Roasted Italian-style potatoes

My wife and I absolutely loved our honeymoon in Italy. Italy was my first international trip and we both can’t wait to go back…whenever that day might be. Of the many fantastic experiences, food ranked pretty highly–we had some of the best meals ever while we were there, and so of course, when I got back home, I had to try to mimic some of them. This side dish is one such attempt. I’m sure an authentic version would be far simpler to prepare, but I suppose I can claim immunity by not being Italian, right? But rest assured, the flavors are definitely there.

Roasted potatoes

For the uninitiated, eating out in Italy is a little different than here in the USA. For instance, whereas here you might order an appetizer, meal, and dessert, over there (and I’m sure in many other countries), you were more likely to order a starter, a first course (which you might characterize as being similar… click to read more…

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Pumpkin Gnocchi in brown butter herb sauce

So it seems that a lot of people know that they have heard of gnocchi before (pronounced “nyo key”) but they don’t really know what it actually is and have never tried it. Despite being listed alongside pasta dishes, gnocchi is not a pasta, but is actually a kind of Italian dumpling. Also worth noting is that gnocchi is not stuffed with anything, but rather incorporates all of the major flavors into the actual dough, which when cooked just right, can give you that tender center. It is usually based on a starch and flour-centric dough, containing things like potato, squash, ricotta, spinach, or today’s focus (what with October rolling around the corner): pumpkin.

Pumpkin gnocchi in brown butter herb sauce

Now if you’ve heard anything about gnocchi being hard to make, its not–its just a time consuming endeavor that requires care and patience (sounds believable, right? 😮 ). But if you’ve ever had a really good plate of gnocchi before, you know that its worth… click to read more…

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Pecan Pie

I always loved pecan pie growing up, and being next-door to Georgia is all the more reason for making this classic southern dessert.

Slice of pecan pie

But there’s something peculiar about pecan pie–what on earth is it made of? The toasted, crunchy pecan topping is obvious, but what is that filling? Its soft, custardy, delicious, but its just a weird thing to identify compared to say, an apple pie where the filling isn’t exactly a big secret. Believe it or not, as far as pies go, this one is probably one of the quickest and easiest to make and the filling is actually very simple: eggs, brown sugar, and corn syrup. And it is also my entry in September’s In the Bag, hosted this month by Real Epicurean. The theme this month is to make a dish using seasonal… click to read more…

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Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie is a great dish with a weird name. I almost hate calling it by that name because it doesn’t sound appetizing and the name is so uninformative–its not a pie and has absolutely nothing tamale-like about it. Its sort of a tex-mex flavored casserole held together with ground beef, cornbread, and a salsa-like mixture. Its crumbly like cornbread, moist, and zesty. And for something tex-mex, its very comfort-foodish.

Serving of tamale pie w/avocado and sour cream

I was inspired by the version of tamale pie from Simply Recipes and was surprised to learn that this is actually a commonplace dish. Prepare yourself for some really heavy news: I never encountered tamale pie growing up.

For me, this dish is nice because you can easily make it from a lot of fresh ingredients or substitute in some pre-made components with ease. I try to strike a middle ground, keeping it full of… click to read more…

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Michael Burgers!

This is what started it all. The one thing that I got good at before I could really cook.

For me, cooking started as a college-time exploration of marinate it in some storebought sauce, throw it (and all of the sauce) on the George Foreman grill, and then see what happens–yikes! But this dish wasn’t in that category: burgers. They were easy to prepare, cheap, and fed a crowd with ease. And what a crowd-pleaser! People asked for these–and not “hey, could you make burgers?” but “hey, I could really go for some Michael Burgers!” This made it seem like I was on to something…

Burger time

I’m going to wax philosophical here, but I think a big part of it is simply that people have really grown accustomed to flavorless, flat, dull burgers with a slice of (to quote Gordon Ramsay) plastic cheese on top. Nobody really expects anything from a burger, so this is a dish where you can… click to read more…

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Plum Almond Tart

I regularly read Smitten Kitchen and somewhat recently saw a post about Plum-Almond Tarts and couldn’t resist trying to bake one for myself. They looked great, plums are in season, I like plums and almonds, so why not?

Plum Almond Tart

I wasn’t at my best in the kitchen that day–I substituted my own crust recipe assuming it would work out about the same, but in the end, simply had too much crust. And then, not sure why, but the pie filling just refused to set, so in trying to wait it out, ultimately, my too-much-crust kind of burnt. And it seems that for some reason, I had it my head that I needed to peel the plums. However, in the end, despite all of the mistakes, the flavors were fantastic and despite my experience, I would highly recommend baking this. The dessert was light and tart (tart?… click to read more…

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