Friday, June 22, 2012

Eats in Italy: Part 3

While I do have more recipes planned they had to take a back seat this past week because my sister just had a baby, my first nephew!  He's a handsome and healthy boy and completely captured my attention for the past week.  So I'll get to work on new recipes now, but first I though I'd share yet another post of what I ate in Italy.

I'm a coffee drinker.  Occasionally I'll switch to tea in the morning when I feel a cold coming on, but I really enjoy coffee.  Well breakfast every morning in Italy was a cappuccino, some fruit, and some type of pastry.  My favorite was a croissant filled with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar.  I'll give you the secret of how I actually lost 4 pounds while I was in Italy when I do my last Eats in Italy Post.

Two days after our spectacular meal at the vineyard we were whisked away to a medieval castle for lunch.  Castello della Serre is a medieval castle that has been beautiful restored and is now a luxury hotel.  We didn't stay there, but we ate there.  Oh yes, we ate there.  This meal was actually much more reasonably sized than any other meal we had, only three courses.  And it also stands out because the meal was entirely vegetarian.  Usually I had the same first course as every one and dessert was always the same, but I always had my own main course.  But not at the castle.  And you know what?  I didn't hear anyone complain that there was no meat on their plates.  The first course was marinated, roasted bell peppers and eggplant, and an eggplant parmesan.  Delicious!

The second course was really delicious and somewhat unexpected.  It looked kind of like a manicotti, pasta rolled up and stuffed with cheese and topped with tomato sauce.  But it wasn't pasta.  It was a crepe.  And inside was a filling of cheese and spinach.  It was wonderful, and as I stated before, I didn't hear anyone at the table whining about having a meatless meal.  

And finally, dessert.  Now, I'll tell you something about myself.  I think you all know by now that I'm a dessert person.  My sweet tooth rules my body.  But did you know my all time favorite dessert is tiramisu?  Well, it is.  And I knew that I had to have it at least once while I was in Italy.  And oh my goodness.  This tiramisu...words almost fail me.  It was the perfect tiramisu, every element was simply perfection.  I ate almost the whole thing with my eyes closed thinking "I'm at a stunning castle.  In Tuscany.  Eating tiramisu.  What did I do to deserve this?"  And I will think about that piece of tiramisu for a very long time.  

While I do have some ideas for new recipes planned I would really like to take some requests!  So if you have any requests or suggestions leave a comment or e-mail me at blakebakesfl (at) gmail (dot) com!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Waffles with Strawberry Sauce

While I've enjoyed sharing pictures from my trip to Italy, and still have more of those to share, I thought it was high time to post an actual recipe.  I found the recipe for the waffles one night while stalking Food Gawker and Finding Vegan.  I no longer feel guilty about that activity since I have the whole summer off from academic responsibility.  And the motivation to make the strawberry sauce was simple; I was out of maple syrup and had strawberries in the freezer from the season's peak.  The waffles are great leftover, heated up in a toaster oven to keep them crisp.

Chocolate Chip Waffles, adapted from Mangia, Gioia!
  • 1 cup almond milk (soy, rice, whatever you've got)
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your waffle iron.  Add the dry ingredients in a large bowl and give it a quick whisk.  Mix wet ingredients in another bowl.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, don't over mix.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Prepare the waffles according to your waffle makers instructions.  Serve with homemade strawberry sauce.

Strawberry Sauce
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Cook for five minutes or so, stirring often.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.  Once cooled, blend until you reach the desired consistency.  Spoon over waffles, ice cream, etc.  It keeps in the refrigerator for a week or so, if you let it last that long.

More recipes and Italy pictures coming soon! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Best Meal I Ever Ate (Eats in Italy: Part 2)

 The majority of day three in Tuscany was spent in a family vineyard eating the most ridiculously delicious meal I've ever had in my life.  The meal started with champagne and parmesan cheese.  The owner of the vineyard, where they make their own champagne, opened the first bottle with a sword.  So the meal literally started with a bang.  The name of their champagne is Bella Bolle, which means Beautiful Bubble in Italian.  And the champagne was beautifully delicious.  Then an enormous wedge of parmesan cheese was brought out and cut into chunks.  So we sipped champagne, nibbled on the cheese, and enjoyed the amazing view of the beautiful Tuscan vineyard.  And that was just the beginning.

The meal was served family style and our group of sixteen sat at two large tables.  The wine flowed and the food never stopped coming.  First several types of antipasti were passed around the table.  I of course, sampled all the vegetarian options which was almost all of the antipasti.  Pictured are a slice of typical Tuscan bread, two crostini (one with mushroom spread, the other with a spicy tomato spread), grilled marinated eggplant, and an artichoke tart.  The mushroom crostini and artichoke tart tied for my favorite antipasti.  It was all delicious.

Wild boar are a huge problem in Tuscany, as they love feasting on grape plants.  So they are widely hunted in the region.  Because of this, wild boar was a large part of the meal and everyone was served wild boar lasagna.  Everyone except me.  And boy was everyone else missing out, because the spring vegetable lasagna, filled with asparagus and zucchini, was incredible.  It was a little salty for my palate, but it was so good that I really didn't care.  At this point in the trip I began pacing myself at meals, because I realized I would be served crazy amounts of food, but I ate every last bite of that lasagna.  Every.  Last.  Bite.

After the lasagna, but before dessert, everyone else was served stewed and sliced wild boar, while I was served eggplant marinara.  It was good, but I only managed a few bites as I was stuffed from the lasagna, and I also knew dessert would be on it's away.  And this dessert...oh my god...The highlight of the meal, and until two days later when I finally had tiramisu, it was the best dessert I had ever eaten.  Ever.  It was a pear cake served with pastry cream and macerated strawberries.  Everything about it was perfect.  I requested the recipe and am excited to recreate it at home.