Stay Thin & get all your Omega-3, Iron & More with this Amazing Dish

I’ve missed you guys these past weeks. I had a wonderful time visiting friends and family in the USA and really enjoyed this much need vacation.
As you all know the USA is trying to start a health revolution (well it has been for awhile) but it’s taking sometime to get people on board with it. Even though it has come long ways it still seems that habits are hard to break. And although they are trying to get people to eat more organic and healthy foods they seem to constantly come up with new healthy products that are supposed to replace the unhealthy products, I like to call them ‘healthy junk food’. That’s what it is. Instead of stopping to produce say potato chips, they come up with a healthier potato chip, made with flax seeds, chia seeds, rice flour, bean flour, natural flavorings, etc…it’s still a freaking chip; albeit healthier still a chip. Why not reach for a handful of almonds, or some fresh fruit, or veggies, some yogurt, an egg or even a piece of parmigiano reggiano cheese?! These are healthy, whole and organic replacements to junk foods. I am not saying that those better for you chips aren’t better for you but why do they have to have a whole aisle and a half in a grocery store full of chips. It’s too much!

I am lucky that I have learned early on in life what eating healthy is all about and that here in Italy it’s so easy to do that. Healthy tastes so good! I am one of those people who will always opt to eat something healthy over something that has no nutritional value but may sound good.
For Me, healthy does sound good. I know people often times relate this word ‘healthy’, to boring, tasteless, unworthy, complicated and uninviting. Total opposite for me. I relate it to delicious, flavorful, easy, worth it, inviting with a wonderful array of options and colors.

I love knowing that what I am putting into my body is helping me stay healthy and I’m not putting crap in my body that is actually going to cost me my health, weak bone density, tooth decay, dull and unhealthy hair, wrinkles and ugly skin, GI problems, illnesses, etc….
Eating healthy is a habit but a good one to form. I have wrote about Healthy Eating habits and the wonderful effects it as on your body from weight-loss to feeling fantastic and how to do it here and here.

This next recipe is super simple and so good for you and trust me you will not be disappointed with the flavor it has. To top it all off it packed of healthy Nutrients, Vitamins and it’s Delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients:Serves 2

2 6-oz Salmon fillets

1/2 lb of Spinach

1 cup of Lentils

1 1/2 cup of Veggie broth, low sodium

1 Shallot, chopped finely

1-2 dried Chili peppers, whole (optional)

Extra virgin Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small pot add 1 drizzle of olive oil, allow to heat and then add 1/2 the chopped shallot. Once shallot has reached cooking time, needs to be translucent you may throw in your lentils, salt and pepper then add your chili’s and broth. Cover and allow to cook at medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

In a separate pan add some olive oil place over medium heat and add the shallot, following cooking instructions same as for lentils. Now add your spinach, followed by salt and pepper; lower heat and cover. Cooking time may vary, it needs to wilt so when you see that it has wilted continue to cook for about 5 minutes and then turn off.

For the Salmon you are going to salt and pepper both sides. Place a pan over high heat add a small drizzle of olive oil, allow to heat completely and then carefully add your salmon. Cook for about 5 minutes and then flip over cooking for another 5 minutes.

Everything at this point should be cooked. So you may serve.

Gourmet Valentines? Try this: Pollo alla Cacciatora – Chicken Cacciatora

You may know by now that I am a savory kinda girl. So instead of posting a dessert I decided that I would post one of the most mouthwatering, amazingly delicious dish I have ever had the pleasure of eating for my Valentines Day recipe. I love this dish and it requires no time so you can still get all dolled up and ready for dinner while the house is filling with this amazing aroma of Pollo alla Cacciatora.

This is a perfect deep luscious red, sophisticated, amazingly gourmet but yet simple, healthy, effortless and delicious dish. This is a perfect dish if you have/want to impress anyone or if you want to finally feel proud that you can actually put something this delicious, succulent and amazing on a dish!
I bought the famous Artusi cookbook not too long ago “La scienza in Cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene”, “The science of cooking and the Art of eating well”. He’s known for the best Italian recipes bringing us back to the way it was prepared once upon a time. He’s cookbook was published back in 1891 and perfected in 1911 with a total of 790 recipes (for more click on above Artusi link). So, this is a recipe I got from there, only difference is that I used a shallot instead of an onion.

It only requires 4 ingredients (besides salt and pepper of course) and really is just delicious. I for some reason wasn’t able to get any good pictures because the smell that filled the house made both my husband and I incredibly impatient and extremely ravenous. But make this and I promise that you will not be disappointed.

I think that it would be a perfect dish to serve for Valentines Day if you are planning on cooking something for your love. It won’t leave you feeling heavy…wink, wink; and will leave you and whomever you served it to feeling that it was much better to stay home and eat this than go out and eat something crappy, not delicious set-menu because it is Valentines Day. No way! This will knock your socks off.

I got some fresh baked bread so that we could do ‘scarpetta’ which is used in reference to cleaning up the sauce on your plate with bread. Accompanied by a nice green salad dressed in olive oil.
However, you could accompany this dish with polenta, rice, potatoes, or whatever you like.

I hope that you truly enjoy this dish as much as we did. Happy Valentines Day. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Shallots, chopped finely*

1 small Chicken, chopped in pieces

½ cup of Red wine, pick SanGiovese or at least something good (this is the secret to this dish)

½ cup Tomato Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste

Put a medium to large skillet on medium-high flame with about 4 tablespoons of Olive oil, once the oil is hot add your shallots and allow to get translucent. Now scoop out the shallot and transfer to a plate, set aside.

Get your chicken, and place skin down onto the skillet, salt and pepper and once skin is golden flip and salt and pepper as well, cook for another 5-8 minutes and then add your shallot back in the skillet, followed by the wine and the tomato sauce. Mix around a bit, cover and allow to cook for about 40 minutes flipping the chicken once.

Now remove the lid and cook for about another 10 -15 minutes. Your chicken should be cooked, tender and juicy and your sauce thickened. Serve.

*If you don’t have shallots you can use one onion

Gnudi – Spinach and Ricotta Delicate No-Carb Balls

Have you ever just had a craving for something? I love all things cheesy and although I might not eat cheese everyday when I do I like it to be good quality cheese with a quality meal. Sometimes it’s just cheese and wine; here in Italy it’s so common to eat Parmigiano Reggiano in chunks with a nice glass of wine or for a snack.
However delicious; one of my favorite types of cheese is a good Pecorino aged at least 100 days but anyway I find it I like it. I find it so delicious and also easier to digest, maybe because it’s from sheep’s milk instead of cow. Whatever the reason I really enjoy it.

I was thinking the other night as I prepped my menu for the week as to what I would like to make for dinner and as seeing that it’s been cold, rainy, snowy the last week or so I thought of something warm, indulgent and possibly not too heavy because in the winter most dishes seem to be a little bit more heavy and a little too indulgent.
This recipe popped in my head and I thought ‘brilliant’, this it is: Gnudi which means ‘Nude’, they are in the family of Gnocchi but in a much lighter and delicate way because they have no-Carbs whatsoever they are not heavy or chewy, they melt in your mouth and feel like a little piece of heaven when you eat them.
Now, even though these don’t have a lot of ingredients and seem light they are still filling so I think that 4 or 5 balls per person is plenty. You can serve them with a light red sauce, mushroom sauce, bacon or whatever you like I choose a light sage and olive oil concoction, accompanied by a nice green salad. They are very simple and fast to make and make a great impression. Delizioso! I hope that you like as much as we did. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes about 15 large balls

1 kg. of frozen Spinach,  thawed, squeezed dry & chopped (get rid if the excess water)

300 gr. of Sheep Ricotta*

150 gr. of Pecorino, grated**

1 egg

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the sauce:

4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

5 leaves of Sage, fresh chopped or whole

Handful of Pecorino, grated

Preheat your oven at 350° (180°) degrees.

In a large bowl mix together spinach, ricotta, pecorino, the egg, salt and pepper.
Grab a baking dish and start making the balls placing down one by one, don’t worry if the are close to each other they won’t stick.

Now in a small sauce pan heat your olive oil and sage together until starts to sizzle and switch off. Drizzle the Olive oil mixture evenly over the balls, sprinkle the pecorino on top and bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

*Ricotta can also be from cow’s milk.

**You can use Parmigiano instead of Pecorino, I just wanted to use all sheep’s cheese.

Too Delicious to resist, Heavenly Coconut Balls; Gluten and Dairy-free

This is probably one of my favorite recipes that I will have posted to date. I do love all the other recipes; they are a part of my life and who I am and what I love to eat. With food, I generally think of things that go good together and make a dish that more often than not turns out to be amazing (That’s what my husband says). But this one recipe in particular, may it be because I don’t consider myself a baker or maybe because it didn’t take me one time but about 10 times at this point to get it perfect and somewhere that I felt good enough to publish (not that the other ten times they weren’t good I just wanted perfection), or whatever the case I love it and I’m proud of it!

I love coconut so although I must’ve eaten about 30 of these in the past 2 months, I’m glad because I actually lost weight and have a new found love for coconut and it’s healthy reputation.  Growing up here in Italy one of my favorite candy bars, were the famous Bounty bars made with shredded coconut and covered in chocolate. Yum. Then along came Ferrero chocolate company with it’s Raffaello chocolate with an almond in the center and covered with nothing but coconut itself.
Well, I stopped eating all these chocolates about maybe 8 years ago, occasionally indulging in one but don’t really have that love for them anymore because they are just too sweet and of course full of “other ingredients” that I can’t really even spell out.
All of these delicious products eventually become something I never craved or think of because they just aren’t part of the healthy woman that I am or became. I much rather indulge in things that are home-made and fresh. Don’t get me wrong occasionally a friend or someone will offer me one and I’m not saying I would never stick one of these in my mouth but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them, especially because now I have this recipe and the ingredients and flavor in these are so much more rewarding.

Also I am not saying that you are going to lose weight if you eat these. I love to work out and eat healthy foods and I guess that the combination of working out and the adding this healthy fat have really worked out for me and I couldn’t be happier.  It was a coincidence and a welcome at that.

Coconut has really been exploding over the world these past few years as a good for you fat, and how you should cook with it and use it as a fat substitution and try to incorporate it in your everyday diet (information we all knew just forgot about it). Just like nuts they are a healthy fat and you should eat them everyday. Be careful though that doesn’t give you a hall pass to go crazy, you still need moderation, after all that is the secret to being your best self ever! But do make them for New Years and serve them, your friend will go crazy. Or when you have a girls get together you can serve these as a little dessert this way you keep your waistline in check but your belly happy and indulged.

I should mention though the one that has really eaten about 100 of these is my husband, he loves them. Since I’ve know him and been married to him which is 9 years; he always eats a chocolate after dinner, but since these he will not buy chocolate and eats one of these every night and looks forward to them like a cute little puppy that he is, (in a mans body of course!) For him (seeing that he’s a chocolate lover ) I cover in dark chocolate, but I like to leave mine plain. So you choose how you want yours. If you want them plain just don’t dip them in the chocolate. I make this batch once a week and store it in a cookie tight container and they maintain wonderfully. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Makes about 15 balls

2 cups of Coconut, shredded

1 cup of Almond flour*

2 Egg whites

4 tbsp. Honey

3 tbsp. Flax oil**

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

½ tsp. Salt

1 bar Dark chocolate

 

Preheat the over at 350°F (or 180°C).

Mix all ingredients besides chocolate in bowl. If you have an ice cream scoop use it, it will save you all the tedious work. If not (like myself) wet your hands and grab a spoonful of the mix and compact balls together patiently. (They will sometimes fall apart, just restart the ball, they are really light so this is bound to happen.)

They will turn out just takes time, don’t worry about them being too perfect.

Place balls one by one on the baking sheet or cookie tray and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove allowing to cool down.

If Chocolate coating them:
Get your chocolate bar and break into pieces, place in a ceramic or glass bowl and melt at Bagno Maria a.k.a Bains-Marie (which means to place in a small pot of water, over medium heat, place a smaller bowl or pot inside it and gently allow ingredient to melt); if not place bowl in microwave and melt about 2-3 minutes. Mix until smooth with a spoon and one by one dip the balls in, gently roll them around in the chocolate and then place on wax paper (or use the same baking paper you cooked them in). Allow to harden.
You can leave them at room temperature for about 2 hours, or place them in the fridge for half hour and they’re done.

*You can omit the almond flour and either replace with oat four or coconut flour itself**You can replace the Flax oil with coconut oil, or linseed oil, grape seed oil; I liked mine best with the flax oil.

Simple Handmade Tagliatelle

Oh this is one of my favorites and it’s so simple. Listen, I know that making your own pasta can seem daunting and complicated, but it’s really, really simple. It cost’s less and tastes better. It’s a win win situation.

I love any type of pasta really, and I also don’t eat it so often because I like to vary with different things like rice, quinoa, potatoes, couscous and sometimes even bread. I know that pasta has a bad rep, and honestly I don’t believe any of it. Italians eat pasta atleast 6 days a week and they are all so thin and in shape.  Have you ever heard of eating Spaghetti in a bikini? Well, come here to Italy and you’ll see people including girls at the beach eating pasta in their bikini’s with absolute pleasure. I’m not saying that this is what we should all do, but I can say that when I eat pasta I am less bloated the next day than when I eat a salad. Trust me it just depends on your body’s digestion, how much you eat and what you put on it. I wrote a whole blog about it here: Skinny Italians Eat Pasta

Anyhow, this is a step by step of how to make it with a roller, but if you have a machine (which is so much easier…but less exercise) I would suggest using it, and just skip the last few steps. You can make this authentic Italian homemade Ragù a la Bolognese to put over it. Or keep it light and follow one of my other recipes for pasta. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Serves 2*

200 gr. Flour

2 eggs

Pour your flour on a flat surface and make a well in the center with your hand or fork.

Step one- Pasta fatta in casaThen carefully crack the eggs in the center of the well.

Step 2- Pasta fatta in casa

Carefully start incorporating the flour with the fork gently scooping it into the eggs. Starting from the center towards the outside. You may start kneading with your hands until you obtain a solid ball of dough. Knead until smooth for about 3-5 minutes. **

Step 3- Pasta fatta in casa

Start rolling it out, you have to obtain a really thin layer. Could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes of rolling it out. Continue until if held up to the light you could see the light through it.

If you are using the Pasta machine then start on the thickest setting an start feeding the dough through, fold and feed again repeat this step about 5 times, folding each time.
Start reducing the settings one pass at a time. It will start getting long so be gentle and careful with it.

Step 4- Pasta fatta in casa

Now fold in half, fold in half again, and fold in half once more. but do not press down on the fold. Grab a really sharp knife and carefully slice about 1/4″ in thickness (if you want papardelle do them thicker, your choice.) just make sure that they are all even. Then try to immediately unravel on a lightly floured surface. You can do this by inserting the dull side of a large knife into each slice and gently shaking it loose. But I just use my hands, it’s easier and no risk of slicing them. And you’re done.

If you are using the pasta machine: Once you are on the last setting you may pass it through to make the tagliatelle, put over a lightly floured surface and let rest until you finish them all.

Step 5- Pasta fatta in casa

Final Step Tagliatelle

Now for the cooking, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Gently throw in your pasta and allow to float to surface, it should take about 2 minutes. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.

Tagliatelle fate a mano con Ragu

Accompany with a Delicious Red wine

Tagliatelle con ragu e vino rosso

*This should be helpful: 100 grams of Flour + 1 egg = 1 Serving So for each additional serving you add: 100 grams of Flour + 1 egg. Easy!

** Kneading ensures a silky smooth pasta, it’s an important step.

My indulgent healthy melted goat cheese from Piemonte

Who doesn’t love melted cheese, bread and wine???!! I know I do.

This is something that I just love to eat as an indulgence. I’m more of a savory person, and there is nothing like cheese, warm bread and a luscious glass of red wine to fill that want for something a little bit more indulgent but still sophisticated; oh and lets not forget healthy. Ok, so I know that melted cheese, bread and wine have a bad rep and I am one of those that totally believe that you can’t eat this everyday, but that it’s not healthy? Well, that depends on what you eat? Let’s say you have a pound of heavy cheese, a whole loaf of fresh white bread, accompanied by a bottle of red wine it might not be so healthy.

I find that I really enjoy fresh baked Khorasan Wheat bread, it’s pretty much a whole grain that is so healthy and lighter to digest than whole wheat or spelt (although I will eat these options as well), here in Italy I have a baker right around the corner called “La Forneria” and you would be amazed at how many healthy breads they bake, I mean you name it, gluten free, dairy-free, no yeast, soy, whole wheat, whole grain, spelt, khorasan, cereal, I mean all types of flavors sizes and not to mention how delicious all are. My Husband and I have been really happy with the Khorasan version and that is what we get.

KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat is higher in protein and many minerals, especially selenium, zinc, and magnesium compared to modern wheat. Due to the unusually high content of selenium, which is a mineral known for its high antioxidant capacity, KAMUT® khorasan wheat can be called a good source of selenium.
Because of its higher percentage of lipids, which produce more energy in the body than carbohydrates, KAMUT® khorasan wheat can be described as “high energy wheat.” Athletes, people with busy lives or just anyone looking for high energy food will find products made with KAMUT® khorasan wheat a valuable addition to their diet.

Alright, so we have the bread down pat, it’s definitely deliciously healthy. For the cheese here in Italy we have a wonderful cheese that is called Tomino, it’s made in Piemonte Region and solely from goat milk. I guess you could say that it kinda looks like a brie because it has that little outer edible layer, they make this little portion sizes you throw it in a pan or the oven and let it heat up and the inside totally melts….it’s so good.

The other night I had come home late from being out all day, it was pouring down rain and the last thing that I wanted to do was cook. I remembered that I had bought 2 Tomino’s and I had a small loaf of Kamut bread  covered with flax seeds. I figured that this would be perfect. First things first, I asked my husband to pour us both a glass of wine (I believe it was Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one of my favorites), I needed to relax, yeah one of those days. I turned on the oven and let it start to heat. Then pulled out the salad put it all in a bowl set it aside, got the Tomino wrapped two slices of Speck (sort of like Prosciutto Crudo with a more pepper smoked taste). Put it in a small pan threw them in the oven along with the loaf of bread for 10 minutes. That was a perfect light meal and so perfect to end the rainy day. Who says that you can’t eat this stuff?! It was a delicious and healthy version of unhealthy bread and cheese reputation that is out there.
Ingredients:

Serves 2

2 small Tomino’s

4 slices of Speck

Small Loaf Kamut Bread, or whatever you like

Veggie of your preference

And please don’t forget the delicious, luscious red wine

Preheat your oven at 350°.
Pour yourself a glass and start to relax. Wrap each cheese separate, crossing the slices of speck over each other to fully cover the cheese. Put in a small pan and throw in the oven for 10 minutes along with the bread.

Slice the bread. Serve the Tomino whole on the plate and enjoy the delicious flavors in your mouth.

An Amazing Low Calorie Stuffed Egglpant for Meatless Monday

Love, Love, Love the thought of Meatless Mondays. I’m a huge fan of anything vegetable and it’s just nice to see that you don’t always need meat at every meal. It helps me really put my brain to work and see how many meat dishes I can convert into meatless dishes and/or simply come up with.
To some the word meatless or vegetable is such a turn off, but really to me it makes me happy and also gives me the opportunity to start my week off clean and more healthy. I don’t believe in ‘as long as it’s vegetable it’s healthy’. For me you can’t steam broccoli and then add 1/2 a pound of butter, or flour, or all those heavy sauces and consider it healthy; at that point just eat a burger and your probably more healthy and it’s less caloric.

To me meatless resonates with clean, lean, purifying, nutritious and most of all beneficial. So, I think of dishes that I can put together that are all the above mentioned. It’s not that I am eating meatless because meat is bad and so on, so on. But because I truly enjoy vegetables and healthy grains and actually making things that derive soley from the earth. Or atleast most of it.

The Recipe that follows is so simple and really delicious. I love eggplant, it’s a great substitute for meat because it’s a really filling vegetable. I love eggplant Parmiggiana I have a lo-cal recipe here. This time I kept the eggplant whole and stuffed it with mushrooms…Delicious. I hope that you like it and remember that you can always make your on twist, add another vegetable, or you can stuff it with Quinoa, Cous-cous, Rice, even Meat.
This is my meatless delicious version. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

2 medium Eggplants

1/2 lb. Sliced mushrooms

1 small can diced Tomatoes

1 clove Garlic, chopped finely

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Chili Flakes (optional)

Parchment Paper

Preheat your oven at 180° C (350°F).
Slice your eggplant in half and with a spoon scoop out the center leaving about 1-2 in. around the border. Put the eggplant aside and begin to slice into small cubes what you scooped out of the eggplant.

In a large saucepan heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil and add your finely chopped garlic clove, once golden color add your mushrooms and chopped eggplant. Allow to cook for 5-8 minutes until you see the eggplant and mushrooms start to shrink a little, now add your can of diced tomatoes, salt and pepper and chili flakes and allow to simmer for another 8 minutes.

In the meantime, drizzle remainder of olive oil inside the whole eggplants and sprinkle some salt as well. By now you can turn off your eggplant and mushroom sauce and scoop the mixture inside of the eggplants. Face both halves together to look like a whole eggplant and wrap in parchment paper, put in a baking tray, do the same with the other eggplant and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Be careful when you unwrap the eggplant as steam might escape. There might be sauce at the bottom of the parchment so grab the whole thing put on plates and push the eggplant off the parchment and eat. YUM.

*Optional you could grate Parmigiano and put over the top if you wish….My husband did.

Tuscany: Food, Wine and “Le Terme”…Need I say more!

Wine tasting in the Banfi Castle, a Fiorentina steak in Montalcino, a fountain/cascade bath in Saturnia and more typical things to discover about Tuscany.
Let me bring Tuscany to you and discover some of the most delicious food, recipes and of course; wine (if you’re a wino like myself you will truly appreciate), and a few other surprises I discovered and wanted to share with all mythineaters.

It all starts in Montalcino the home of “Brunello di Montalcino” a luscious, deep red wine that has to be aged at least 5 years (or 6 years if it’s a Riserva) by Italian law and only made with Sangiovese grapes from the Montalcino vineyards.  If you like it just a little younger there is “Rosso di Montalcino” also luscious and deep red but more subtle, it only has to be aged about a year, still made with Sangiovese grapes from the Montalcino vineyards. Both amazing. The process is quite long, so there are about 2 weeks a year to be exact when the grapes are picked, generally the last week in September and the 1st week in October, then they are selected carefully, placed in these huge tins for fermentation, then moved into wood barrels and for the remainder of the aging they get placed in the bottle and when ready labeled and off to be sold. There are about 300 “Cantine” that you could visit, with some of the most famous in the world known as Banfi, Biondi Santi Franco, Brunelli, Campana, Colombaiolo, Il Poggiolo, Belpoggio, Barbi and Poggio Antico just to name a few.

                                    

The wine is paired beautifully with the Bistecca Fiorentina which is a loin cut from the male cow raised only in the Tuscany-Umbria region called Chianina . The bone has a “T” shape know as a T-bone steak in the USA, the smallest you could order is about 1 lb and 9 oz. and 2.3 inches thick. They cook it rare about 3-5 minutes per side (and don’t try to ask well cooked or they will give you a dirty look).  You salt it only at the end when you serve it; we accompanied the steak with some stewed veggies. It really was delicious and melted in our mouth.

               

Another famous dish around here is the “Ribollita” which means re-boiled, because every time you re-heat it, it tastes better. It’s derived from back in the day when the farmers only cooked on Fridays, so they used to get vegetables and old bread, cook it in a huge pot and then reheat it the rest of the week. The two most important ingredients are black cabbage and beans. You top it off with some Extra virgin Olive oil and Bread.

Then you have a lot of boar, that’s the meat they use for their Ragu sauce served with Papardelle.  I had Bresaola made from the Chianina cow served with rucola; and of course I had a delicious fresh Porcini soup. Crostini with Pesto, Patè or Pecorino toscano. And something very simple yet amazing, Ricotta Balls with just a bit of olive oil and Parsley.

                       

After all this delicious food there is of course endless desserts, but myself not being a sweet tooth decided that I would opt for the more simple cookies, afterall this is what Tuscany is known for. You’ve all heard about the world-famous Cantucci aka Biscotti in the USA. Then there is one that I particularly love called Brutti ma Buoni which means ‘Ugly but Good’ (in this case Delicious). It’s simply made with ground Hazelnuts, egg whites, sugar and powdered sugar.

  

Yes, I ate and drank all of this and still managed to go to Saturnia a town about 60 km south-west of Montalcino known for their Terme, which is pretty much a natural Cascade of Sulfur water that is at a normal temp. of 99,5 degrees Farenheit. It’s extremely therapeutic and highly recommended for the skin, bones and any circulatory issues one could have not to mention the relaxing benefits you get from the water. It is the most unique waterfall cascade/spring that I have ever laid my eyes on, supposedly the sulfur causes coves and that is how all theses little pockets are created. I loved every second of it and needed some detox relax after all that drinking.

    

Ciao, Hope you enjoyed Tuscany as much as I did.
 

I’m Back – My Summer Thineats in Italy

You’re right! Yes, I have completely disappeared into a world of my own, enjoying some of the most delicious cuisine in northern Italy; my hometown.

As most of you mythineater followers are aware of; I love to eat! I love to eat all types of food; good food though! I seem to have never come to terms with the fact of leaving the house and going out to pay for something that I could easily have cooked myself (and quite possibly even better).

I enjoy Italy especially, because food is a celebration; you go out and meet up with friends have about four hours sitting at the table enjoying each others company while enjoying some amazing food. No hassle, only pure enjoyment.

My husband and I live in Cervia, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea, in the province of Ravenna located in the Emilia-Romagna Region of Northern Italy. It’s a gorgeous, quaint little town where one of the things that I love to have and take full advantage of is FRESH CAUGHT FISH.
The fisherman get up at dawn, go out at sea and return in the early morn to sell fish at our local fish market, what they fish is what you make and eat that day.
Of course we have a couple of local “Pescheria” (fish store) that have other things as well and maybe fish caught that morning or the day before on the Mediterranean Sea. One of my favorites to purchase, something I always order or make at home is Vongole aka Clams. You make it in this delicious light wine sauce and they are divine and light. You can eat them alone or accompanied with any sorts of pasta, from Tagliolini to Bavette to Spaghetti.

These I haven’t yet mentioned , but I love just as much: Cozze aka Mussels, there’s just something about them so much flavor locked up in this black shell. I love “le cozze alla tarantina” cooked in a very light red sauce with just a hint of spicy. You get served some fresh toasted bread on the side and voilà.

Then they have something that cannot even be put into words of how delicious it is, don’t freak out I know that this is unexpected but it’s really one of my all time favorites, Polipo aka Octopus, yes you read right; Octopus. It’s delicious! Accompanied normally by boiled potatoes, you add some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, pepper and chopped flat leaf parsley mix it together and you have a party of luscious flavor in your mouth. Ah, Yes!

The list of seafood is infinite, anywhere from tartare to grilled, from broiled to poached, and from steamed to seared. The secret to why it tastes so amazing is that Italians don’t believe in flavoring their food too much, just a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper some parsley maybe and that’s it! You really don’t want to add too many ingredients and take away from that simple yet amazing flavor the seafood already has.

Then we go into the meats, we of course have some of the best charchuterie on the planet, I mean does it get any better than an amazing slice of Proscuitto di Parma, or Prosciutto San Daniele?! Or let me mention Culatello di Zibello it just melts in your mouth it has less fat on the outside and amazing in your mouth. We also have something called Bresaola, which is a lean meat aged as well and just very particular flavor almost a little peppery but oh, served with some rucola and Parmigiano shavings and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil on top its to die for.

All of the above mentioned accompanied by none other than olives, amazing aged cheeses from Parmigiano Reggiano to Pecorino, also Mozzarella di Buffala or Squacerone con Fichi Caramellati (which would be a really soft, creamy, extremely fresh cheese accompanied by carmalized figs), I know but you have to try it to actually fathom what it tastes like.
I (and most Italians in this region) always have to accompany this with our local flat bread called ‘Piadina’ it’s crunchy on the outside but super soft on the inside, it’s hard to describe because you will not be able to get it anywhere outside of the Romagna Region (not even in Emilia) so it’s particular and delicious. Now there are other amazing breads out there to accompany this with; like a schiacciatina (just the Pizza crust), or a foccacia or of course any other sort of fresh-baked bread.

Then of course we have all sorts of delicious meats, salsiccia aka sausage, (this is very different from American sausage, it’s peppery and has some most amazing texture and oh so bad for you but delicious). Costolette aka ribs, just grilled though nothing else, yum. Pancetta aka bacon, but thicker and of course; delicious. The list goes on you’ll have the typical filleto (filet), Tagliata di Manzo (strip steak), Lonza (Pork chop), etc..

Always accompanied of course by vegetables, generally: Pinzimonio, which would be all types of raw vegetables, Fennel, Celery, Cucumber, Radishes, Tomatoes, Carrots, Endive, Cipollina, and Bell Peppers; chopped longwise and served with a small dipping cup on the side that has Extra Virgin Olive oil and Salt. You dip the vegetables in the mix and enjoy.
Of course, you also can have grilled veggies, spinach, mushrooms, rosemary roasted potatoes and “pomodori gratinate” aka tomatoes au gratin (which is basically breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and salt, sprinkled over a tomato half and baked in the oven). Or last but not least “radicchio ai bruciatini” which is sautéed radicchio with toasted pancetta and a balsamic demi-glaze.

And then, and then dessert! Dessert is something very particular in this country because it varies: You have Tiramisù, Profiteroles, Mascarpone, Zabaglione and of course Sorbetto and Gelato. But one of my all time favorites is Crostata di Frutta aka Fresh Fruit Pie, it has a really crunchy crust (my favorite thing: crunch) then crema della nonna (which is a cream made out of egg yolks, flour, milk and sugar), topped with fresh fruit; it’s hard to describe just how delicious it is. I love, love, love it.

Of course we all know about biscotti, but my favorites are the Scroccadenti they are practically the same as biscotti but with figs instead of the almonds. Delish!

The list of foods in this wonderful country are never-ending but this is all for now. I hope that you enjoyed.

Stayed tuned next blog will be about foods in Tuscany, Rome and Positano (the Amalfi); Yes, I’m taking you around with me. And no, I won’t forget to post recipes as well.

Ciao

Sesame Crusted Grilled Tuna Steak

There is something just so delicious to me about Tuna Steak! My husband and I both love seafood and seem to never be able to get enough of it.
For starters there is so many different types of fish and/or seafood; from tuna steak to sea bass, tilapia to salmon, lobster to shrimp, clams to scallops and the list can go on forever, it’s simple, fresh and delicious. It’s healthy and easy to digest, perfect for a light meal anytime of the year.

We both have fallen in love with tuna on the grill, we basically make in about 10 minutes and that’s including marinating, grilling and serving…HA!
My husband is amazing with the grill, you might think that’s not that hard but it is; you need to know how and when to flip the food, what temperature and most of all how to keep it tender without leaving it raw or burnt. However, he is great at it and seeing as though I like most of my meals grilled, I am truly appreciative that he does the grilling as it gives me a break from doing all the work myself.

Tuna is figure friendly; with very little fat and just 80 calories per 6 ounce steak.
Tuna is an excellent source of protein. It’s full of omega-3’s and contains Vitamin E and K which help prevent heart disease, cancer and blood coagulation. It has essential minerals such as potassium, niacin, selenium, iron and iodine.
You can see why there are so many health benefits associated with tuna. So; consume tuna regularly as part of a healthy diet and reap all of these health benefits.

We like to grill it, but there are many, many ways of prepping it. In this recipe I use only 4 ingredients; be creative and see what you can create or how you want to marinate it. I accompanied it with a light leafy, green salad. Avocado is excellent as well, and I also like asparagus or green beans; so see what you have or like and use it! Enjoy.

Ingredients:

2 6 oz. Fresh Tuna steaks

2 tbsp. of Habanero hot sauce (Crystal is great)

2 tbsp. of Sesame seeds

Grinded Peppercorns

drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat you grill. Get your tuna steaks and evenly spread 1 tbsp of hot sauce on one side of the steaks, grind peppercorns and sprinkle add 1 tbsp of sesame seeds on top; flip steaks over and repeat procedure using the remaining ingredients.
Drizzle the Olive oil and put steaks on the grill cook for about 4 minutes on each side; the steaks should be a little pink in the center*.
Remove from heat and serve. That’s it!

* If you like it cooked thoroughly then leave it on longer.