Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pollo Blu - Chicken Breasts with Gorgonzola

This recipe is all about beautiful flavors. Another recipe from Mauro at Assagio Ristorante. I had this in his restaurant for lunch with friends a few weeks ago and it was delicious. I changed the recipe (slightly) to fit a few taste buds in the household (I omitted the mushrooms and the Dijon mustard in this recipe) and to make sure that my 12 year old ate it, by omitting the mushrooms (she still has not acquired a taste for mushrooms).

Chicken made with a delicious Gorgonzola cream sauce. I served this dish with penne and a slice of prosciutto topped with a fresh sage leaf from my friend's garden (Christi Meshell).
Grazie Mauro for an easy dish filled with beautiful flavors!

Porchetta con Portobello - Stuffed Pork Chops with Portobello Mushrooms and Risotto

Finally, after a few weeks of a busy schedule at the hospital, I am able to do what I like best...COOKING for my family.

Another delicious recipe prepared by me, that was inspired by the one and only Seattle Owner and Chef of Assagio Ristorante, Mauro Golmarvi. I had the pleasure of meeting Mauro and getting my cookbook autographed by him after eating at his restaurant again. To Mauro's credit, the recipe was delicious, but of course, I altered a few things. You can buy his cook book from or Amazon.

Stuffed the 1 1/2 inch think pork chop with prosciutto, pecorino toscano cheese and fresh sage leaves.

All four porchetta's stuffed and drizzled with olive oil, salt and the special herbs from Tuscany from Duccio Fontani's farm in Castellina in Chianti. Bravo!

After grilling the Porchetta 12 minutes on each side, the flavors from the stuffing melt inside bursting from inside out. The Porchetta sealed nicely and the cheese did not seep through the slit on the side. Beautiful.
The reduced wine sauce was made with portobello mushrooms, red wine, olive oil, garlic and beef broth.
I made a Risotto with portobello mushrooms that was delicious. The flavors all blended nicely and complimented each other.
Buon Appetito!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ravioli al Pesce con Tartufo

This was definitely one of Dave's favorite recipes. "Ravioli with Halibut and Truffles". It was mouth watering delicious!!!

You will see that the pasta I made was inspired by my lessons in Italy at La Petraia. It was a lot of fun for me to make this at home, but I missed having my friend Krista beside me and making this together with her in Italy.

The ingredient for the pasta: 1 large egg (weighing 65 grams on a scale), 100 grams of flour (3/4 cup). I learned that weighing your liquids (in this recipe the liquid is considered the egg) and your flour with a scale, is better than measuring with (cups), so that you get consistent texture all the time. A side note: I learned that most Bakers use a scale to weigh their ingredients for consistency and are conscientious of the room temperature when making dough. AHA, that's the secret.

Make a well in the middle of your flour mound.

Place the egg in the middle of the well and begin to beat slightly with a fork. As you are beating the egg, start to incorporate the flower to the center of the well. As your dough starts to come together, sprinkle your surface with light flower so that your dough does not stick to the surface. Once it is all incorporated, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and a little stiff. Chef Susan Grant describes the consistency of the dough as "playdough".

You need a lot of patience for this recipe if you are making this by hand. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Kneading for approximately 10 minutes.

Roll out your dough by beginning in the middle. Rotate your dough frequently (both sides) as you are rolling it out. Once your dough is not able to roll out anymore, your dough is done. By this time, you should slightly see the bottom of your surface through the dough, but not TOO thin that it will tear.
Once the dough is rolled out, I folded it in half and then in half again, so that it fits in my pasta sheet rollers. I started on #1 on the pasta sheet roller and worked my way up to #7. Note: Each time you place the dough in the roller, you move up one number at a time. My pasta sheet roller goes up to 10, but I rarely go that thin with pasta. When my dough was ready, I made some plain dough cut-outs for the Ravioli in two different shapes. I then took the other half of the dough and pressed basil leaves and put it through the pasta sheet roller again to press it together.

Fresh Ravioli with Halibut and Truffles with a light tomatoe sauce (home made).

For the Stuffing: Sadie's Poached Halibut Cheek Recipe

One Halibut Cheek

2 Tbsp of butter

2 Tbsp of Dry Vermouth

1/2 lemon (juiced)

1 tsp truffle

salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in pre-heated saute pan. Add the vermouth and the juice of 1/2 lemon. On low heat, add halibut, salt and freshly ground black pepper and saute for about 1 minute. Turn, cover and finish cooking on the other side, for a total cooking time of about 5-8 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish. (Start with the lower amount; overcooked halibut is dry and stringy; cook until flaky and tender). Cool the halibut on a plate.

In a mixing bowl, place cooled halibut cheek and add the tsp of truffle and mix together.

That is it, you now have your stuffing for the Ravioli.

This recipe was made ad-hoc and I am sure I can add other spices to it, but the truffles was enough to make it taste DELICIOUS!!!

Penne with Beef Ragu

Typically, this recipe is made in Italy with Wild Boar, which is delicious and very tasty. However, here in Seattle, it's not so easy to find Wild Boar at Larry's Market and/or any grocery store that is readily available. You have to order it ahead of time and pay a healthy price for it. So, I selected a very nice cut of beef and I had my butcher at Larry's Market grind it for me with his special blades. When it is minced, the meat has the tiniest bits and not chunks, as you would buy when it is pre-minced in packages. Also, this recipe is best accompanied with Pappardelle pasta, but I selected to make it with Penne as it was easier for me on a work day. Over the weekend, I will have time to make my own Pappardelle and cook this recipe with Wild Boar (pre-ordered at Larry's).

The original recipe belongs to Chef Susan Grant from her cook book "PIANO PIANO PIENO" which is interpreted as "Slowly Slowly Full" in English. It's a lovely cook book and written by Chef Susan Grant with lots of passion for cooking and lots of love. I would totally recommend buying this book. The recipe you find in here is my own recipe with my interpretation of Ragu and with Chef Susan Grant's assistance, I was able to alter a few things in my recipe to make it MUCH MORE tastier than when I made it before my lessons in Italy!! Buon Appetito!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

And More Zucchini Flowers from Mari's Garden

A few days after the first zucchini flowers were given to me by my friend Mari, she brings a bunch for me and my family to enjoy!! Look how beautiful they are and they were just as delicious!

Zucchini Flowers At Last

After going to several markets in our area (Woodinville, Redmond, Kirkland and Seattle), and not having any luck finding zucchini flowers, all it took was a conversation with a friend at work (Mari) to find out that she's got loads of zucchini's in her garden. So, the next day, Mari brings me the most beautiful zucchini flowers, to my delight. I could not wait to get home and cook them along with some sage leaves. Yum. Thank you Mari!!Light batter for the flowers and the sage leaves.

Ready to eat....Zucchini flowers and sage leaves fried and sprinkled with Susan Grant's "Sale alla Lavanda" (which means lavender salt in English) from Italy.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tuscan Apple Pie/Torta di Mele Montagliari

This recipe was directly from Judy's web site : I baked two Torta's and I am so glad that I did, because it was gone within 24 hours. It was delicious!

Sadie's Preparation with ingredients:

Bravo! The final touches with powdered sugar before it got devoured by my family. Thank you Judy for the delicious recipe!!!

Market Day in Seattle

The Girls were so happy to have their Mum back home!!! They were also very excited to go to the Seattle Market. We had a lovely lunch at our favorite French restaurant "Place Piggali".

First day back from Italy and off we went to the Seattle Market to teach Nadia and Suraya all about the Market...

I could not wait to go to the Market in Seattle. This time, it's not just a quick tour around the Market, get some Starbuck's coffee, eat a croissant from Le Panier and then go home. No, we actually took time looking for fresh fruits, vegetables and visited the Market Butcher. I was also on the hunt for zucchini flowers, but no one in the market had any. I got the strangest looks and was asked, hm? zucchini flowers? What are you going to do with the flowers? So, everything I learned from Judy Witts at Divina Cucina, was flowing out of my brain. Some of the farmers were quite intrigued about the fact that the flowers were edible. One actually said to return next Friday and he will have some for me instead of throwing them away. A day of lessons for the girls and a few of our local farmers. :-)

Let's see what the want-to-be Chef (Sadie) comes up with all these vegetables, fruits and meat from the market.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Visiting England, Family and Friends

We arrived early afternoon on Monday. Our flight on the jumbo plane was absolutely wonderful.

We were surprised at the airport to see Alan at the airport to welcome us to England. Alan is my father-in-law. Unfortunately, we've just found out, a little over 4 weeks ago, that he's got lymphoma and has had two sessions of chemo to date. He managed to have his best friend of 40+ years drive him to the airport to welcome us. As you can imagine, the minute I saw this darling man standing at the exit of immigration, we all cried. Alan is in good spirits and hopes to survive this wicked illness.

Our first day in Gerrards cross (where my father-in-law lives) which happens to be quite posh, we went for a stroll in the Village. The girls were absolutely thrilled to know that they were allowed to go into the Village alone, it is safe and definitely a different life style than what we are used to in the States.

Second day - Alan was not feeling so well. I was able to sit and visit with him for an hour early in the morning 4:30a.m. and chat with him before Dave woke up. It was a special time for me as I love that man so much. He is truly a wonderful man with a big heart. In many ways, he reminds me of my own father (God rest his soul).

The temperature was extremely hot (the hottest day in England so far) 98 degrees. We decided to leave the house and take the girls to Windsor Castle.

The girls loved touring through Windsor. The view from the castle is breath taking. Looks like the Queen was home, but we never received an invite for the afternoon tea. Oh well. :-)

We stopped to eat just a few short feet away from the castle in Eton Village. Interesting that the age to enter the pub is 12 and older. So, the girls can say for the first time that they have been to a Pub.

We visited Dave's old village where he grew up. The girls were thrilled to see where Daddy went to school, where he lived (Witney Close) and where he used to ride his motorcycle on the lovely roads through the country. We also took time to visit Dave's step-mother's grave site. We do this every time we visit England. This time, we had the girls with us and it made it quite special for Dave to share this moment with us. We purchased a lovely white rose plant and Dave planted it for Maggie. Very emotional moment for Dave as he adored his step-mother, whom died at a very young age.

The rest of the afternoon was a lovely drive through the country side. The girls favorite game during the drive was looking for the funniest signs on the side of the road; "Give Way", "Kill Your Speed", "Humps for the next 30km", "Senior Citizen Crossing",
"Children Crossing", etc. driving on the left side of the narrow roads was a thrill for the girls as well as they watched cars "Give Way" while driving at high speeds. I held my breath many times.

Back to Gerrards Cross for a proper British BBQ with a game of cricket. We were exhausted by the time everyone left at 11:00p.m.

The following day we spent the day in London and went to St. Catherine's, took a boat tour, rode on the train and the Underground and shopped with the girls in Piccadilly Circus. We had a lovely afternoon.

The next day was spent at Dave's sister's home with her family. Julie (his sister), Jonathan (her husband), Lauren and Edward (their children) were absolutely lovely. We enjoyed an afternoon tea with them and had a great dinner outdoors in their garden.

It was so nice to see Suraya and Nadia play with their cousins. They had such a great time there, they did not want to leave. It was very special as we were able to pick the kids up from their school and surprise them. They indeed, were very surprised and happy. Lauren especially, seeing her Uncle Dave. It was very sweet.

The following day was spent with Auntie Audrey and her husband Derek. We had the most beautiful day with both of them. Nadia and Suraya loved chatting with Audrey. Auntie Audrey had so many stories to tell the girls, that they spent almost an hour chatting. This was darling. Since the girls don't have any auntie's from my side of the family, they really cherished these moments. The girls even told her how much they loved her. It really touched my heart. Of course, Dave was very pleased and happy to be able to see his Auntie again. He really loves her a lot!!

Off we went the following day to Mark and Pippa's house for the day and night and then off to France.

Our visit with Mark and Pippa was all about the twins (Poppy and Edward) as they are darling little kids. The girls really enjoyed being around them for the first hour and then they got exhausted. The twins have a lot of energy.

Ending our trip in England was sad. The girls wanted to visit with Grandpa Alan again and Auntie Audrey. Personally, I would just have visited family over friends at this point in the trip because it would have been a lot more special to us to be able to visit with Alan for a few more days.

All in all, the trip was fun and we are all ready to go back to visit again someday soon. The girls definitely preferred the country side over the city (just like their mum). :-)