May 30, 2013

Italy, Pizza, and Naples

Pizza is the favored food of many a people throughout the globe so I couldn't resist sharing a pizza recipe from non other than NAPLES, ITALY.



                                Margherita Pizza



Who invented pizza? 

Pizza style dishes (flatbreads with toppings) were eaten by many folks living in the Mediterranean including the Greeks. However history states that baker Raffaele Esposito of Naples, Italy who owned a tavern called "Pizzeria di Pietro" introduced his style of pizza in 1889.

Raffaele Esposito was requested to prepare a pizza for Queen Margherita who traveled to Naples with King Umberto. The King and Queen liked the taste of the pizza and the rest as they say is history.

If you have the fortune of owning a wood burning oven or know someone that does this recipe for Pizza Margherita is hard to beat.

                           PIZZA MARGHERITA (Naples, Italy)

DOUGH
500 grams of Molino Caputo (Italian flour)
325 grams of water
10 grams of salt
3 grams of active dry yeast

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl by hand; fast for five minutes and slow for 2 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rise for about
two hours.

Shape the dough into three balls. Dust the pizza balls with flour and store under a damp towel on a tray. Let the pizza balls rest on the tray for about an hour.

After an hour the fun begins when it's time to shape the balls into flat disks. You can shape them one at a time. Shape the dough into a flat disk, stretch and turn the disk until it's thin. Place on a floured work surface once the dough is shaped.

TOMATO SAUCE
1 can tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Mash the tomatoes until they turn into a good consistent sauce.
Add the other ingredients.

ASSEMBLING THE PIZZA
Put tomato sauce on the pizzas, a big handful or two of chopped mozzarella cheese, and a bunch of fresh basil. 

Transfer the pizza's on a metal pizza peel and put them in the wood fire oven. Baking time should be 5-8 minutes. It depends on the wood fire oven used.

If your like me and don't own a wood fire oven you can still make this pizza in a regular oven. Baking time for the Margherita Pizza in a regular oven is about 15-20 minutes. It's the heat from the fire of a wood fire oven that makes for such a tasty pizza.

ENJOY PIZZA WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE WORLD!

Naples, Italy (Pizzeria's)
                                                               

www.brandi.itwww.brandi.it/  Pizzeria Brandi







May 29, 2013

When in ITALY....

When in ITALY it's not always easy to choose where to head. Afterall ITALY has a lot to offer;


Capri and the Amalfi Coast
The island of Sicily
Stunning Sardinia
Artistic Florence
Remarkable Rome
The Alps
Enchanting Venice
Cinque Terre
Assisi
Milan
Naples

the list goes on                            

                                                   Picture Perfect CINQUE TERRE
                                                                                               flicker
                                                                                       
                                                 

One visit to ITALY just isn't enough unless you can stay for a whole year which would be absolutely "perfecto."

WIth summer just around the corner one of the most gorgeous places to visit in ITALY is CINQUE TERRE. This Italian Riviera with its five picturesque villages clinging to breath-taking cliffs is the perfect place to have a vacation.

While in the Cinque Terre region be certain to swim in the water, snorkel, enjoy the few sandy beaches, and hike the famous trail known as the Via deli' Amore. For a more challenging hike that can take up to five hours try the "Cinque Terre Trail."

Accommodations fill up quickly in Cinque Terre so it's wise to book ahead for a room at a hotel or private home. The five villages that make up the Cinque Terre are Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, and Vernazza.

One can easily enjoy a relaxing week in the Cinque Terre without leaving the vicinity but a good day trip is a visit to PISA where one of the most photographed towers in Italy is located; the Leaning Tower. The leaning tower, ((Campanile) is an eight story carved architecture wonder with open-air arches. Other top attractions in Pisa are the Battistero and Duomo.



                                                           Leaning Tower, PISA


With its breath-taking cliffs, charming fishing villages, stunning walking trails, spectacular seaside views and relaxing atmosphere the CINQUE TERRE region of ITALY is the perfect
place to spend a vacation you'll never forget.

PLACES TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE:

Corniglia:  http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g187818-Corniglia_Cinque_Terre_Italian_Riviera_Liguria-Hotels.html

Manarola:  http://www.hotelmarinapiccola.com/hotel/en/

Vernazza: Albergo Barbara


HOSTEL IN CINQUE TERRE: (Budget Lodging)


Hostel Cinque Terre      http://www.hostel5terre.com/

May 22, 2013

Italy and Wine

                                                                courtesy of biz journals

Cool mountain air currents combined with the warmth of the Mediterranean sunshine make ITALY a prime wine producing country. 

The grapevines of boot-shaped ITALY intrigue wine connoisseurs from around the world who enjoy Italian wine with meals or just plain solo. The Italians love their vino and are proud of the 20 wine regions that scatter throughout their lovely country.

Chianti (Tuscany), Barolo (Piedmont), Soave (Veneto), Nero d Avola (Sicily), and Pinot Grigio (Umbria) are just a few of the hundreds of wines to sample when traveling through ITALY.

Whether you find yourself along the lengthy coastline, the Alps region, one of the islands, or somewhere in between there's nothing more Italian than drinking wine.
Italian Wine Merchant

May 15, 2013

Italy and Cappuccino

One thing not to miss when traveling through ITALY is a cup of cappuccino. No matter where you find yourself in ITALY; there's nothing more relaxing than sipping cappuccino at an outdoor cafe.

A double shot of expresso combined with serveral ounces of steamed milk and poured into a cup is one of the world's tastiest beverages. The key to the perfect cup of cappuccino is frothing the milk properly.

If you really love CAPPUCCINO it's worth investing in a good Italian made cappuccino maker!

                                                 Courtesy of Dreamstime

May 14, 2013

Pasta in Italy

What would a trip to Italy be without eating some pasta? The Italians love their pasta and with good reason. There are countless ways to prepare pasta dishes it just depends what your taste buds are seeking. 

Basil season has arrived to many parts of the world and I recommend making a pesto sauce to combine with your linguine or spaghetti. Here it is:

                                    
                                PESTO AND PASTA

1 cup loosely packed parsley
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 cups toasted walnut halves (optional)
5 garlic cloves, peeled 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil



To make the pesto; place the parsley, basil leaves, garlic cloves, and sea salt into a blender or food processor and pulse several times. Pour the olive oil into the blender or food processor and combine with the other ingredients. You can add 2 cups of walnut halves (toasted) to the mix for extra flavor. 

Boil one pound of linguine or spaghetti in a large pot.  Once the linguine or spaghetti is cooked drain it and then toss it with about 1 cup of the pesto sauce.

Place the basil & parsley pasta on plates and sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan on top.

The leftover pesto sauce can be used for later. It's best to place the leftover pesto in a glass jar. Add a bit of olive oil to keep it moist. The pesto can be refrigerated for one week after being made.

 Buon Appetito!


May 10, 2013

A Taste of Italy...

ITALY feels like home to me; the scenery is a work of art, the people are as warm as the sun, the opera is music to the ears, and the food is beyond perfection. I'm glad my Mother gave me an Italian name (Adrianna) because my heart truly belongs to ITALY.

Assisi, Brindisi, Como, Florence, Genoa, Lecce, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Siena, Turin, Udine, and Venice are just a few of the places I've ventured through while in Italy and food tasting was something I just couldn't resist. I'd like to share a recipe a chef in Venice game me when I was eating at a local restaurant in Venice. Fried Green Olives are a very popular appetizer in Venice thanks to the abundance of olive trees that grow in beautiful Italy. For this recipe using green olives is the best choice.

To learn more about Venice, click here.


                                       FRIED GREEN OLIVES

40 pitted green olives (not packed with oil)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten

Place the olives in a bowl of cold water for about an hour.
Drain and rinse the olives in a strainer and allow them to dry.
Roll the olives in the flour then dip them in the beaten eggs.
Press the olives gently into the bread crumbs and places them on a plate.
Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet until the oil is hot. Once the oil is hot place the olives inside the skillet until they turn golden on both sides. Remove with a spoon or thongs and place the olives on a plate or tray for eating.

Enjoy them with a glass of wine!!





May 4, 2013

I R A N (A young nation at the crossroads of Asia and Europe)


Although I've never been to IRAN I'm able to write about it thanks to my friend Mahmood who was kind enough to share a bit about the country he was born and raised in.

Most tourists must have a visa to enter IRAN!

IRAN is located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. It's a young nation with a very ancient history. Covering an area of 636,296 square miles, it takes about 10 days to drive through the whole country.

IRAN is a land of mountains, volcanos, lakes and plains. The Caspian Sea the largest lake in the world is also the largest producer of caviar (eggs of the sturgeon fish). Ninety percent of  the world's caviar comes from four different types of sturgeon found in the Caspian Sea.
Caviar nicknamed "black pearls" is one of the most expensive and sought after food in the world. "Caviar" is not something Iranians eat on a daily basis.

Iranian dishes consist of rice served with heavy meat and vegetable stews in a combination of sweet and sour flavors. Popular dishes include meat and fried eggplant with sour grapes in tomato sauce and chicken in ground walnut and pomegranate sauce. Soups, kebabs, green herbs and dried fruits are very much enjoyed. Iranians are fond of yogurt and use yogurt in many dishes including refreshing drinks. Pastries such as baklava and rice pudding are a dessert staple. Not to be missed are the pistachio nuts which are some of the best tasting in the world.

Persian carpets are a true work of art and found in first class places like mansions and grand hotels in other parts of the world but in IRAN every household has a beautiful carpet handmade by the woman of the house. These carpets are often the only furniture in an Iranian household and are kept on the floor for sitting, sleeping, and praying. The finest Persian carpets are produced by master weavers in urban workshops.  They're often made of silk and contain thousands of fine knots per square foot.

The official language of Iran is Persian, also known as Farsi. A typical school day for children is Saturday to Wednesday from 8:00 am - 11:30 am and 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm. Thursdays and Fridays are the off days and on this day families and friends gather to worship in Mosques or to do other things such as shopping. Iranian children study a variety of subjects ranging from Chemistry to History to Physics.

Iranians are very sociable people. They like to get together with family and friends. Popular gathering spots are teahouses, cafes, and restaurants.  Iranians also enjoy sports such as skiing, volleyball, and soccer. Soccer is the closest thing to a national sport in IRAN. Every city has a soccer team. 

Ramazan or Ramadan takes places the ninth month of the Arabic Islamic calendar. It is a month of fasting. During this time no adult Muslim should eat, drink, or smoke during daylight hours. At mosques, pray leaders use loudspeakers to announce the sunset prayers , which signify the end of the day's fast. After a month of fasting the end of Ramadan is celebrated at the sight of a new moon, and three days of feasting known as Eid-e-Fetr.

The Bazaars of Iran (bazaar is the Farsi word for market) consist of many small shops and businesses within a sheltered, enclosed area. Many bazaars are located underground, down a flight of stairs. The array of goods to be found is quite astonishing.





                                                   IRAN AT A GLANCE:

The official language is FARSI. 
Currency is called RIAL.
The official religion is ISLAM.
The capital of IRAN is TEHRAN.
Hamadan is one of the oldest cities of not only IRAN but the world.

P E R S E P O L I S  was once a complex of palaces. Today Persepolis serves as a valuable archaeological site to learn of ancient Persians. The Apadana Palace is where the Persian king lived.


A special thanks to Mahmood for telling me about his country; I R A N






The Belgian Chocolate Connoisseur

Belgium , a culinary masterpiece where food is at it's finest in Central Europe. Belgium where the land is fertile and the sea beck...