Anyone who knows me knows that hands down PIZZA is one of my all time favorite foods. I love making pizza, I love eating pizza, I love finding new pizza places and I am a very tough pizza critic. Recently a friend recommended Don Antonio on West 50th Street in NYC. I wandered in for lunch by myself and ordered a classic margherita pizza. (the fried pizza is a specialty there but I always start with the classics so I will have to make a return trip to try it)
The pizza arrived and I could barely contain my excitement long enough to snap the photo posted above – it tasted as good as it looks- BRAVO Don Antonio you won me over!
If you happen to be in NY you need to stop in – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I’m in Los Angeles where the weather is currently 80 degrees – not exactly winter weather! Warm weather always makes me crave smoothies. I am also a mom to an 18 month old who refuses to eat fruit but will happily drink a smoothie- so if I can give my baby something nutritious and fulfill my own craving then it’s a win win situation!
This smoothie is super healthy and tastes great. (Acai, a berry found in the Amazon, is high in antioxidants and low in sugar.)
10 ice cubes
1 Sambazon Acai Smoothie Packet **
I Fiji apple – juiced
5 large strawberries
1/4 cup blueberries
1 scoop whey protein powder (optional)
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well. If you don’t have a juicer to juice an apple you can substitute with a 1/4 cup of organic apple juice or even water.
*you can buy Sambazon smoothie packets online at www.sambazon.com or at your local Wholefoods in the freezer section.
Anyone that knows me knows that I always have clean lettuce in my fridge as I LOVE salads. I always get asked for the recipe for my vinaigrette so here it is!
1/2 cup lime juice (fresh squeezed)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 small garlic cloves (peeled and sliced)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 splash of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive olive in a mini food processor or blender and blend until smooth and you don’t have any chunks of garlic.
Slowly add in olive oil (about 1/4 cup at a time) – and continue to blend until olive oil is well incorporated.
*you can always add in a little more balsamic or honey based on how you prefer your dressing**
You can store unused dressing in refrigerator – I like to store in a glass mason jar,
Caponata is a vegetable dish served all over Italy – my version is made with nothing more than vegetables, seasoning and olive oil .
I find this to be a really versatile recipe – its a great side dish or can be served as a main course over rice. it can be served hot or cold and it gets better as it sits and all the flavors meld together – 2 days after you make it I think its the best. It is amazing in panini, in an omelette or even served on mini toasts as an appetizer. (If you do plan to serve it with bruschetta, cut the vegetables very small – about 1/4-inch dice.) Here is how I served it at a recent holiday party with cocktails – everyone loved it!
I make it in large quantities because it’s more than a little chopping and I love having it my fridge.
4 firm Italian eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds total
4 firm zucchini, about 2 pounds total
5 large plum tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds total), or 1 (14-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice
2 firm red bell peppers (about 1 pound total)
2 firm yellow bell peppers (about 1 pound total)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
1. Set yourself up with two colanders. Trim the stems from the eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut the slices lengthwise into strips about 1/3 to 1/2 inch wide, and cut those strips crosswise into cubes. Put the eggplant cubes into one of the colanders. Cube the zucchini the same way, and put it into the second colander. Thoroughly toss each vegetable with about 2 teaspoons salt. Set a plate directly on top of the vegetables in each colander, and weight the plates with a couple of large cans. (This will press out the water and intensify the flavor of the vegetables.) Put the colanders in the sink, or on two deep plates to catch the water, and set them aside for at least 2 hours to drain.
2. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Set a plate near the stove. Add the tomatoes to the water and let them bob around until the skin begins to pull away from the flesh, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the tomatoes to the plate with a slotted spoon or “spider” and let them cool a few minutes. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel off the skins with your fingers. Chop the tomatoes, put them in a bowl, and set them aside. (If you’re using canned tomatoes, coarsely chop the tomatoes – a food processor works just fine for this – and set them aside in a bowl with their juice.)
3. Cut off and discard the tops of the bell peppers. Cut the peppers in half through the stem ends and pull out the seeds with your fingers. Carefully cut out the fleshy, white ribs with a small knife. Then slice the peppers into strips 1/3 to 1/2 inch wide; cut the strips crosswise into squares.
4. Dump the eggplant out onto paper toweling. Cover with more paper toweling and pat dry completely. Do the same with the zucchini, keeping the vegetables separate.
5. Set a 9-by-13-inch baking dish next to the stove. Place two large skillets on top of two burners over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup oil to each pan and heat until the oil is hot enough to sizzle when you add a piece of eggplant. Then put the eggplant into one pan and the zucchini into the other. Cook, stirring every now and then with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables just begin to color, about 20 minutes. Scrape all the vegetables out into the baking dish.
6. Turn the heat to low under one skillet. Add another 1/4 cup oil and the garlic to the skillet. Heat the oil until you smell the garlic a bit, 1 to 2 minutes. (Don’t let the garlic color or it will get strong tasting.) Now add the chopped tomato (fresh or canned, with juices), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the parsley. Cover and simmer very gently until the tomatoes are soft and saucy, about 25 minutes for fresh or 35 minutes for canned. Scrape into the baking dish.
7. While the tomatoes cook, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil to the second pan, set it over medium heat, and heat until a little piece of onion sizzles when you add it to the pan. Add the chopped onion and cook 5 minutes. Add the diced peppers and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the peppers are very soft, about 25 more minutes. Add to the baking dish.
8. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and center a rack in the oven.
9. Add 1/8 teaspoon black or red pepper to the vegetables in the baking dish and gently stir all the vegetables together. Taste, and add salt or pepper to your liking. (We don’t really do spicy, but you can add more red pepper, if you like.) Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes.
**I know this may seem labor intensive but I promise you that it’s worth it! Enjoy!!!!
This summer I had the great fortune of spending a few days at the Palmilla Resort in Los Cabos Mexico. Besides being beautiful and relaxing the food was incredible. Coming from an Italian family, Mexican food was not something that was served in our house but it’s definitely a cuisine that I have to come to appreciate and enjoy. I spent some time with Rodrigo Bueno, one of the executive chefs from Palmilla and he shared his recipe and tips for the perfect Guacamole – just in time for Labor Day weekend!
(serves 10 people)
10 Ripe Avocados
2 Serrano pepers (apporx 2 1/2 ” in length) -finely chopped
4 Limes -
3 tablespoons cilantro – chopped
6 tablespoons salsa mexicana (recipe to follow)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cut avocados in half and scoop out insides with a spoon. Place avocados in a large bowl. Squeeze juice of the 4 limes over the avocado and puree with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in peppers, , cilantro and salsa mexicana and serve.
4 tablesoons diced yellow onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 large rip tomatoes diced
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl , mix well and serve.
While taking a cooking lesson with Chef Bueno he shared some of the following tips:
When working with serrano peppers (or any spicy variety) the heat lives in the seeds and the white veins so remove both if you less spice.
When chopping cilantro be sure to include the stems – not just the leaves – as the stems hold a lot of flavor.
Be sure to add lime juice to avocados right away – the acid in the juice will inhibit the avocado from browning.
Thanks to Chef Rodrigo Bueno for his great tips and delicious food!
PS - For anyone who is interested Palmilla will soon be offering cooking classes at their resort!
BAKED PEACHES WITH AMARETTI AND COCOA
This is the best season for peaches so take advantage of this time! My grandmother in Italy used to make this dessert for me in the summer and its still one of my favorites. The amaretti and cocoa filling add just the right touch of extra sweetness and texture so you feel like you are having a real dessert when actually its fairly guilt free.
The peaches should be very ripe and juicy. If they’re not so juicy, you may need to chop an extra peach half for the filling, to add a little moisture. Make amaretti crumbs by pulsing the cookies in a food processor, or putting them in a resealable plastic bag, and crushing them with a rolling pin or a meat mallet.
Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
4 ripe peaches, washed and patted dry
5 tablespoons crushed amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces)
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Whipped cream, for serving
1. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold 8 peach halves in a single layer.
2. Cut the peaches in half with a small knife and remove the pits. Cut off the peel in strips. Place the peach halves in the baking dish as you finish peeling them.
3. Use a melon baller to scoop out some of the center pulp from each peach, being careful not to perforate the edges, to make little containers for the filling. Put the peach pulp on a cutting board and finely chop it; transfer it to a small bowl. Add the cookie crumbs, the egg yolk, and the cocoa powder, and stir to combine.
4. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
5. Divide the filling among the peach halves. Pour the wine into the dish around the peaches. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a thin crust forms on the filling. Let cool to room temperature or refrigerate until chilled. Serve with whipped cream, if you like.
SIDEBAR Shopping with Anna
To hurry along not-very-ripe peaches, put them in a paper bag, close the top, and let them sit at room temperature until they ripen. I wish I could give you a specific length of time, but you just need to keep checking until they’re ready.