25 Aug 2010

Home sweet home

Crostini with spiced pork patty, celery cream and yellow peach

Almost one week ago I finally arrived in Sicily. Right out of the plane, my home land welcomed me with a warm sunny embrace, relaxing and comforting.
It has been a few years since I last visited my family during the summer season. I had forgotten the mood, the still atmosphere, the crave for that breeze in the evening, the blinding sun, the suffocating heat, the singing cicadas, the sleepy cats spread over the shadowy ground; I had forgotten the Sicilian summer symbolon.

Already the day after my arrival it was farmers’ market day in my town. Sacrificing few hours of sleep, I joined my mother for a walk among the various stands. The day was sunny and not too warm; after a ride among the flock of innumerable cars all slowly approaching the city center with their occupant, we reached the market area. The first stalls to welcome us were those of clothes, shoes and other bric-a-brac. After finalizing few errands, we entered the food area inside the old soccer stadium.

20 Aug 2010

The decision has been made

Here we go, also for this month the PaperChef challenge has gone by and, judging from the submissions, surely not unnoticed; the hosts (Ilva and Mikey) have received in total 10 submissions.
As monthly co-host my duty was to choose a winner among them. Let me first remind you the ingredients you were supposed to use in your creative efforts: Dried cranberries, dates, candied orange peel and flour.
It was very interesting to see what these magic four have inspired in you. The entries may be divided in roughly 3 groups: leavened goodies, savories and baked desserts.
Let's start with the breads and rolls.

To Karen from Prospect in the Pantry, the monthly ingredients were simply speaking tea-times with her siblings in Scotland. She wanted to share with us the relaxed and elegant atmosphere of these occasions with a Date-Nut Bread with Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese.

12 Aug 2010

It is not always black or white

Middle Eastern raviolo served with cranberry-sage butter sauce, fresh peach crescents and thyme leaves

You probably have noticed already that this month I was pleased to host among this creative walls one of the most interesting challenge out there in the blogosphere: Paper Chef.
Strangely from the usual chaotic recipe development process, the first idea to come out and to be scribbled over one of my notebooks was the winner. Do not get me wrong, I wrote down short of a tenth of candidate dishes but either sleepiness or the recognition of a sparkle of efficiency made me concentrate on the first pasta dish.
The perfect Teutonic efficiency stops here because it was only when I had almost completed the dish that I realized one of the four PaperChef’s ingredients in my head was wron. Peaches went in instead of candied orange peel. No big drama, the two fit quite well with each other so, more fun for our papillae!
What I propose you today is a sweet and earthy savory dish, a really lovely and elegant one that I really won’t mind having in a tete-a-tete dinner by the candle light even if with a mirror.
Cutting it short, here I present you my

Middle Eastern raviolo served with cranberry-sage butter sauce, fresh peach crescents and thyme leaves

Middle Eastern raviolo served with cranberry-sage butter sauce, fresh peach crescents and thyme leaves

4 Aug 2010

The ultimate Cheesecake and August PaperChef

The ultimate Cheesecake

The past July I was honored to win the monthly PaperChef challenge with my Seared salmon fillet glazed with a raspberry sauce and served with a zucchini and rice timbale and black-eyed peas cooked with mint and garlic. Karen of Prospect the Pantry was so surprised by my raspberry and cumin sauce that she passed me the honor of co-hosting this creative challenge for the month of August. My duties will be to choose the 4 new ingredients and the monthly winner to whom to pass the palm for September's challenge. How do these ingredients get chosen? The hosts of this challenge Ilva of Lucullian Delights and Mikey of Spikey Mikey’s will post a list of ingredients over at PaperChef to which everybody can add their owns simply by commenting.
Back to August challenge, I decided to sort alphabetically the final ingredients that Mikey emailed me this morning allowing me to eliminate a few doubles, Random.org was then appointed with the hard job of drawing the four random numbers out of the 56 ingredients. And the winning ingredients for PaperChef's 55th round are: