Monthly Archive for August, 2010

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio con Fritti Misti


________________________________________________________________
Despite such cool weather in NorCal this year, which resulted in our garden being a bit behind schedule, it’s August and I am again nostalgically transported into the world of Italian Summer fare. While many jest that ‘the coldest winter they ever spent was a summer in San Francisco’ (Mark Twain) – it typically remains the case ONLY in San Francisco, and seldom in the other areas of the Bay Area. Typically, once one ventures 15 minutes by car to the North, South or East of San Francisco the weather is HOT. Note, I did say ‘typically’; albeit this year would be the exception. Finally, with a batch of summer veggies at the ready, I decided to get greasy and do a plate of pasta with some friti misti (mixed fried veggies). The key to these simple dishes is good olive oil.

You can eat this fried goodness on top of pasta, on a soft baguette or even on their own.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Pasta with oil and garlic)
e Fritti Misti (and mixed fried veggies)

* note there are two ingredients lists for the two recipes provided*

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Ingredients

1 lb dried long pasta
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 TBS
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
Paprika
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1-2 TBS minced fresh herbs such as parsley, fresh oregano or a mixture (optional)
Parmesan, freshly grated

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Directions

In a large-size pot add 1 TBS oil to water and bring to boil. Once boiling add in salt and then pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, al dente and drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and heat just until the garlic turns golden. If using the red pepper flakes, add them. Set oil aside until pasta is drained. Place oil back on a medium-low flame and toss pasta, in the pan, with a light amount of salt until well coated. If the pasta seems dry add a bit of the of the pasta water to loosen it up. Add herbs and heat until warm. Serve immediately with a black pepper, and season with grated cheese.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish, or 8 if eaten with a heaping mound of pasta.



Fritti Misti Ingredients

2 zucchini, sliced length-wise 1/8 inch thick
3 yellow squash, sliced length-wise 1/8 inch thick
6 zucchini flowers
3 small Japanese Egg Plants, sliced length-wise 1/8 inch thick
parmesan cheese
olive oil
egg
flour
** paper towels**

Fritti Misti Directions

Wash, dry and cut zucchini, yellow squash and egg plant length-wise. In a pan, avoid a non-stick pan if possible for better browning results, add ½ inch of olive oil in your pan and bring to medium heat. Line a baking sheet with paper towels so that you can transfer the fried veggies over and drain off some of the olive oil. Complete all of these veggies before frying the zucchini flowers, as you do not want to risk dirtying the oil.

To prepare the zucchini flowers, remove the stamen (or stem in the middle of the flower), wash well inside and outside. Pat dry with a paper towel. Whisk egg and lightly coat flowers. Dredge flowers in flour mixed with a dash of salt and pepper and pan fry until golden brown.

Beautiful Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers in frying pan.

To truly garner an Italian summer meal flair, make a nice antipasto plate. No directions necessary, there are no rules, just a mixture of nibbles and you are ready to feast.

Island Banana Boats & Coveted Norwegian Stick Bread



Tinsley Island Part II- Food to Camp By

This last visit to the island for the summer had me chomping at the bit. On our previous boat camping/cooking escapades, I had left with a long list of new ideas to bring to our next adventure.

While no one does a shoddy job of planning their meals at Tinsley Island, my challenge was to come up with a tantalizing new adventuresome, yet uncomplicated series of meals, that enabled us to make good use of our leftovers; so that nothing on the food front had to be carried home. I am pleased to say – mission accomplished! No leftovers and an ample amount of others circling the fire pit asking about our menu and meal preparations – most importantly, the feedback received from my toughest critics made it well worth my while.

This is my summer bonus post- yes, two recipes to let you know that while I’ve been a bit challenged on uploading my recent blog updates, it was not due to lack of wanting to tell you more.

I must admit, as I sat down to plan this out, I had to think of Jane Maynard’s site as it is no easy task to put together menus. I recently ran into her at BlogHer10 in New York, and she seemed pleased not only with my menu, BUT with my modifications to make an adult version of the banana boats.

Voila! My no-left over weekend menu plan and a few recipes to savor your eats in the great outdoors.

Banana Boats (and Special Adult Dessert Modifications)

Ingredients

1 banana, slit on the concave side and slit into rounds
1-2 TBS chocolate chips
6-8 mini marshmallows, or 1 large marshmallows cut into small pieces
heavy duty foil

**Adult version modifications**
rum
lemon, squeeze of lemon wedge
honey

Directions

Lay the banana on its “back” and peel slit the top open. While in the skin, cut banana rounds every half inch. You may need to take out a few slices to make a bit more room for the yummy filling.

Stuff chocolate chips and marshmallows between the pieces. Wrap in foil and cook approximately 7-10 minutes until outside of banana skin turns dark brown.

If making the adult version, you may want to substitute the chocolate chips for a generous splash of rum, a squeeze of lemon and honey.

Serving: 1

Photo: Jane Maynard

Norwegian Stick Bread

If you found Siri’s Norwegian Sweet Buns recipe charming, you must try her Coveted Norwegian Stick Bread Recipe. On her recent visit to the United States, we brought her with us to enjoy our version of camping, and her menu contribution was wonderful. So many islanders wanted the recipe, that she agreed that we had to post it!

Ingredients

8 cups flour (I used 4 cups white flour and 4 cups wheat flour)
4 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups water
1 TBS oil
3 tsp baking powder
four for dusting
sticks for cooking bread

Directions

Wash all sticks so that they are free of dirt. Make sure that stick is wet before wrapping dough around it so that the stick does not burn in the fire.

Mix all ingredients together, dusting hands with flour, take approximately 1/2 cup of dough and wrap around the stick. Place on grill and continue to move frequently until bread is browned equally on each side.

Servings: 8-10

Step 1- You will need a few good sticks.

Step 2- Take a piece of the dough.

Step 3- Wrap dough around sticks and place on grill or in fire.

Step 4- Cook the bread until brown on all sides.

** Weekend Menu**

Friday
-dinner: Norwegian Stick Bread, pork tenderloin in a honey soy sauce glaze, grilled pineapple, roasted bell peppers and onions, and heirloom tomatoes/red onions/focaccia crouton salad
-dessert: banana boats (adult and kid-a-fied)*

Saturday
-breakfast: blueberry pancakes with pineapple and pork tenderloin hash
-lunch: grilled veggie and Swiss cheese sandwiches on focaccia, fruit salad, green salad with grilled bell pepper and fresh basil
-dinner: seasoned tri-tip, corn on the cob, sauteed zucchini and onions, grilled portobello mushrooms
-dessert: s’mores

Sunday
-breakfast: portobello, zucchini and onion scrambled eggs with Pan Fried tri-tip and broiled tomatoes, skillet toast and fresh picked blackberries and left over s’mores

Yahoo! Cherry Clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-TEE)

Last month I was invited to participate in a fantastic blogger summit hosted by the Yahoo! Mother Board. It was the first conference of its kind that I have attended since I started blogging. There were a number of things that were unique about the event that impressed me. The agenda for the sessions was targeted, relevant and robust, the bloggers were hosted by the organization which brought together a lot of wonderful thinkers/writers who may not have otherwise have had the opportunity to travel to this summit. While I was not alone in the food blogging realm of attendees, I was amongst the minority that comprised this collective group. You may wonder why I attended? Well, as a former writer for the Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog (which recently closed down its operations)- I was there to learn more about what Yahoo! had to offer me in terms of an alternate place to post my content.

While there are an ever increasing number of conferences for bloggers to attend, what I find has changed over the past few years is that the level of ‘experts’ that I am engaging with at these shows has greatly shifted, as has the overall content, which remains skewed to the entry level blogger. Those who might have been considered experts a few years may no longer be the best spokespeople, nor are these sessions the most relevant for me. This was far from the case with the Yahoo! Mother Board Summit. While I do realize that that I was presented with predominantly Yahoo! focused content, I found their business acumen approach to be worthy of my time. Yahoo! has realized that to best work with the blogging community, to expand their digital voice and footprint, they must also invest in educating their constituents about their products. Refreshing! I am constantly approached for various types of corporate projects and on one hand I do feel honored to be exposed to these various opportunities, I am very aware that many of these come with a specific expectation. I am not a stalwart writer or investigative reporter- I blog to celebrate food and fun (and occasionally technology). While I remain unconvinced that I want to make blogging or cooking my full time career, I adore keeping this world as my coveted hobby/passion project. I maintain this space because I like to be here. I like to talk to you..whomever you are…and some-days I even think someone may be listening to my random thoughts on fun and food. I am not convinced that my site is about advertising revenue, or that I want to blog daily, but I do want to curl up on my sofa with my laptop and share some words and thoughts and engage with this exciting frontier of cyber space.

While I debated just telling you about the content presented, which ties closely to my professional comfort zone, I did think we could meet half way and I could share with you my new favorite recipe with PURPLE INGREDIENTS (the same color as the famous Yahoo! logo) in appreciation to the folks at Yahoo! Mother Board for having the vision and foresight to assemble such a stellar summit. And for those whom wish to know more about the summit, scroll down to the bottom of the post for a few more insights.

Now time for foodie fun- purple food! Cherry Clafoutis or clafouti (pronounced kla-foo-TEE) is a rustic looking French country dessert from the Limousin region that has become very popular in North America. Traditionally it was made with the first sweet cherries of the season, and the cherries were left unpitted so their kernels could release their delicate almond flavor as they baked. It is a bit of a pudding of sorts, with the sweet cherries covered by a thin pancake-like batter and baked in a hot oven until the batter has set with nicely browned and slightly puffed edges. The clafoutis should be served immediately with a dusting of confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar. Et voilà!


Cherry Clafoutis

Ingredients

1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
4 TBS powdered sugar, plus a sprinkle
1 TBS + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups (about 3/4 pound) mixed fresh Bing (or Rainier) cherries; stemmed, rinsed, drained on paper towels, pitted, and left whole (frozen pitted cherries are an easy alternative to use as well)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
6 TBS flour
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted
2 TBS sliced almonds
1 TBS honey
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBS kirsch (optional)
1 cup creme fraiche (optional)

Directions

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Center a rack in the middle of the oven.

Rub approximately 1 TBS softened butter over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch oven-proof glass pie pan. Dust with 2 TBS powdered sugar, then about 1 TBS granulated sugar and tap out any excess; set aside.

Arrange the cherries over the bottom of the prepared pie pan.

In a blender or food processor, combine the half-and-half, eggs, flour, butter, the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, almonds, honey, vanilla, salt and kirsch (if using). Process until it forms a creamy, smooth batter.

Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake approximately 30-35 minutes, until the custard is golden brown around the edges and puffy yet firm in the middle.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top with 2 TBS of powdered sugar. (It will deflate as it cools). Eat warm or at room temperature.
Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Adapted from Bay Area baking expert Flo Braker’s latest book is “Baking for All Occasions” (Chronicle Books).


And if you need a bit of reading while devouring your dessert, I shall continue to tell the tale of the Yahoo! Mother Board…

The Four Seasons in Palo Alto was the backdrop that kicked off this lovely roof-top cabana clad event. The cocktail party was well done and as people arrived from their flights they filtered into the location creating a fun filled room of both conversation and tweets. While the after party migrated downstairs to the main bar, and few other room parties took center stage things didn’t run late into the night as we all knew that the morning would come early and we wanted to be well rested.

The summit topics ranged from services like how to optimize your SEO, Social product offerings, utilizing your network, Flickr to a powerful session on Online Safety that showed a tragic video of cyber bulling gone horribly wrong. There was so much content that my mind was spinning, I’ve only provided a glimpse of the topics broached. Hats off to Jeanne Moeschler and Amy Heinz for acknowledging the value of bloggers and for Elisa Steel, Mother and Yahoo! CMO, for being brave enough to personally speak to this audience – it’s not easy talking to a group of bloggers who hardly look at you when you speak amidst the laptops and cell phone tweets and blog posts. That said, no one is better suited to talk to a group of people that appear not to be listening than a mother!

Yahoo! Mother Board Factoids:
– Yahoo!’s has grown its network from 16 to 80 smart, savvy, influential women bloggers
– On Friday, July 16th, it took less than an hour for the 62 summit attendees to have two trending topics on Twitter—Elisa Steele (proud mom and CMO keynote speaker) and #ymotherboard
– Attendees at this summit cover topics ranging from living a vegan lifestyle to the impact of political issues on moms—from across the U.S. and Canada
– This summit was dubbed “the mother of all conferences”, conversations were sparked between the 62 attendees and Yahoos from Shine, Flickr, Yahoo! Safely, Yahoo! for Good, Yahoo! Green, Social Products, Yahoo! Editorial, Yahoo! Accessibility and Ad Products.

A few photographic outtakes to bring this experience into color!

Vanessa Druck, Jessica Rosenberg, Lindsey Krolik, Gina von, Jennifer Perillo

Gina and Ilina Ewens finally meet!

Gina and Stacy Libby

Other great posts from this summit. (And a picture of the rice krispie treats with purple M&Ms)

Yahoo! Mother Board Summit Exceeds All Expectations

Yahoo! Mother Board Summit: The Mother of All Conferences

Yahoo!’s Mother of All Conferences

I went to the Yahoo! Mother Board Summit and all I got was this wonderful time.

The Yahoo! Mother Board Summit

Yahoo! The Mother of All Dirty Martinis