Saturday, May 31, 2008

3 Top Kitchen Gadgets

I don't like to clutter up my kitchen with a lot of machines and gadgets. How much are you really going to use a bread machine or a food dehydrater? I guess there may be some out there who use these type of items regularly, but chances are that most people don't. They end up becoming dust catchers, or taking up valuable space in a small kitchen.

Here are 3 of my favorite kitchen gadgets that are worth having around:
  1. Oxo Mango Pitter. As far as I know, this is a Williams Sonoma exclusive, where you can find it online or in the stores for $13. Mangos are one of the most difficult fruits from which to remove the pit, and serve; however, with the Oxo Mango Pitter it's easy to remove the seed and enjoy the mango. Once you remove the pit, just score the fruit and easily peel it away from the skin for a beautiful, and tasty, presentation. Mango can be used in a variety of ways: on a fruit plate, mixed with peppers, onion, and cilantro for a nice tropical salsa that is great for grilled fish. You can also make mango chutney. Click here for mango recipes.

  2. Kitchen Collection Nonstick Chopper and Scooper at $2.99 it's one of the least expensive gadgets that you will use nearly daily. Use it to scrape up dough, pick up things that you've chopped, slice, and more. It's an essential item for your kitchen.Kitchen Collection Nonstick Chopper and Scooper

  3. OXO International Garlic Press. This is easy to use and self- cleaning. It's indispensible in the kitchen. We tend to use garlic in many dishes, and crushing it with a garlic press makes a nice paste that is flavorful and does not leave large pieces of garlic in the food. If you don't have one, this garlic press is a must.
    OXO International Garlic Press

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shortbread Cookies Recipe

One of my favorite afternoon treats with a spot of tea, is shortbread cookies. They are delicate and crisp, and just barely sweet. Shortbread cookies are good with berries or other fruits on the side for a nice, light dessert, too.

Although these cookies are a traditional Christmas cookie, they are good year round for snacks or desserts. They are easy to make, and require few ingredients. You probably have all the ingredients on your shelf.
They are surprisingly easy to make, and should be in the repetroire of all bakers and non-bakers out there. Here is an easy shortbread cookies recipe that you'll want to make over and over again.

Shortbread Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioners or icing)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Whisk the flour with the salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter until smooth with an electric mixer (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract, then stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with the rack in the middle of the oven.
  4. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds or whatever shape you prefer using lightly floured cookie cutters. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.
  6. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown. Cool on rack.

Shortbread keeps best in an airtight container for about a week or frozen for several months.
Makes about 20 shortbread cookies.

You can play with the texture of shortbread, too. You can change it by replacing 1/4 cup of the flour with rice flour, which will give them a somewhat crunchy texture. If you prefer a more delicate tasting shortbread with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, replace 1/2 cup of the flour with cornstarch (corn flour).

Shortbreads can be cut into various shapes using your favorite cookie cutter, or baked in a tart pan. For more variations, sprinkle the baked cookies with granulated white sugar or dip the ends of the shortbread in melted chocolate.

The secret to good shortbread is to use a good quality unsalted butter (look for Grade AA or A) and pure vanilla extract. The best pure vanilla extract that I have found, although it is quite expensive, is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. It can be found in specialty food stores and online. Just don't use those labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tres Leches Cake Recipe

Living in Miami, we have come to enjoy the Latin American favorite dessert, Tres Leche Cake. My friend Ana, who is from Venezuela, gave me this Tres Leche cake recipe, and we have enjoyed it over the years for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.

If you want to try a taste of Miami, try this cake:

Tres Leche Cake
5 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.

  2. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.

  3. Cream butter and 1 cup of sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract, beat well.

  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter or margarine mixture a little at a time, mix until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

  5. Bake cake layer at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pierce cake all over with a fork or skewer. Allow cake to cool.

  6. Combine the whole milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and almond extract together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.

  7. Whip the heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup of the sugar together until quite thick. Spread over the top of cake, and refridgerate until ready to serve.

Angel Food Cake Recipes

Angel food cake is low-fat, and can be enjoyed by nearly everyone - even if you are on a summer weight loss diet. There are many different ways to enjoy angel food cake: just by itself, garnished with fresh fruits, or with variations of chocolate or citus flavors.

I found a treasure trove of angel food cake recipes at a new site called They appear to have a large collection of many types of recipes, and I can't wait to try more of the angel food cake recipes like the decadent Cappuccino Angel Food Cake With Italian Meringue which has only 88 calories per serving! Even less, if you make it with Splenda.....

Moist Banana Bread Recipe

Banana bread makes a great afternoon treat with tea, or quick breakfast. There are several good recipes that make a moist and delicious banana bread that is quite nutritious, too. The addition of walnuts and other wholesome ingredients can make the difference between a dry, stale bread and an enjoyable moist banana bread that's good for you, too.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for moist banana bread:

Banana Bread
3/4 cup sifted flour
1 cup quick oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, unsalted
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten (or egg substitute)
1 cup mashed banana (2-3 bananas)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir in oats.
  3. Cream the butter, then add the sugar gradually and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well.
  4. Add the flour mixture alternately with the bananas, a little at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth. Stir in walnuts.
  5. Turn into a well-greased bread pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 inches) and bake about 70 minutes or until golden brown.


  1. Add one cup seedless, golden raisins to the batter
  2. Add one cup finely chopped dates to the batter

This is a moist and delicious, easy to prepare banana bread recipe you will use over and over. Enjoy!

Recipe for Pulled Pork

Several people have asked me recently for a recipe for pulled pork. Pulled pork is a traditional southern United States favorite, and their are as many recipes out there for it as there are pulled pork fans.

Here is a recipe for pulled pork that is not only easy to prepare, but tasty too. Try it for yourself:

Recipe for Pulled Pork

1 4 pound boneless pork shoulder
4 tablespoons kosher or coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika (I use the Szeged Hungarian Paprika)
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 buns or hard rolls

Put the pork shoulder, fat side up, in a roasting pan on a rack insert. Pulse the salt, pepper, brown sugar, paprika, thyme leaves, garlic, vinegar, and cayenne in a food processor until well combined. Add extra-virgin olive oil and pulse the mixture becomes a paste. Rub the spice paste all over the pork. Cover the pork let rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Bring the pork to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and roast the pork for about 3 1/2 hours, uncovered, until the outside is crispy and brown. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

To serve the pulled pork, cut the buns in half and pile on some pork. Top with a large spoonful of coleslaw if desired, and place the top half of the bun on top.

Memorial Day Picnic

We've been planning our Memorial Day picnic for several days now. Several friends are coming spend the day at the beach, and the weather should be great!

The menu will include grilled lamb chops and kabob. On the side we'll have a nice potato salad, green bean and feta salad, and sliced fresh tomatoes. For dessert, strawberry shortcake with homemade vanilla ice cream - what a treat! We'll wash it all down with lemonade, beer, and red wine.

Here's the recipe for the potato salad:

Herbed Potato Salad

3 pounds small red potatoes
Coarse salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but firm. Drain the potatoes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the wine vinegar, garlic, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters. Put the cut potatoes in a large bowl and moisten with some dressing. Add the green onion, tarragon, dill and parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add more dressing to moisten and stir in the 1/2 cup mayonnaise. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake

This time of year fresh strawberries are plentiful, and what a treat! I love strawberries just on their own, or dipped in Nutella. However, for a wonderful dessert take the time to make delicious shortcakes, a tradition in my family for many generations.

Here's my Great-Grandmother's strawberry shortcake recipe. I know you're going to like it:

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

Six servings

4 1/2 cups strawberries
1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup water, at room temperature

  1. Wash, drain and stem strawberries.
  2. Slice strawberries and sweeten with the 1/2 cup sugar, stirring to create juice. Set aside
For the shortcake

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture until the mixtur has a coarse, mealy consistency.
  4. Stir together whipping cream and water. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring just enough to moisten
  5. Drop dough by heaping tablespoon on an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart
  6. Bake for between 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool
To serve: top shortcake with strawberries; garnish with sweeten whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe

Yesterday morning I met a colleague at a small cafe off Lincoln Road to collaborate on a project. (I'm not naming the cafe due to the poor experience we had there.)

My colleague ordered a cappuccino and chocolate croissant. I had a hot tea and a slice of their sour cream coffee cake (a big favorite of mine). The cappuccino was quite large and served piping hot with just the right amount of foam on top. The croissant was adequate. My tea had a very strange medicinal taste, and I'm certain they do not use filtered water (a must here on Miami Beach as our water has a foul taste). The coffee cake was stale and so dry that I could barely swallow it. This was not the sour cream coffee cake of my childhood!

My Grandmother was a wonderful cook, and her sour cream coffee cake was one of the family favorites. After such a disappointing experience, I had to come home and make my own to satisfy my need for a nice, moist coffee cake. Here is my grandmother's recipe. I hope you will try it and let me know if you like it, too.

My Grandmother's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar, or 1/4 cup each
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated
3 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F if using a glass pan). Grease one 9-inch Bundt or tube pan, and dust with flour.

2. To make the streusel: Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

3. To make the batter: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest. Gradually stir in the flour mixture.

4. Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Carefully cover with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining streusel.

5. Bake unitl the coffee cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 minutes. Place on a rack and let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap the coffee cake in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

6. To make the glaze: Combine all the glaze ingredients, stirring until smooth and of pouring consistency. Drizzle over the cake and let stand until set.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Baked Chicken Recipes

You can never have enough baked chicken recipes in your repertoire. Chicken is a great low-fat source of high quality protein, and easy to prepare. Yesterday I had some family members over for a Sunday lunch. As an avid user of I was anxious to try a new baked chicken breast recipe that I found there, Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika.

This recipe was so easy to prepare. It took about 5 minutes to get it into the oven, then 20 minutes total baking time. It was a cinch. I served a nice green salad and basmati rice on the side. Since everyone was going back and forth to the beach, it was a great light lunch that we all enjoyed without a lot of fuss.

The fresh cherry tomatoes are a must. Don't substitute canned tomatoes here. Also, try to find the smoked paprika, if you don't already have it in your pantry. It is the ingredient that makes this dish POP. My source in Miami for smoked paprika is Delicias de Espana in South Miami. They also have an online store. Another good online source for authentic Spanish foods direct from Spain is La Tienda.

Don't be afraid to try new ingredients and foods from other cultures.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant Key Lime Pie Recipe

We had the opportunity to enjoy another wonderful meal at the famous Joe's Stone Crab restaurant in South Beach. Joe's is one of those old time, elegant venues with a professional wait staff that anticipates your every need.

Of course their specialty is seafood, and it is fresh and delicious, but they also serve chicken, very good steaks, and lamb. I had the Mahi-Mahi grilled with pepper-lime butter, with lobster toast and peppadew oil. My husband enjoyed the Grouper served over a shrimp and white bean stew. For side dishes we chose our favorite grilled tomatoes, and the steamed asparagus. And of course a nice bottle of Chardonnay from New Zealand. It was a memorable feast.

Joe's dessert menu never disappoints. Our favorites are the Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae, or the fabulous Key Lime Pie. Here's the recipe direct from Joe's for the Key Lime Pie:

Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant Key Lime Pie

Source: Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, Florida

Graham Cracker Crust
1 wax paper wrapped package graham crackers,1/3 of a
1 pound box, or 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons graham
crackers crumbs
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks
Grated zest of 2 limes (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (if you can get Key
limes use those but regular limes will do)

I cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan.

Break up into crumbs in food processor or place crackers in a large plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add melted butter and sugar and stir. Press crumb mixture into pan forming a neat border around the edge. Bake until set and golden, about 8 minutes, and set aside. Keep oven on.

For the filling: In an electric mixer with a wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes, Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes or until filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate, Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

For the topping: Whip the cream and confectioners sugar until nearly stiff. Cut the pie into wedges and serve very cold. Top each wedge with dollop of whipped cream.

If you can't make it to Miami Beach, Joe's also has locations in Las Vegas and Chicago. It's well worth a try. You're going to love it!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Sushi Lunch

Today it was sushi for lunch with the girls. A couple of friends met me at our favorite sushi restaurant, Sushi Republic. It's a nice quiet little place in Surfside (north beach area). Everything was great!

We started with Edamame, lightly salted boiled green soy beans, and Wakame, seaweed salad. Then we shared a a beautiful boat of sushi.
As usual, everything was superb. The fish was fresh, with a nice clean taste, as it should be. The service was excellent, and everyone enjoyed the experience.

If you are unfamiliar with sushi, and other elements of Japanese cuisine, you may be interested to know:

  1. Technically, the word sushi refers to the rice (the Japanese word su means vinegar, and shi is from meshi, the Japanese word for rice, hence sushi is 'vinegared rice'), but colloquially, the term is used to describe a finger-size piece of raw fish or shellfish on a bed of rice or simply the consumption or raw fish in the Japanese style (while sushi is not solely a Japanese invention, these days, the Japanese style is considered the de facto serving standard). The sushi can be eaten as is, or is often first dipped into shoyu (Japanese soy sauce).
  2. Great care is taken in the creation of every dish and the many methods of preparing Japanese food indicates the importance of appearance to the educated consumer. Sushi is a work of art as much as a food.
  3. Sashimi is raw fish served sliced, but as-is. That means no bed of rice or roll. It is often served alongside daikon and/or shiso. This is my favorite style as you really get the flavor of the fish.
  4. Sashimi is often cut in different ways to enhance the appearance of the fish. Hira zukuri is the standard rectangular shape cut. A thinner cut is called Ito zukuri, and is often no more than 1/16 inch thick. The thinnest, called Kaku zukuri is paper-thin and is often presented in a pattern.
  5. Depending on what you ordered and the whim of the chef, you might see other items on the plate such as wasabi (the hot green Japanese horseradish-like rhizome), gari (pickled ginger, which comes in both a pink and a light tan color, with the lighter stuff usually indicating better quality). You may also see a large green leaf called shiso, which is often served with sashimi, and a shredded white mass of Japanese radish called daikon, which is also often served with sashimi.
If you are in the neighborhood, give Sushi Republic a try. We find it to be one of the best sushi restaurants in the South Florida area: 9583 Harding Ave, Surfside, FL 33154, Phone: (305) 867-8036.

Let me know if you liked it!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Italian Regional Cuisine - Tuscany

Tuscany is arguably the most well known region in Italy. Movies and novels have captured its romantic rural landscape: golden hills planted with grapes and olives, dotted with stone farmhouses and pencil-thin cypress trees.

I had the pleasure of vacationing there recently and it was everything I expected and much more. Tuscany is a rare center of art and culture whose native sons shook up Renaissance art and architecture and whose literary works planted the seeds of the Italian language. Over the centuries, the region has developed a balance between its rustic lifestyle and its urban appeal.

What Tuscans eat today is remarkably unchanged from the meals of decades and even centuries ago. White beans, slow-cooked in a flask or simmered in thick ribollita soup, are so central to the cuisine that they have earned Tuscans the moniker mangiafagioli (bean eaters). Fresh leafy greens, such as Tuscan kale, and fresh herbs including thyme, rosemary and fennel add a distinctly local flavor to soups and crostini. Grilled meats are a revered treat, especially the much loved bistecca alla fiorentina, a two-pound T-bone steak quickly charred over a wood-burning flame, then doused with olive oil infused with rosemary and garlic.

Pork roasts and chops are also common, as are the famous pork sausages flavored with fennel (finocchiona) and melt-in-your-mouth herb-encrusted lardo (cured pork fatback).

Tuscan cuisine, unlike most other regions of Italy, includes lots of chicken. Pan-fried or stewed, or made into rich chicken liver crostini, it is used extensively. The saltless Tuscan style bread can come as a shock, but the locals insist that it pairs perfectly with salty wheels of pecorino, artisanal prosciutto and zesty green olive oil, all washed down with plentiful amounts of red wine. Along the region's coastal areas, seafood dishes like the fish stew, cacciucco alla livornese, are also typical for the region.

As for pasta, the pappardelle with meat ragu, also known as Bolognese sauce, is highly recommended. Pappardelle is a tasty, wide egg noodle that holds the sauce well. Penne is also used with a ragu as well. Here is one of my favorite Bolgnese sauce recipes that I learned while staying in Pisa:

Pappardelle Pasta

Ragu Bolognese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, run through the medium holes of the butcher's grinder
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pappardelle pasta

In a 6 to 8 quart heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until the vegetables are translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, pork and pancetta, increase heat to medium high, and brown the meat, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, thyme, and parsley and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Season the ragu to taste with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool if not using immediately. (Refrigerate the ragu for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month).

Cook the pappardelle pasta as directed. Toss the cooked pasta with the ragu and serve. Garnish with cheese if you like.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why Food?

Let's face it - food is one of the most important things in our lives. Food not only nourishes, but also gives us pleasure. I love everything about food. Reading about food, preparing and cooking food, and of course eating it!

I plan to share my love of food with every post. I'll review restaurants when I travel. I'll tell you about what I'm preparing in my own kitchen. I'll give you menu suggestions, and much more including recipes, too.

About a year ago, we had the opportunity to travel to Italy. What a trip for a foodie. Unbelieveable extra virgin olive oil, pasta, wine. It was an incredible food adventure.
I'll tell you more about that trip in future posts, but for now here is a recipe for a simple, yet luxurious appetizer that we enjoyed in Rome. Enjoy Bruschetta with a nice glass of Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2006, a lovely red wine from the Piedmont region of Italy.

Bruschetta con Pomodoro

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 small ripe but firm tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely diced (roma tomatoes work well)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch thick) slices Italian country bread
2 cloves garlic, halved
Sea salt

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, cayenne, and salt. Set aside for at least 60 minutes to marinate.

Toast the bread in a 400 degree oven until golden; rub each slice of toast with the halved garlic cloves immediately upon removing it from the oven. Drizzle each slice of bread with additional extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Top the bread with the tomato mixture, garnish with leaves of fresh basil and serve.

Bon appetit!

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