Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

Spice Up Your Spring!

May 12, 2007

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about one of my favorite online shops. No, I’m not talking about Zappos, I’m not talking about King Arthur Flour, and I’m not talking about Burt’s Bees. While it’s true that all of those businesses get their share of my money, my most recent online purchase was from The Spice House. Does it seem strange to shop for spices online? I kind of thought so too. But one visit to their site changed my mind and after my first package arrived in the mail over a year ago, I was completely hooked!

I was one of those people whose spice cabinet was packed with old bottles of spices that had been purchased for one recipe or another and then never touched again. Read the rest of this entry »

Carpaccio di Arance e Olive Verde

January 30, 2007

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I made this simple salad of blood oranges, green olives and olive oil for a snack the other day and it was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but take photos of it. I’ve had the photos posted on Flickr for a couple of days now but I hadn’t planned on writing about it here. It’s so simple that I really didn’t think of it as a recipe. But, I am absolutely head over heels in love with this photo and the taste of this dish was spectacular. So, even though there isn’t much to it, I’ve decided this is definitely a recipe worth sharing. Read the rest of this entry »

I Dreamed of Broccoli

January 17, 2007

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No, really I did! Of course it was only a daydream, but that daydream led to my new favorite roasted broccoli recipe that I plan on sharing with you once I get through telling my silly story. I was at the gym, on the elliptical machine, listening to Bob Marley on my new ipod shuffle (I know, I probably wasn’t moving very fast while listening to that), when all of a sudden I drifted off and started daydreaming about the broccoli in my fridge. Read the rest of this entry »

Orange You Glad it’s Friday?

January 12, 2007

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One of my favorite things about winter is fresh-squeezed orange juice! I’ve been lucky in that I’ve spent many years of my life surrounded by orange trees. Growing up in California, we actually never had an orange tree of our own but the thing about living in the San Joaquin Valley is that even if you don’t have an orange tree, you always know several people who do! Well it’s been several years since I’ve lived in California but now here I am in Sicily, surrounded by orange trees once again, and I’m loving it! Read the rest of this entry »

Cilantro Caesar Salad with Carne Asada

November 1, 2006

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I created this salad quite a while ago but haven’t posted it because I haven’t come up with an exact recipe. Each time I make the salad, I change the ingredients and amounts, trying to come up with the perfect combination. But it seems that it tastes just as good each time. So, I’m just going to give you a basic recipe and some general guidelines and you can either come up with your own “exact recipe” or you can keep changing it up like I’ve been doing.

I started experimenting with this salad because I was trying to replicate the mexican caesar salad from El Torito, a chain restaurant here on the west coast. I haven’t had it for years but I’ve never forgotten the cilantro dressing. Since I was in Italy when I started my experiment, I ended up using olive oil, pine nuts and parmigiano reggiano cheese. What I came up with is basically a thin cilantro pesto and it’s REALLY good on salad and meat! I think the only resemblance my recipe has to the El Torito salad is the main cilantro flavor and the tortilla strips. But it’s similar enough that I no longer crave the other one. Read the rest of this entry »

Cucumbers with Creamy Feta Dressing

August 18, 2006

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Creamy Feta Dressing

8 oz. plain yogurt
4 oz. feta cheese
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/8 t. garlic powder (or use a small amount of fresh garlic)
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or small food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

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Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese and Honey

August 8, 2006

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I stumbled across a crazy site by the name of Steve’s Hot Dogs one afternoon and found this great recipe for grilled peaches. The actual name of the recipe is “The Best Damn Peaches You’ve Never Had…” and now I can say that they come pretty close to the best damn peaches I have had. These peaches were brushed with oil, grilled, filled with crumbled blue cheese and drizzled with honey. Unfortunately I didn’t have the Tupelo honey that was specified in the recipe but the bees in Sicily do a pretty good job.

Even if grilled peaches aren’t your thing, be sure to head over there for some interesting recipes (squirrel stew, for one), Samuel L. Jackson references, and the terrific beverage recommendations that accompany every recipe (“Serve with your favorite Cabernet Sangiovese and have yourself a Champagne Jam like the Atlanta Rhythm Section or with the Atlanta Rhythm Section”).

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Once you try these peaches, you’ll probably be hooked on grilling fruit. I love to grill apple rings after they have been brushed with oil and sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar. Be creative. Just about anything you put on a grill is going to taste pretty damn good! An interesting article about grilling fruit can be found here.

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Just Plantain Crazy

August 5, 2006

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Have you ever seen those large bright green banana-looking things in the produce section of your supermarket and wondered what they are or what you’re supposed to do with them? For years, I passed by the piles of lovely plantains without a clue as to what I was missing.

I was introduced to Puerto Rican cooking a couple of years ago when a friend invited me over for stewed chicken, black beans, rice, and something she called tostones. When I asked about the tostones, she explained that they were fried plátanos. This explanation did not help me at all because it’s been a long time since my two years of Spanish classes in high school and I’m pretty sure I never knew the Spanish word for plantain in the first place. But even though I had never cooked with them, or even seen one peeled, I recognized the large green bananas on the counter and I realized that plátanos are what I had always known as plantains. I couldn’t wait to taste them because I was really clueless when it came to these things.

Plantains are a staple throughout the tropical regions of the world. Despite their similarities on the outside, plantains are a little different than their cousin, the banana. When green, the plantain is starchy and very firm without any sweetness. At this stage they have a neutral flavor and are commonly used much like a potato. But as they ripen, plantains turn from green to yellow then black and sweeten much like a banana. As you might have guessed, plantains are eaten like a vegetable when green and when ripe, they turn into dessert. Read the rest of this entry »