In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ephemeral.”
Affogato (Italian translation: “drowned”)
An indulgent combination of rich, creamy icecream drowned in hot espresso and – should you be so inclined – a sweet drop of your favourite liqueur (traditionally amaretto, but I’m personally very partial to Frangelico for a lovely hint of hazelnut).
For it to work, however, it must be prepared in the most fleeting of moments…
Dessert, coffee and a nightcap all in one…what more can one ask for?
Look out world – here comes yet another blogging event..!
In this fast-paced world it can be very difficult to find the time or energy to tick off all those items on your ‘to-do’ list, or let your creative juices flow and make something…let alone give yourself a pat on the back if you manage to do so!
The “I Made It! Monday” weekly blog event gives you the chance to take stock of the week that was and share your greatest (or favourite) achievement of the previous seven days with your some of your biggest supporters – the blogging community!
To make it super simple, there are no set themes each week; it’s just a case of searching your memory banks until you find that “Aha!” moment and then blogging about it. No matter how seemingly trivial or monumental your achievement may seem (a small win is a win, am I right?) – if you finished/did/made/achieved/got through it, we want to hear about it!
Pasta is such a versatile ingredient – whether you use dried, fresh or handmade, you’re pretty much assured a quick, easy and – best of all – relatively cheap meal (unless, of course, you choose to lace it with champagne, lobster, and freshly shaved truffles and the like). I’m not ashamed to admit that if it wasn’t for those jars of ready-made pasta sauce you can buy at any supermarket, I probably would have survived on little more than scrambled eggs or tinned spaghetti when I first left home…we all have to start somewhere!
However, with the help of the Super Food Ideas magazine, countless Australian Women’s Weekly recipe books and the likes of Donna Hay, Nigella and Jamie, it wasn’t long before I discovered just how easy it is to turn a humble bowl of pasta into something delicious using fresh ingredients and home-made sauces. With Chef Claudio, I had the opportunity to take it one step further and learn how to make fresh pasta with an egg, plain flour and my own two hands (no machine required). Although we declared at the time that we would never cook with packet pasta again, I must confess it is still a staple item in our pantry (or fridge, when we get the fresh pasta).
I was first introduced to the salty-but-sweet, rich, creamy goodness of Spaghetti Alla Carbonara while I was working in a lovely little Italian cafe-restaurant in my late teens; several years later I started looking for recipes in order to try it myself, aware of the fact that it would never measure up to Chef Jan’s beautiful dish.
Over time, my versions of this dish have changed quite considerably, based on the recipes I’d sought out, and whatever ingredients I had in my possession at the time. Once again, Chef Claudio came to the rescue.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to throw away the cream, tins of evaporated milk, and any preconceptions you had about what constituted a true Carbonara…
Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (alla Chef Claudio)
400g spaghetti (or other pasta of choice – I sometimes use fettucine or spiral pasta)
4 eggs, beaten
200g prosciutto (or bacon)
2 TBS milk
salt and pepper
Note: Besides the measurements (I tend to use less eggs), the only variation I make to this recipe is to cook chopped mushrooms with the prosciutto…they work beautifully in the recipe.
Thanks again to B.TX for setting up this challenge! Please join in and support this wonderful weekly event!
If you couldn’t tell, I can’t resist a foodie blog event, so I was very excited to discover that Glai from Oh, My Glai! (another one of my fellow Blogging101 graduates) recently created a monthly challenge called Flavour of the Month. Consider me on board!
I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant when I saw that this month’s flavour was mango, as it really isn’t one of my favourite foods at all (although I can’t put my finger exactly what it is about mangoes I don’t like…go figure!) However, there was one occasion in particular where my opinion of the humble mango was completely swayed in the opposite direction.
I was on holiday with my Other Half in Koh Samui, Thailand a few years back and we were scouring the menu for something sweet to finish off the delicious Tapas lunch we had just enjoyed (more about that in a future post). Immediately, my coconut icecream-seeking radar hit the jackpot – I was so excited that I didn’t notice that it was served with mango, and therefore missed the opportunity to politely request the dessert be served without it.
When it arrived, I couldn’t wait to sink my spoon into the cool, delicious icecream, but because I was on holiday and feeling rather generous, I decided to give the mango one last chance to prove itself.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Never in my life had I tasted something so sweet, juicy and delicious! The mango was so fresh, it was still warm from the sun that it had been basking in before it was gently plucked from the tree only several minutes beforehand.
Unfortunately the photo below doesn’t do a great job of representing the mango itself (as previously mentioned, it was the coconut icecream I was particularly enthused with, and once I’d started on my dessert, there was no stopping me until my plate was clear), but I’m sure you get the idea:
I couldn’t possibly omit mention of another magical mango moment in my life…
Although it was several months ago, I still dream about my very good friend’s delicious summer pavlova we enjoyed at a pre-Christmas picnic. She had pre-prepared the perfectly light-and-crisp-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside meringue, and decorated it before our very (tempted) eyes under the trees. Instead of the traditional kiwi fruit or strawberries, she chose to give the topping a tropical twist with freshly-sliced banana and mango. It was (to say the least) absolutely di-vine!
Needless to say there was nary a crumb left! Mango-licious indeed…
Where does one start when it comes to cheese? With countless options for preparing and serving the extensive types of cheese offered at varying levels in maturity and style, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint my absolute favourite! Rather than fry my brain trying to make a decision, I thought I was best to go with the easy option – cheesecake.
A few years ago I picked up this great little book called Nibbles, which contains recipes for sweet and savoury ‘finger foods’ that are ideal for serving at parties and other special occasions. To this day, I don’t think I’ve tried any other recipe apart from the one I’m about to share with you, but I have already gotten my money’s worth on this one alone. It’s a keeper, for sure!
Not only are these mini cheesecakes delicious (and the perfect size for entertaining a small crowd), they are extremely easy to prepare. Also, unlike full-size cheesecakes, you only need one packet of cream cheese…bonus!
Note: I’ve omitted the blueberry sauce portion of the recipe you’ll find in the book – I believe the cheesecakes work just as well without it.
90g gingersnap biscuits*
40g unsalted butter, melted
250g cream cheese at room temperature
½ C caster sugar
1½ TBS plain (all purpose) flour
1 TBS lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
150g (1 Cup) fresh blueberries**
* I use Butternut Snap biscuits – not sure if that’s a fair substitute, but it works for me
** Frozen is fine if – like me – you freeze punnets of fresh berries as soon as you buy them (they’re never on special when you need them!) I can’t vouch for the success (or otherwise) of pre-packed frozen berries, though.
I’ve made these little gems enough times to feel confident enough to try slight variations on the recipe, including:
adding passionfruit syrup to the mixture and omitting the blueberries; or
adding crushed strawberries to the mix, replacing the blueberries with fresh strawberries and drizzling white chocolate over the cooled cheesecakes.
Passionfruit variation on the left
Strawberry variation ready for the oven
Strawberry variation set and ready to serve
Thanks again to B.TX for setting up this challenge! Please join in and support this wonderful weekly event! I look forward to seeing your cheese-a-licious recipes!
If I have to break one rule here, it’s that ALL of these images have to do with food (it kind of goes with the territory of having a specifically-themed blog), but I have gone for a bit of variety in terms of where they were taken.
It’s amazing just how much food comes in all shades of orange (and how many random food-related shots I take at any given time)…!
Base ingredients for Marsala Pork
Blossom the Travel Bunny captivated on Portobello Rd, London
A bag o’ oranges, Swan Valley, WA
Little St. Patrick’s day meringues
Chef Claudio’s kitchen, Tuscany
The cafe/bar at the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
Mint Fizz cocktail, Koh Samui
Fabulous pizzeria window display, Notting Hill, London
Donna Hay makes a comeback in my response to this week’s ‘My Favourite Recipe’ challenge which is (ladies and gentlemen)…the one and only, no-introductions-necessary, gloriously decadent…chocolate.
Funnily enough, though, there is no actual chocolate in this recipe – well, not of the dreamily-sweet-glossy-dark-chunks-of-heaven variety, that is. However, it does fulfill the difficult task of satisfying even the strongest chocolate craving with the help of just a few pantry staples…and this is why I love (and rely on) it so much.
My contribution is a little late this time, but I couldn’t resist this week’s ingredient, which is tomato. Pomello. Tomate. Tomaat. To-may-to, to-mah-to.
Is there anything a tomato can’t do or add to a dish? In most cases fresh is best, but even when using the canned variety, you can always guarantee tomatoes will added freshness to any cuisine; from the richness of a tomato-infused pasta sauce, to a refreshing burst of soaked-up flavour in a spicy Mee Goreng or Tom Yum soup.
It’s so, so hard to pick just one favourite dish for such a versatile ingredient, but for me, the simplest meals are often the best. And if there are special travel-related memories attached, the votes increase tenfold!
Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad)
A taste of summer in the glorious colours of the Italian flag. I’ve enjoyed this recipe many a time – prepared in slightly different ways, but always with the same fresh ingredients. Of course, the most amazing ones I’ve eaten were in Italy (nothing beats a fresh, juicy Italian tomato), but I still very distinctly remember my first proper Caprese, which my travelling companion and I enjoyed with a delicious Garlic Prawn and Basil pizza and crisp Sem Sav Blanc on the banks of Circular Quay with the Sydney Harbour Bridge directly in front of us. It was pure bliss.
Fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella, torn or sliced*
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
* If you can find/afford it, buffalo mozzarella is the most authentic; if not, a cow’s milk variety is perfectly reasonable. In my example below, I’ve used bocconcini (baby mozzarella), and it is perfectly lovely in my non-expert, non-Italian opinion…
Arrange tomatoes, basil leaves and mozzarella on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Note: some eagle-eyes may spot a speck of balsamic vinegar on my home-made version. This is based purely on personal taste and in no way an authentic addition to the recipe, which is why I’ve left it off of the ingredient list.
Simple. Beautiful. Delicious. How do you like your Insalata Caprese?
Circular Quay, Sydney
Thanks to my fellow Blogging101 graduate B.TX for setting up this challenge! I look forward to seeing all the different mouth-watering ways everyone interprets the ingredients each week.