I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve had many crises in the kitchen – ones that make me want to throw up my hands, walk away from the stove and head to the nearest Chipotle. It’s not often that it happens, but it certainly does happen. I’ve found that I’m much less critical of what I’m eating if I’m the one who made it, so it takes a lot for me to completely give up. Not giving up usually leads to a little improv and obscene amounts of cheese, which can mask the greatest of errors.Putting down a couple beers can also make near disasters seem not so disastrous. The following recipe is the result of one such averted crisis.
What was initially going to be carne asada enchiladas turned into carne asada enchilada bake, thanks to the unworkability of my defrosted tortillas? I realize that the jump from enchiladas to enchilada bake is not a huge one, but believe me, it was a frustrating one. I know from experience that, while maybe not ideal, it is possible to freeze tortillas, defrost them, and use them as you would normally. I’m not sure if it was the specific brand of tortillas I was using, the length of time they’d been in my freezer, or just bad luck, but I was only able to separate a few of them without ripping them in half. And, oh my god, you know what?
Sometimes I don’t realize why things didn’t go according to plan until I am writing about it on here. Here I am whining about the stupid, unworkable tortillas, and then it dawned on me that I am a complete bonehead. I was about to say that the tortillas ended up brittle when I realized that I was preparing them for the wrong dish. Have you ever made migas before? You know the part where you fry the tortillas in a little hot oil to crisp them up before mixing them with the eggs? That’s what I did with my tortillas, except I wasn’t making migas! When you make enchiladas you are supposed to soften the tortillas by quickly warming them in the oven, not by crisping them up in hot oil. Sometimes I wonder how I got into law school. Or even college.
In hindsight, I guess I could have made enchiladas with the tortillas that I had, although few of them remained intact after defrosting. Had I made enchiladas, however, I would not have realized that I could make a lazy man’s version of them, bypassing the wrapping process and creating a lasagna-like dish.
When you get a piece of truly spectacular cookware, it only makes sense that you break it in with truly spectacular food. So what better way to use my new Le Creuset Dutch oven than to cook lobster? You can definitely try this recipe with macaroni and cheese recipe as both complements each other taste.
After reading the instructions on how to properly use my new pot about fifty times and reading about how to boil lobster about twenty times, our two lobster tails were cooking away and I was squealing with glee.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt. Add the lobsters/lobster tails.
When the water returns to a boil, set a timer. For one pound of lobster, cook it for about 8 minutes. Add 3-4 minutes for each additional pound. You can also use a meat thermometer to check doneness; it will be done at 140 degrees.
Drain the lobster, and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Because we had to postpone our lobster cooking, we had frozen our lobsters in a sealed freezer bag the day we bought them and transferred them to the refrigerator the day before cooking so that they could slowly thaw out.
While the lobster was boiling I melted some ghee to use for dipping. You could clarify your own butter, but since I had a jar of ghee I thought I’d save myself the work.…
As much as I love cheese, I’m not a huge macaroni and cheese person. Sure, I ate my fair share of it when I was a kid, treasured shipments of Easy Mac when I was abroad, and still occasionally buy a box to keep in the cupboard, but to give you an idea of how infrequently I eat it I will tell you that a box of macaroni and cheese is good for at least two years beyond its expiration date. Slightly disturbing, but true.
My indifference to macaroni and cheese applies to eating it in restaurants as well as eating it from a box. I’ve had a few bites of Matt’s mac and cheese from Joe’s Garage, but I would never order it for myself because I would much rather blow calories on their fries with basil aioli. The same goes for Yum – I would choose their crispy fries with red pepper aioli over their mac and cheese any day. A few weeks ago, though, my mom, Matt, and I were eating at Nick and Eddie, and it turned out to be one of those rare occasions when mac and cheese sounded really good. To be completely honest it was the lobster that was mixed in with it more than the cheesy noodles themselves that prompted me to order it, but the bottom line is I picked mac and cheese over fish and chips. So basically, fries with good dipping sauces trump macaroni and cheese, but lobster trumps fries.
Although I have no problem going long periods of time without a dose of cheesy noodles, sometimes I do eat it more often than once a year. When I was home over Thanksgiving I went through the collection of old magazines that had been accumulating in the rack next to my bed, pitching a couple old copies of Vanity Fair and W before stumbling upon an issue of Saveur. It dated back to April 2005 (vintage!) and the theme was “American Artisanal Cheese.” I still can’t figure out how I had the good sense to buy it back then, but then I let it sit around for four and a half years before making use of it. When I saw the recipe for macaroni and cheese I knew I had to make up for lost time. It was my call to duty.
1 lb. tube-shaped pasta
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. flour
3 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 lb. aged cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp. coarse breadcrumbs
Although the recipe calls for a pound of aged cheddar, I couldn’t get myself to spring for an entire pound of pricey cheese. I went with a little less than half a pound of Dubliner and supplemented that with cheaper stuff. In hindsight, it would have only set me back a few more bucks to just stick with the aged variety, but the combination of the two produced a perfectly acceptable result so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.
On a side note, I heard on NPR last week that most of the cheddar you buy at the store (like the variety on the left) is only a few months old at most. It came up in a discussion of a 15-year-old cheddar from Wisconsin that’s selling for $50/pound.
Start by cooking your pasta until it’s not quite cooked through. The recipe suggests cooking it for 6-7 minutes, the box of rigatoni I used said 14 minutes until al dente, and I cooked this for about 8-10 minutes. After cooking the pasta, drain it, rinse it with cold water, and drain it again. Set it aside while you work on the sauce.
As far as types of pasta go you can use penne, rigatoni, macaroni or any other tube-shaped pasta you like.
While the pasta is boiling, grate the cheese. I just kind of guessed with amounts. You need about 4 1/2 cups, and I probably had a generous 4 1/2 cups.
Have your onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme ready.
Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Cook for several minutes until the onion softens.
While that’s cooking, get the remaining ingredients ready. The only white-ish wine I had was a bottle of vinho verde that had been opened in my fridge for long enough that it had lost its fizz, and I don’t think it hurt the quality of the dish.
Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Discard the herbs and the garlic, and add the flour. Cook for one minute. I’m not sure if I overestimated the amount of time the wine was cooking or not, but most of the liquid had cooked off by the time I added the flour.
Slowly add the milk and then the mustard. The recipe tells you to reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, but I didn’t have any kind of simmer to maintain after I added the milk. I guess I added it too quickly, so if you run into the same problem bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce the heat.
Now we get to the exciting part – constantly stirring the mixture for 30 minutes! I suggest timing the cooking so this part coincides with an episode of Jeopardy. That way you can learn fun(ny) things while stirring. Did you know that another name for chewing tobacco is West Virginia coleslaw?
Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 at some point in here.
After 30 minutes or so the mixture should be thick and creamy and will coat the back of a spoon. Here’s a little tip: slippery rubber spatulas are not as good of a tester as an actual spoon.
Do you love cookies and cakes? Would you like to start baking these amazing food items at home? Well, before you start taking out your apron and baking tools, there are a few things you must know which was taught to me on my first day in Mocaria Restaurant, Castellabate. Baking is easy if you follow the recipe properly and use the exact amount of ingredients when doing so.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to experiment but common sense does play an important part when you are baking something.
Here is a list of things that you should know before you start baking:
Never skip the recipe
A lot of people don’t read the recipe carefully and just skip most of the parts which can lead to not so good baked food. You might think that as long as you put in the same ingredients or the ingredients which resemble the recipe ingredients, it is all good right? However, it is not.
This was one of the first things that I learned when I was taking baking classes at TruffleNation. While baking cookies and cakes, it is important that you follow the recipe strictly and only use the ingredients in the quantity that is mentioned if you want your baked item to turn out to be good.
Understand your oven
Another thing to keep in mind is that before you start baking, you need to learn how your oven works.
Test the different functions and modes in it and determine which function would help you bake your cookies better and which will be more suitable for a pie. Trust me, knowing about your oven goes a long way in helping you bake the most delicious items.
Difference between Baking Powder and Baking Soda
A lot of people often confuse between the function of a baking soda and a baking powder. While both of these items are necessary to bake a cake, you still need to learn the difference so that you use the correct amount and not overdo it.
A baking soda is a reason for the fluffiness of the cake as it reacts with acid to release CO2 whereas a baking powder will ensure that the CO2 is released throughout the process and your cake or muffins look spongy and soft.
Types of Flours
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of flours available but not all are useful when baking something. All-purpose flour and Self-Rising flour are usually good for cakes, cookies, and muffins while other flours can be used for other baked goods. So, make sure you learn about different types of flours before you start baking.
Egg yolks and whites
Egg whites are found to be quite useful in holding the ingredients together while egg yolks can add richness to cakes and cookies. It is important that one learns the uses of both these egg contents before using them for baking.
Proper implementation of butter and oil
Another thing to keep in mind is the usage of butter and oil.
Some recipes require you to use oil and some require you to use the butter at a certain temperature so it is important that you learn the importance of these different types of ingredients and then finally start baking.…
You might have noticed that a lot of people, especially bakers, tend to install a Bronze Kitchen Faucet in their kitchens and might have always wondered why. While there are a lot of kitchen faucet materials available out there, what makes bronze so appealing to most users?
Bronze kitchen faucets are preferable to most users because of these simple advantages:
Easy to Install
One of the main reasons why people choose a bronze kitchen faucet is that it is easy to install. You can install it on the countertop of your kitchen or your kitchen island and won’t need any external tools to help you out with the process.
You just need a manual to guide you through the process and you are all set to install your own kitchen faucet. If you still find it a little complicated to understand, you can always ask a handyman to install it for you.
Another reason which makes bronze kitchen faucets better than other material kitchen faucets is that it is durable and tends to last longer. A purely bronze made kitchen faucet will be sturdier and less likely to get damaged soon which makes it a perfect fit for most people. You will not need to replace a bronze kitchen faucet for years to come and proper maintenance will reduce the need for any repair or fixes too.
Several designs are available
Another advantage of using a bronze kitchen faucet is that it offers you a lot of options in terms of style and design. You will find both single and double lever faucet in bronze and the color and look of it often enhances your kitchen style and provides a contemporary look at it. Although you would find designs in several other materials too, Bronze kitchen faucets are more versatile in design and provide more options to the customers.
Finishing lasts longer
One of the best advantages of using a Bronze kitchen faucet is that its finishing lasts longer than other material finishing so you don’t have to worry about it rusting soon. You will also find that maintaining its finish is easier and you can keep it looking shiny and new with simple and easy cleanup routines.
This will keep your kitchen faucet looking new for a longer time and will give your kitchen the high-end look that you always wanted.
Gives a classy look
This is one of the popular advantages of using a bronze kitchen faucet, it provides a high-end look to your kitchen. The texture, style and its finishing often make these faucets more desirable and can make it difficult for you to choose just one for your kitchen. You can easily get these faucets under $200.
However, if you are able to decide on a faucet which appeals to your taste and needs then you can rest assured that your kitchen will look completely fantastic and out of this world.
Don’t believe my word for it? Then go and try for yourself and see how you fall in love with your Bronze kitchen faucet in just one glance! Check out this short video to know more.
It’s really coming around quick now and it’s kinda scary lol, feel like the past few weeks have flown by and it’s only 7 weeks today till we fly off to the beautiful Italian sun, In fact this time in 7 weeks ill be sitting in my bikini by the pool sipping on a nice cold beer! or probably limoncello actually as Julie insists I have to try some very popular Italian tipple so I’m told, to be honest, I’m game for any kind of alcohol.
which is funny as Julie has just informed me she has never tried vodka before, yes you heard me right! She never tried vodka before, well my mission is to get her having a few cheeky ones whilst we are in Italy!
Anyway back to the wedding! It’s been very busy the past few weeks, been sorting out all the last bits for decorations and getting my makeup, jewelry, something old, something borrowed sorted! now I’m on a mission to find a suitable travel case for my beautiful dress to be transported in, obviously, I will be taken as hand luggage as knowing my luck it would get lost in transit and I’d be walking down the aisle in my bikini I’m sure Joe wouldn’t mind.
So really it’s very much a countdown at the minute, getting to sort all the nice things out like choosing the food for the bbq, mmm! beach bbq with lovely Italian food, making me hungry thinking about it!, writing our vows, picking the music, sorting a few nice surprises for the day which I can’t disclose on here I’m afraid as some of our guests read this! Julie has been great though with everything, been on hand to give advice and make suggestions.
So the Countdown is This:
4 weeks and 3 days till my hen do (eek! I’m scared, no idea what or where my maid of honor has in store!)
7 weeks today till we are in Italy
7 weeks and 3 days till our beautiful wedding day
8 weeks and 3 days till our wedding reception back home…
So in my last blog I told you about our journey over to the wonderful Santa Maria and getting to our hotel, The Garden Riviera now I’m going to tell you about the place itself and what we got up to on our first day! you’re probably thinking one whole blog shouldn’t account for only one day however you will see why it does when you have finished reading!
So on Tuesday when we arrived, after the initial surprise of the hotel we quickly got changed and got into our poolside gear it was a scorching 40c so we needed to be in as little clothing as possible lol, plus I wanted to get my tan on!
It was so quiet in our hotel, we were literally the only ones there apart from another older couple but we didn’t really see them, we had the WHOLE pool to ourselves which was such a treat! it was so peaceful and after such a long journey it was just heaven, to be honest. We had some lunch with Julie at the hotel and I must say, they really do the best food! not overly expensive, about 7euros for a pasta dish which was a big portion!
After a few hours sunning ourselves, we arranged to meet Julie, later on, to take a walk into town so she could show us around and meet people, well we didn’t really know what to expect or who we were going to meet as I just thought that people wouldn’t really know who we were and not be that interested! how wrong I was!
To be honest i felt pretty famous out there, the pink bride, Julie took us round to meet some truly wonderful people, from Rosanna (who owns the Lido where we had our reception and also a beautiful little flower/decoration shop) to Baffo who owns the best gelato shop I’ve ever come across! you just have to visit him whilst your there as he does such a fab selection of ice cream and sorbets and at a very good price.
She took us into the local cheese shop where we tasted some fine (and strong!) cheeses and spoke to the lovely owners; we met a number of people who owned the bars that we spent quite a bit of time in Bella Ville and Bar Yogurteria; we went to the flower shop and chose our flowers for the wedding party which was such a nice touch as I wasn’t sure if I would get to do this, the guys who own the shop Veronica and Luiji did such a wonderful job of our flowers.
Julie also showed us round a couple of restaurants and more shops and took us for a walk around the town and along the beachfront where we came across our wedding venue, Torre Perrotti and our reception venue, Lido Azzurro.
I can’t explain how you feel when you see these places, I’ve seen so many pictures beforehand but nothing can do them justice, we both felt quite emotional and so overwhelmed by it all, brings a lump to my throat now thinking about when I first saw TP.…
Sorry, I haven’t blogged in a few weeks, I’ve been manic sorting out all sorts of things from bridesmaids outfits to wedding decorations to legal documents! It’s been really busy getting all the last main things finalized so now I just have lots of little bits left to sort which I’m told are the best bits!
I can’t quite believe its only 3 months till the wedding, well 12 weeks tomorrow!! It has gone so quick it’s unreal, the past few weeks have pretty much been me Internet shopping for all things pink, sparkly and twinkly, as well as getting my girlies sorted with their dresses, which are just beautiful and exactly what I wanted and we also went jewellery and shoe shopping last weekend, which by the way buying their shoes has been the hardest part of the whole planning!
Tip for brides: if your dress shop lets you go and try things on with your dress before your final fitting I would definitely recommend this!
Another very important thing we have done is obtain the legal documents to marry in Italy! It was so exciting! Not quite sure how someone could get excited over 2 bits of paper but well I did. We had to meet with the registrar and have a little meeting where we gave the notice to marry and had to do it separately, is quite surreal, to be honest, and it really makes you realize what you are actually doing!
We now have the papers after waiting 16 days for them to be issued and it’s such a great feeling I’m actually getting married, WE are getting married and it’s all legal now! Makes you realise that it’s such a wonderful thing to be doing, not to mention being one of the most important days in your lifetime, it’s not something that should be entered into lightly and you should treasure it, I for one can’t wait to get married to the man I love and I know he feels the same about me!
Now all the important stuff is out of the way, it’s time for organising the fun things, However I will admit to having my first freak out the other day nothing, in particular, triggered it,I was just sat at my desk at work and realised how quick it’s coming around and started freaking out about the ceremony of all things.
What music we are having, when it’s played, the readings, the vows, when we walk down the aisle and what we do after, So much to think about! It’s not like here where you pretty much get told where and when things will happen, you get to plan it however you want it which is so exciting! But also a little nerve wracking!
Next for me is more shopping, Shopping for my jewelry and underwear, for my mom’s outfit, for my maid of honors present and also for lots more sparkly pretty things to finish off my decorations for Italy!
But I will blog next week and let you know how I’m getting on, as now it’s full steam ahead with pretty much everything for Italy and I have our party back home to sort out too!…
As you leave Santa Maria and head up to the village of Castellabate, there is a sign just before you arrive at the village for Mocaria, the most stylish restaurant in the area, lovingly owned and managed by Tonino, He used the have the largest discotheque in southern Italy.
As you arrive at the restaurant you will see the Mocaria VW Beetle in the car park, surrounded by flower pots and a welcome sign. As you go into the restaurant, you will be blown away for sure. Mocaria has breathtaking views over Santa Maria and the Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri Romantic or what? Built on 2 levels there is a big outdoor seating area and the smaller terrace pictured below. There is seating inside, with a fantastic wine cellar, and then a lower level with a bar where you can sit and relax with a drink, or dance the night away.
Tonino will give you a very warm welcome and you will feel really at home, as he delights you with an extensive choice of food, all locally sourced. He knows his stuff where wine is concerned and will tempt you with the very best wines to accompany your chosen dish. A favorite dessert of mine at Mocaria is the chocolate pudding.. it is better than you know what!!! A must try for sure.
Mocaria is the perfect venue for a wedding or wedding reception. This year, Keith and Sara tie the knot on the terrace on the 6th June and then will enjoy canapés and dinner. More couples will enjoy dinner here with live music, dancing, and fireworks during the balmy summer nights of 2012.
What do I love most about Mocaria? I have to say it is the warmth of the host, the professional staff, (food of course) and most importantly the attention to detail. Nothing is too much trouble, and last year Tonino and his wife Marissa spent two days prior to the wedding of Dave and Kate on 9th June 2011 setting the scene for the wedding reception, and adding lots of tiny details that really enhanced the evening such as local flavours, and a love poem from Mocaria.…
What can I tell you about Santa Maria di Castellabate? Well, it is where many brides and grooms have headed along with their family and friends this year to tie the knot, under the Italian sunshine. Santa Maria is still a secret destination and many people have never heard of it if you blink you will miss it but it is featured is some holiday brochures. Most of the hotels My Secret Italy work closely with are not, however, to be found in any of the brochures, and remain secret spots.
The closest international airport is Naples, and from there you head south for about 2 hours until you come to the resort itself. Santa Maria boasts one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, and it has been awarded the Blue Flag for many years now. Dotted along the beach there are Lidos (beach bars/restaurants)
One famous one that has been there for many years is the Lido Azzurro, run by my dear friends Franco and Rosanna, a very stylish couple who work extremely hard each summer to welcome guests and cook the most delightful, fresh, lunches whilst you sit and enjoy a glass of local wine or prosecco and marvel at the sea crashing against the shore.
It is now possible to marry on this stretch of beach and then dine under the stars as you and your wedding guests enjoy fantastic local dishes, fresh fish and meat, a groovy local band and also you can end your magical day with some aquatic fireworks. Perfect..
Not only does Santa Maria have a fabulous beach, but the town itself is a treasure. As you arrive in the heart of Santa Maria you will see Bar Belleville in the center, next to the square and the town hall. This is my favorite place to sit and watch the world go by. A great place to be on a weekend before lunch as the locals descend on the bar to enjoy a pre-lunch drink, with nibbles provided by the bar.
The owner is called Tonino and he looks after My Secret Italy guests! This is a meeting place for My Secret Italy and we will all get together when you arrive for a drink and I will introduce you all to Tonino and his family. He likes to offer a welcome cocktail, so of course, we have to take him up on that.
From Belleville you walk along the main high street which is called the Corso. It takes about 20 minutes to wander past the shops until you reach Padre Pio Square at the end of the Corso. Just before you reach the end of the Corso, on the right, there is a cute bar called Pibaro, great coffee, pizza, and TV just in case any football is on!
La Buffalina Deli You will find this along with the Corso, to the right opposite the fish shop. Here you will find friendly owners, and a wide selection of wines, cheeses, local bread, and so much more. If you are going to the beach, they will even make up a delicious Panini for you.
Some local products to try would be of course, Buffalo Mozzarella, it really melts in your mouth. If you wanted to visit a local farm and see how the cheese is produced, then let me know and I can arrange this for you. Local wine to try is Kleos, produced by Luiji Maffini, a local guy from San Marco. Try Kratos (Crisp White) or Kleos red. Another popular Maffini wine is Cenito.
Whilst you wander down the Corso, pass the fish shop to your left, and a tad further on you will find Profumeria Monia. Please stop by and say hello to Monia and ask to sample Aqua delba, one of my favourite scents. Great for a present.
Another divine shop along the Corso on the right, is Amodio.. ladies. .shoes, bags and belts.. heaven in Italy! Pascuale is the owner and he will offer My Secret Italy guests a good discount, last year I bought some sandals with Swarovski crystals in them.…