften the creamy mixture and make it even more fluffier, so be careful when folding the egg whites, allowing it to make the mixture light and creamy.

Next steps are to layer the tiramisu.

Using a large serving dish or baking tray, gently dip the ladyfingers in the espresso and evenly layer it in the serving dish. Spoon on a coat of mascarpone mixture across the layer of the lady fingers, using about 1/2 of the mascarpone mix. (The covering should be about 1cm. thick) Repeat this process by dipping another layer of savoiardi in the espresso, and overlay them on the mascarpone mix. Add the final mascaporne mixture as the top cream layer, and smoothen it out. The last step is to sift with good cocoa powder, cover and refrigerate.

It is essential to let this sit in the refrigerator for several hours ( 4 - 6 hours at least) before serving.

Buon Appetito, and I hope everyone enjoyed the tiramisu!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

veggie bow tie fusion pasta

Bow ties are one of my favorite pastas. They are just a little al dente in the center, a nice and chewy texture and it's so fun using your fork to pick at the little bow ties. They are just so interactive and pretty to eat!

Staying true to the Spaghettofu essence, here I created a fusion pasta with edamame, tofu, cherry tomatoes and red chili flakes. It's just like making a simple arrabbiata pasta with cherry tomatoes, ( recipe here in my older post) but adding some protein and colors - edamame and tofu.

Enjoy this colorful healthy dish!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A bit of Italy in Texas

An 1 hour and half road trip brought us to Texas Hill Country, where there are a few wineries and vineyards. Honestly it's a hit or miss with Texas vineyard hopping, some were good, some were OK, but all in all, it was fun to enjoy the countryside and sip on reds and whites.

We discovered a bit of Italy at Driftwood, TX, at the Manola Estate Winery, which is a southern Italian-inspired vineyard and winery that is located on the slopes of Onion Creek. The climate here is supposed to echo that in Southern Italy and Sicily, for grape vines to soak up warm sun and cool evening breezes.

The estate is built to to have a Tuscany flair. The look is a bit too fabricated and European replica, ( but what in America isnt!?) but it's still cute. We enjoyed a relaxed afternoon there, had dinner at their overly busy trattoria, and bought some cases of wine home.

Can't wait to open those bottles of reds at our new home, with new Texas friends!

Monday, August 3, 2009

homemade pesto

Once again, amazingly good homemade pesto. This time with a chewier pasta, casarecci, which has become our favorite recently. Pesto is something we'll never get tired of!

Check out the recipe in this post, 2 herb pesto spaghetti