Friday, October 31, 2008

Philadelphia & The Food I Miss

Having lived in Philadelphia for 32 years I can't help but miss the food now that I'm gone. So I try to go back there at least once a year to catch up with family and friends and to take care of my food cravings. Of course I miss all of the foods Philly is famous for; soft pretzels, cheese steaks, and scrapple; to name a few. But there's other foods I miss: The roast pork and provolone sandwich topped with roasted peppers and broccoli rabe at Bomb Bomb Bar & Grill;
the carrots marinated in balsamic and oregano from Ristorante Pesto
along with their eggplant Parmesan stuffed with spinach;
the mixed wild mushrooms with fontina and toasted breadcrumbs I get at L'Angolo Restaurant
and the cannoli's and cupcakes from Termini's bakery.
There's always new food worth trying:
The fennel soup with garlic croutons, a special the night we were at L'Angolo
the pumpkin gnocchi at Pesto
and the tapas at Bar Ferdinand
All of this and more is what keeps me coming back year after year.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two New Awards...How Exciting

I just received 2 new awards. The first one is the "Premio Arte Pico " award and was given to me by Jo over at The Adventures of Kitchen Girl. Thanks Jo! This is an interesting one that originates from Uruguay and is called the Premio Arte Pico from a blogger who makes dolls. You can visit her site *here*.

The acceptance of Premio Arte Pico has some rules: 1) Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language. 2) Advertise name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone. 3) Each award-winner, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself. 4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico" blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award. 5) Share these rules. I'd like to pass this award on to the following blogs: Reeni at: Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Nazarina at: Giddy Gastronome

Marta at: An Italian in the US

Meeta at: What's for Lunch Honey?

Ivonne at: Cream Puffs in Venice

The second award is the I'm a Chocoholic award given to me by Nazarina at the Giddy Gastronome. I truly am a chocoholic. Thanks Nazarina.

I'd like to pass this award on to The Proud Italian Cook.

Congratulations to everyone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Ok, I'm really not into to sports that much, but my hometown team is in the World Series and I happen to be heading to Philly tomorrow. So, I just had to jump on the bandwagon.
Besides I couldn't resist posting this picture of my cousin and I.

Of course I'm the one stuffing my face; no wonder I'm the Food Hunter today. See you when I get back. Go Phillies!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Recipes and New Friends

We cook so much that's it's really rare when everything on the menu is something new. This weekend turned out to be one of those rare occasions. On top of that our friend Richard, from Berkeley, was coming to dinner with his wife, father-in-law and son; all of whom we've never met. Talk about stress! We started off our meal with two appetizers; Pisto Manchego and Baked Fennel with Prosciutto. I got the Pisto recipe from the new Spain on the Road Again show, starring Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow. The fennel recipe was from Lidia Bastianch's book, "Lidia's Italy." Pisto is a Spanish dish similar to a ratatouille; only it's pureed. It can be served as a side dish, a pasta sauce, a sandwich spread or as we did; on top of toasted garlic bread. It reminded me of a kicked up roasted pepper spread. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it.
The smell of baking fennel throughout the house is a wonderful thing. Add to that the smell of melting Parmesan and toasting prosciutto and you have a real treat for your senses. This was an easy dish to put together and would make a great vegetable side.
My husband and I never seem to do anything the easy way. So when we decided on making lasagna with duck ragu for our entree we just couldn't leave well enough alone. Instead we took the dish one step further and made individual lasagnas. I know it sounds insane...why go through all that. But it actually wasn't that difficult and the end result was such a treat.
We made a batch of semolina pasta dough. Rolled out extra thin sheets and cut them into 6 inch squares. We used Mario Batali's recipe for Duck Ragu as the filling along with some ricotta and Parmesan cheese. We did alternating layers of meat and cheese; topped off with an extra dollop of both.
Dessert, mmmm dessert. I made a Chocolate Tangerine Semifreddo, that I found in Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano book. It was good, very rich but good. The sprinkling of salted pistachio's over the top really helped balance out the intense chocolate flavor. I'm not sure I would make this recipe again. Although, I'm a chocolate lover I think this was just a little too rich for my liking.
I'm glad to report that everything turned out great. We now have some new recipes to add to the arsenal and some really nice new friends.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday Night; Dinner with Friends

Saturday night we had dinner at Rubee and E's house. Rubee made a delicious meal comprised of several recipes from Chef Mario Batali.
The appetizer was Prosciutto San Daniele with Black Pepper Fett'unta and Winesap Apple Marmellata (adapted from Babbo cookbook pg. 93)
The pasta course was Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Hot Pepper, Roasted Tomatoes, and Bottarga (also from Babbo, p. 147)
The main dish was grilled steak and Stuffed, Marinated Portabella mushrooms (adapted from 1998 Gourmet magazine)
I brought dessert; Obsessive Ricotta Cheesecake (adapted from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano)
Obsessive Ricotta Cheesecake For the crust:
3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups(30 ounces) fresh whole-milk ricotta
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange rind(optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied lemon rind or candied citron(optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Lightly grease a 9" springform pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray, dust it with flour, and tap to knock out the excess.
To make the crust:
Place the almonds, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg yolk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add the liquids to the nut mixture and pulse several times to moisten and combine the ingredients thoroughly. The mixture should come together easily between your fingers when pinched.
To form the crust, press the mixture onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the springform pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up the crust, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Remove the pan for the oven and allow the crust to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the filling:
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and salt on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta and beat until the mixture is smooth and light, another 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the vanilla extract, amaretto, and cornstarch. Fold in the candied fruits, if desired, with the spatula.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust, smoothing the top with the spatula. Bake the cheesecake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center is set; it should be jiggly but not liquid. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Chill the cooled cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving; it is best served fully chilled on the following day. To serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and cut the cheesecake into wedges with a long, thin-bladed knife. Any leftover cake should be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.