Prosciutto Wrapped Almond Butter & Chèvre Dates

Prosciutto Wrapped Almond Butter & Chèvre Dates

Don’t get me wrong; my boyfriend and I have got plenty in common.

We also have a few fundamental differences.  Things I have a hard time getting past.  Things at the very core of who we are.  Things like he doesn’t like ants on a log.

Say what?!?  Who doesn’t like ants on a log?  Who is this man and what is this craziness?  I wouldn’t think twice about them as a cocktail party snack or lining up a whole forest of fallen logs and calling it dinner. Not my Matt, though.

I know.  We should seek counseling.

But in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I am reaching out.  I’ve created an hors d’oeuvre that screams classy (for Mr. Fancy Pants) but actually caters to my inner desire to feast on ants on a log.  They’re prosciutto wrapped almond butter & chèvre stuffed dates and they are totally addictive.  Matt’ll dig them because I’ve replaced the raw celery with prosciutto.  His much hated raisin-ants are now giant Medjool date-beetles.  And the peanut butter has been swapped for almond butter and chèvre because, well, peanut butter and prosciutto just felt wrong. [Read more…]

Anise Seed & Sea Salt Focaccia

Anise Seed & Sea Salt Focaccia

My favorite restaurant meals involve taking something home.  And I don’t mean a doggy bag of left-overs.

I’m talking inspiration or an idea you can bring into your own kitchen.  Something that surprised you, something that delighted you, and something you can sneak into your repertoire at home.  Sometimes it is just a piece of a dish or a specific flavor combination.  Other times, you kind of lift the whole idea.

This time around, it’s a lifted anise-scented focaccia.  I happen to be a huge fan of anise and have added it to plenty of baked goods at home.  And I’m no stranger to homemade focaccia, but the 2 of them together?  Whoa!  Now that’s a great idea.

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Clam, Chorizo & Chickpea Soup with Saffron Aioli

Chickpea, Chorizo & Clam Soup with Saffron AioliI can hardly claim to be an “expert” on any cuisine, but based on my family name, my travels, and my resume, I am at least familiar with a lot of what Italian and French cuisines have to offer.

Not Spanish food, though.  Spain is a bit of a mystery.

I’ve been there, but it was brief and at the end of months living abroad on a student budget.  Sure, I remember having churros con chocolate (life-changing, obviously) and paella but my funds and timeframe didn’t allow me to dig in much beyond that.

So that’s my disclaimer.

That being said, I like to imagine if I’d stayed a little longer, turned a few more corners, stepped into a couple more restaurants, and eaten a few more dinners, I might have had something like this: a tomatoey clam, chickpea, and Chorizo soup, scented with smoked paprika and plenty of garlic, served with crusty, crunchy bread and saffron aioli.  Perhaps?  I’d like to think so.

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Maple-Walnut Pork Tenderloin with Wilted Kale

Maple-Walnut Pork Tenderloin with Wilted Kale I know.  Kale (unless it’s in juice form) is, like, so 2012, but I still can’t get enough of it.

You know what else I can’t get enough of?  Recipes that deliver huge, tasty results with minimal effort. Recipes that are endlessly versatile.  Meals that taste like they took hours  but require only 30 minutes of popping in and out of the kitchen.  I can’t get enough dinners like this roasted pork tenderloin over wilted kale.  And the maple, Dijon mustard &  walnut vinaigrette that dresses the dish?  Would things get weird if I told you I wouldn’t mind bathing in it?  You’re right, forget I mentioned it.

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Endive, Olive & Potato Tiella

Endive, Olive & Potato Tiella - Version 2

Oh, how I wish I could entertain you with some charmingly romantic story about my first encounter with tiella.  I’d love to say I was hiking between hillside villages in the Italian countryside and I stumbled upon the most wonderful, humble, little osteria.  A wrinkled old woman, cheeks dusted with flour, wearing a checkered kerchief, beckoned me in to try a piece of her legendary tiella.

Nope.  My first encounter was less exotic, far less romantic.

It was less fairytale and way more suburban mall food court.

It occurred to me as I was slicing into my homemade, wilted greens and garlic-filled tiella that it looked an awful lot like the spinach-stuffed pizza from sbarro that I’d splurge on with my hard-earned baby-sitting cash during my teeny-bopper mall-cruising days.

My more “authentic” experiences with tiella are hardly more exotic or romantic.  In fact, the last time I had it in Italy, it was from a gas station, eaten from my lap, as we frantically drove to our next destination, while I complained bitterly about Matt’s driving style and my extreme nausea.

That’s okay, though.  I don’t think tiella is supposed to be put on a pedestal.  All it is, really, is a double crusted pizza pie, filled with whatever tasty ingredients you fancy.  And while my old lady-osteria fantasy might exist somewhere, even in Italy you are way more likely to find yourself a piece of tiella at a convenience store or bar or take-away joint.

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