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Pink and Green, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Wow, I happened to look back on a post this morning, only to find that I had missed the anniversary of my favorite place in the Cyber World…my blog. Five years has passed in no time. I have met some of the best cyber friends and fans during this time, and have actually met several of them in person during our travels. Thank you to all my readers for your support over the years!  🙂

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Happy Friday!

 

Cortona, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

As you can see, I am on a gelato kick once again. Another sweltering day here in New England and we are suffering form the heat and humidity!   During our recent return to Italy, my husband frequently enjoyed Staciatella Gelato, here is a recipe to try at home!

Straciatella Gelato
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preparation
Place milk in a medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to a simmer, whisking often. Whisk sugar, yolks, and salt in a medium bowl until well blended, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return to saucepan; stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and a thermometer registers 170°F-175°F, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain into a medium bowl. Stir in cream. Chill custard until cold, at least 2 hours.

Stir chocolate and oil in a small sauce-pan over low heat until melted; let cool.

Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Slowly add all but 1 tsp. melted chocolate during the last 30 seconds of churning (chocolate will form small chips). Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle remaining chocolate over gelato in zigzag lines. Serve immediately.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Stracciatella-Gelato-365289#ixzz1SqfH8bwI

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San Gimignano, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

We are in the midst of summer’s heat and some days there is no way to escape. I always come back to thinking about my favorite Italian Gelato! Much better than out American version of ice cream, although a close second. Ice cream brings me back to my childhood, walking a across the street to the small neighborhood store to get a .25 cent ice cream on a stick. After my first excursion to Italy nine years ago I am hooked on gelato. You see gelato is a much more flavorful, somewhat softer, less heavy and sweet, than our ice cream. Tantalizing flavors await the palate. Pistachio, pear, marscapone, chocolate, rosemary, lampone, Nutella just to name a few!

Gelato is different from some ice cream because it has a lower butterfat content. Gelato typically contains 4–8% butterfat, versus 14% for ice cream in the United States. Gelato has a higher sugar content than ice cream. Dairy based gelato contains 16–24% sugar and water and fruit based sorbet contains 24–30% sugar. Most ice cream in the United States contains 12-16% sugar. The sugar content in gelato is precisely balanced with the water content to act as an anti-freeze to prevent the gelato from freezing solid. Types of sugar used include sucrose, dextrose, and invert sugar to control apparent sweetness. Typically, gelato and Italian sorbet contain a stabilizing base. Egg yolks are used in yellow custard-based gelato flavors, including zabaione and creme caramel. Non-fat milk solids are also added to gelato.  ~ Wikipedia

Have you ever had the luxury of eating Gelato? What is your favorite flavor? 🙂

 

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Bruschetta al Pomodoro

bruschetta, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

On our recent trip to Italy we enjoyed this typical dish on several occasions with the world’s best tomatoes.

4 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons for EVOO
Course Salt and Pepper
8 slices of crusty bread
3 cloves of garlic

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, and oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Toast or grill bread lightly on both sides, then rub the garlic across the bread’s surface am then top with the tomato mixture.

Buon Appetit!!!

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Two months have some and gone since our most recent trip to Bella Italia! Some days I wonder how that could have happened. As usual most of our great memories are surrounded by great food and meals.This years adventures were no different. One evening, when returning back to the countryside to our hotel, the Hotel Park Chianti in Tavernelle Val Di Pesa, we realized it was late and we wondered what to have for dinner that night. We decided it was late and we were going to “wing it”, so as soon as we left the superstrada we took a sudden turn where we saw some restaurant signs and decided to follow them to see where we would end up!

Well the signs had us driving through the dark Tuscan countryside, as the road winded along some fields and started to climb a steep hill up to a small village. as we approached we were shocked with what we all saw…”A Castle” in the foreground! as it turns out we had stumbled upon Ristoro L’Antica Scuderia via di Passignano in Badia. We soon realized that this was not just any restaurant.

AS we entered the building we where quickly seated outside by the firepit where the chef/owner was preparing meat over an open fire. Huge bisteccas and veggies were slowly as the scent filled the patio. Dinner say at small tables enjoying intimate conversations over wine. We decided we had try to try the grass feed beef and local veggies. Much to our delight the meal arrived quickly and we all sat quietly enjoying every last morsel off bread, food, and wine that was offered to us. Conversation lingered as the night came upon us. At that point, we had decided that we indeed had taken the correct route into the darkness that night and would indeed return to this special place outside “The Castle” in Badia.

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Pizza Margherita

margarita, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

Planning for Italy 2010 is well underway! In my dreams each night Italy comes alive once again. 35 more days and sleeps till our departure makes for great dreams!!! I often have the same recurring dream, that our vacation is about to be over and I have not done everything I have wanted to do our our trip. I have the same dream each year before departure……ahhhhh. So today I am day dreaming about the best best pizza on earth!
PIZZA MARGHERITA
Ingredients

* 1 cup crushed tomatoes
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or julienned
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 1/2 pound mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
* Basic pizza dough, rolled out for 2 (12-inch) pizzas, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and, if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and process until smooth. Divide sauce between the 2 pizzas and smooth to spread evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the edges of the dough. Sprinkle basil leaves on top of sauce and then top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Finally, divide mozzarella slices between 2 pizzas, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the edges are golden brown.
Basic pizza dough — by hand method:

* 1 package active dry yeast
* 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
* 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour plus more if necessary
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, add half of the flour and mix well to thoroughly incorporate. Add all remaining flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with your hands. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 and up to 7 minutes, adding enough additional flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Divide dough into 2 portions (for 2 (12-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Transfer dough to a pizza stone. Mangia!

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Alla Checca

pomodoro, originally uploaded by The Rambling Rountrees.

WOW, 35 more days before we embark on our next Italian Adventure! I must say that I have been a bit lax at blogging over the past month, because of personal issues. But as travel comes closer I love to reminisce about our adventures with food and friends along the way. I always love a fresh pasta dish. What is not to love about pomodori and pasta! Here is a great recipe with fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients

* 5 tomatoes, seeded and diced
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* salt to taste
* 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 pound pasta

Directions

1. Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil in a non-metal bowl. Stir in salt. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit at room temperature at least 2 hours, or as long as 10 hours.
2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Pour uncooked sauce over hot pasta, and toss. Add grated Parmesan cheese to your liking.

Mangia…..Ciao!!

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