A neighbor called to ask if I could make treats for another neighbor’s future daughter in law’s wedding shower (did you follow that?) and of course I said yes then she told that the shower was going to be a camping shower and that all of the food was going to be on sticks! So I told her I’d get back to her when I had a chance to think about it for a bit and then one day it hit me, S’Mores Cake Pops! Camping, check! On a stick, double check! I was very proud of myself. So anyways here they are in all their camping and stick glory! I had some cake balls in the freezer from the last time that I made cake pops (go here for “Basic Cake Pops” recipe) then just dipped them in chocolate candy melts, sprinkled graham cracker crumbs over the freshly dipped pops and then topped with a mini marshmallow. Ta Da! Congrats to Eva and Mitch on your upcoming wedding!
And now the pasta! We were close to a town called Trapani while in Sicily and this is their signature dish which I ordered probably 4 – 5 times while in Sicily. It is delicious! This recipe came close, perhaps as close as I’ll be able to get, it was pretty good. I brought the pasta home with me from my favorite town in Sicily called Eriche, from a cute little bakery. I’m sure you could use any pasta shape but this first time I wanted to make it for the fam with the pasta that they use. I found the recipe on a blog called “Gourmantine’s Blog”.
250 grams Busiate or any other type pasta
50 grams almonds
4 ripe tomatoes
a good handful of fresh basil leaves, about 20
2 garlic cloves
40 grams Pecorino cheese (Parmesan)
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 If your almonds are with skin, start by peeling them. To peel, blanch almonds by adding them to boiling water for 1 minute, drain and wash with cold water. Dry with paper towels and most of the skins will come off immediately. For the rest, taking 1 at a time, pinch the almond on the end and it will come off.
2 Next, toast the almonds for a few minutes in a non stick pan, this will bring out their aroma and sharpen the taste. (I just toasted mine in the microwave for a few minutes, until they started to smell fragrant and turn lightly brown, keep an eye on them because they can burn easily and then your microwave will smell terrible!)
3 With a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with some salt, add almonds and basil and continue to crush till you are happy with the texture adding olive oil as needed, season with salt and pepper. (I’ve been looking for a mortar and pestle for years and found this one in Eriche so I brought it home and christened it with this recipe!)
4 To peel the tomatoes, make a shallow X on the bottom and dip them in boiling water for 30 – 60 seconds. Then quickly take them out to a bowl of ice water to prevent further cooking. Drain, peel, core, remove seeds and chop flesh.
5 Gently mix the tomatoes with the pesto and cheese.
6 Boil pasta until al dente and serve with fresh pesto alla Trapanese on top.
Next up, Bruschetta! Oh, how I love the Bruschetta! I found this version of the recipe on the All Recipes website and it was delicious. There are other versions out there but this one seemed pretty close to what I was eating in Sicily and I ate a lot of it!
8 Roma or plum tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 loaf French bread, toasted and sliced (check out Costco because I found some great Italian bread there that was perfect for this)
In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, basil, cheese and garlic. Mix in vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Let sit in fridge for 1 – 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. When ready to serve, place bread slices on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Place under broiler for 1 – 2 minutes or until bread is just starting to brown and is slightly crispy. Top with Bruschetta and serve.
I promised the fam that when I got home I would make them an Italian dinner with some of the things that I loved best while eating my way through Sicily so last night we gathered together and dined Italian style out on our deck in the beautiful Spring weather! First up, Caprese Salad which I ate a lot of in both this form and in sandwiches. They all seemed a little unsure of this one but they all tried it and all loved it even Courtney who is the pickiest among our family. It’s super easy to make but I went to the Food Network site just to make sure I was doing it right.
3 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1 pound fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/4″ thick slices (I actually found fresh Mozzarella at Costco and bonus, it was already sliced!)
20 – 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil (I found a fresh basil plant at Winco that you just keep in water and cut leaves off as you need them, smells so good!)
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper
Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and Mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each (the basil leaves were so huge that I cut them up rather than put a whole leaf on each, didn’t want anyone freaked out by too much basil their first time around), on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
As mentioned previously, I just returned from a 5 week work trip in Sicily and London and I’m not going to lie to you all, I ate my way through both places and enjoyed every single minute and bite of it! If you subscribe to my blog then you know what a foodie I am, I can’t think of anything at all about food that I don’t like except for not getting to eat as much of it as I would like. I’m just going to share a few of my culinary experiences with you as we all might get sick if I show them all to you as I ate more than my fair share of pasta, pizza, pastries and gelato while in Sicily and fish and chips and pastries in London. So up first is the best thing that I ate in Sicily which I can’t remember what it was called but basically you’re looking at a pile of cream puffs covered in chocolate and more cream and chocolate sprinkles or sugar or both and it was divine! I wanted more and more and more! This one came from a paticceria in a town called Monreale right across the square from the Monreale Cathedral which by the way was one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever seen in my life so I guess it’s only fitting that I ate one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life right near it! I had one other one, that one was dark chocolate, from a paticceria in a darling little town called San Vito Lo Capo, both were to die for! So if you’re ever in either of those two places, make sure you find this and have at least one for me and one for you and don’t forget to report back to me!
Next up, in London, the famous store Harrods where I had the best Napolean I’ve ever eaten in my life and it was worth every bit of the 4 pounds it cost me. I also had a dark chocolate walnut brownie with chocolate ganache which was super tasty too but the Napolean won my heart so much that on another trip into the city, I bought two more! Also in the pastry case was this lovely cake called a “Devil’s Dog Cake” which reminded me of the Devil Dogs I used to eat as a kid (anyone else remember those?) which I also wanted to buy and sample but that seemed a bit extreme so I refrained.
And finally my lunch from a little cafe called Gail’s that we found while walking towards the British Museum. The first picture is a Brioche roll covered in bacon, mushrooms and caramelized onions, I cannot even begin to describe to you how delicious this was and then next to it is something that they called Chocolate Fondante which is also almost indescribable but I think it was a flourless chocolate cake. It was cake like on the outside and then fudge like on the inside, insanely good!
So there is just a taste (get it, taste? ha!) of my eating adventures in Europe. Stay tuned because this weekend I’m going to attempt to make one of the pasta dishes that I had in Sicily and fell in love with and ordered about five times I think, hopefully it will turn out ok. See you then.
And here is the other adorable cake that Cort made while I was gone, a Harry Potter Birthday cake! I think she did such a good job on this one, the sorting hat is amazing! It is almost too fun to eat! I was really sad to miss out on the making of this one. Happy Birthday to Cort’s friend (sorry that I can’t remember her name) and congrats to Cort on another job well done!
While I was gone, my daughter Courtney did some cake making/decorating without me which I was sorry to miss out on because both of them looked like fun! This one was a Reveal the Gender cake for her friend Brie’s baby shower. I think it came out just darling! I love the bees flying around the sides. It’s a girl so the cake inside was a bright pink. I think that is an adorable way to let everyone know about the baby. Congrats to Brie and way to go Cort!