Monday, July 27, 2009

For Food Obsessed People Only (Just Like Me)

How many times have I started my posts talking about "a very special dinner"? I bet you can't even count them.
I am sorry, but I really can't help it: food makes my day (and nights too) and the other day I had another of those dinners (lucky, aren't I?) and I have the urge to share!

We had a few friends over as it was my birthday so my husband and I, after fighting over who was going to cook, decided to pretty fairly divide the tasks. He was basically going to be in charge of the entrees while I was going to take care of the appetizers and the side dishes. Dessert, like it often happens at my house, was kindly provided by one of the guests.
I did not complain (for once) because I LOVE appetizers! I could dine on those anytime.

This was my choice for that night.
I decided to have an appetizer buffet for our friends before we were going to sit for the meal, so I toasted some sliced ciabatta bread and prepared a few toppings for it:

- An eggplant and walnut spread
- My "famous" (yeah, right) garbanzo bean and rosemary spread
- Some cherry tomatoes with garlic, basil and olive oil for a traditional bruschetta (PLEASE pronounce it "broos-kaet-ta": there are Italians around here)

Then I made some little spirals with puff pastry and some of that pesto I was telling you about a few days ago that I had frozen. Tasty!

All that went perfectly well with a bottle of chilled Prosecco that some of our friends brought!

Of course I wasn't done yet: I still had my last appetizer to serve when finally people sat at the table. I remembered this very simple dish my friend Michele did at my house in Italy once that I absolutely loved: I very quickly sautéed some baby bay scallops with curry and served them hot, over a fresh baby spinach and spring mix salad.

Then came my husband's turn with his spicy grilled shrimp, the lobster, home made mashed potatoes with fresh spring onion from our garden and stuffed portobello mushrooms.

I felt as stuffed as those mushrooms, by the time dinner was over, but I managed to find some room for the wonderful brownies with mocha icing that our friend Teri especially made for the occasion.

I hope I don't sound like I am showing off when I give you my reports of what I consider a great meals, as that is not the intent. It's just that I feel like we, food lovers or food obsessed as many call us, are not any different than any other group of people who share a passion: have you ever listened to how a couple guys who love football can spend hours talking about this or that player, this or that action in a game? Or how some women can talk forever about that new dress that they saw during the latest shopping day name it! I can talk about food non stop and I know among you, my friends, I will always find a ear that is willing to listen!
Feel free to share your own latest special meal, food discover, or even disappointment! You have a friend in me here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Her Majesty La Pasta: THANK YOU!

Yes, thank you my friends for another great evening in my kitchen. There were a lot of you guys there last night and we had a lot of fun as usual, at least judging from the fact that when I had a look at the clock I saw that we spent 4 hours together and it seemed like it was a much shorter time!
Anyway, this is what we did yesterday and for those who weren't there...YEAH, be jealous: you missed out! ;-)

Her Majesty

Tuesday July 21, 2009


• Penne Pomodoro Fresco e Basilico (Penne with Fresh Tomato and Basil)

• Ruote con Zucchine, Limone e Menta (Wheels with Zucchini, Lemon and Mint)

• Tagliatelle con Salsa di Noci (homemade Tagliatelle with Walnut Sauce)

• Fusilli al Pesto

• Linguine Mari e Monti (“Seas and Mountains” Linguine)

• Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Friday, July 10, 2009

Her Majesty LA PASTA!

Don’t you dare to tell an Italian like me that Pasta is a side dish!

For us it simply is “the Queen of the Meal”!

In fact, in Italy pasta is always served by itself and called “primo piatto” (first course), even when it comes after appetizers or is followed by nothing but a salad or fruits, as it often happens for many informal meals!

Would you like to know how I prepare a few of my pasta dishes?
Remember, though: for my family-cooking philosophy the keywords always are simplicity and fresh ingredients!
If you think you might like that, join me in my kitchen for group class and samples

Tuesday, July 21st @ 6:00 pm

You can contact me at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pesto, Made In Texas

People from Liguria (the region in the northwest side of Italy which is Pesto's homeland) are EXTREMELY defensive when it comes to this wonderful sauce.

Yes, basil is the base of it, together with a little garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano (or Pecorino, for some), excellent Olive Oil from that same region.
Still, according to them, not any basil can be used: it has to come from a particular area, a district in the city of Genova named Pra'. The sauce has to be hand made, and by that I mean that no mechanical help is allowed, only mortar and pestle.
And right when you are thinking "Ok, I can put the effort in it. Let me make it in big quantity so that I can save it and enjoy some of this precious sauce later on too..", well that's when you get another dirty look and they roll their eyes at you. You were actually thinking of FREEZING it? Ahahahahah! Foolish thought! Pesto must be prepared and enjoyed right away! Period. No exceptions.

So I already know what you, Marina, are thinking right now about my Texan Pesto.
We tease Marina calling her the "Pesto Taleban" because of her strict intolerance for any exception to the religious pesto rules. ;-)
Yes, Marina, I confess: I made some Texan Pesto and I loved it!

The moment I poured it on the steaming hot pasta, to me it was the best pesto in the world. I was surrounded by that wonderful aroma and I was in heaven!

I did my usual compromises, of course, but not too many. I still picked the fresh basil leaves from my backyard at the very last moment, when they smell at their best. I did use the blender, but did not mince the pine nuts too fine, because I like the rustic feel that they give when left a little coarse.

I cooked my pasta with potato cubes. I did not have any green beans handy, as the tradition would call for, but I did not miss them too much.

Few things in life smell like a fresh homemade Pesto. I can tell you that much.

Nicholas had two generous servings and kept telling me, with his mouth full (such rude son of mine that he is): "This is good, mamma, this is goooooood..."