I’d love opera, if only I could understand it

How did you spend your Friday night? I’ll tell you how I spent mine. At an opera. WHACHA. Bet you didn’t see that one coming! Except for the fact that there’s a picture of my opera program right up there. Yeah… But anyway, I went to go see La Traviata and it actually was better than I thought it was going to be. Granted, I went into it with the lowest expectations on the planet and I expected to be bored the entire time. But it wasn’t too long (2 1/2 hours), the singers had amazing voices, and there were English subtitles :) Oh I’m sorry, my 11 year old sister just corrected me. They’re called “supertitles”. Supra above, sub under. Silly me! *eyeroll* But the best part was that while they were running through the aisles during the performance (I’m still not sure why…) one of the…larger singers… got stuck in between my sister’s chair and the wall which made her laugh hysterically. Of course I got stuck next to the lady with the mask over her face, so the whole time I was thinking “Oh great, what deadly toxin is she emitting that I’m breathing in right now?”.  Oh yeah, and then I’m pretty sure the old lady behind me almost died. She was dizzy and loudly announcing “I’M FINE, I’M FINE!” to everyone around her. If she had died on me, that soooo would have ruined my night. 

I got back in the groove of Italian food tonight. I made tomato bruschetta which, of course, decided to not turn out on me. The bread decided to burn even though I had it in the oven for less than a minute. And the tomatoes tasted weird. But other than that-lovely! ;) If you ever make this, I’d recommend slicing the tomatoes in half, scooping out the seeds and then putting salt on it. It helps dry out the tomatoes so it doesn’t turn your bread to mush.

Get ready for some super awesome foods coming up this week. There will be pesto, cod, and of course, flourless cakes!

Random Italian (or not) Foods, the movie. Coming to a computer screen near you.

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Blood mother! BLOOD!

Wednesdays burn me out. First I have classes in the morning with a bunch of other home schooler nerds like me ;) Luckily, I love the one class I’m in. The 2 hours of study hall? Eh, not so much. So I’m burned out from…not talking to anyone…ok well maybe 2 or 3 people talk to me. Highschool’s fun. Not. So then I come home, do school, make dinner, eat it speedily fast and go to dog training class. 1 hour full of liver treats, spastic dogs, still no one talking to me, and dog bites. My dumb dog bit my hand today while I was trying to get something out of her mouth. So I bled to death while I tried to teach her “stay.” And it SO wasn’t worth it. But luckily I’m home now, no longer dying, and eating ice cream. I’m better…

I love making food. It’s very therapeutic. Food can’t annoy you (most of the time) or ignore you like people can. And the icing on the cake was that today’s food was absolutely wonderful. So that make me very very very happy.

QUICHE LORRAINE

As I was reading through the ingredients today, I kind of had a panic moment. “flour, puff pastry, bacon, eggs, cream….cream…wait, I feel like I don’t have it anymore….wait, wait, wait…NOOOO!!!!!!” I used it on the ice cream. One word:duh. I guess I figured that a 1/2 pint would suffice for the ice cream and quiche. I was wrong.  So I used skim milk (I probably should have used whole…) and it was…umm…quite fluffy. It was good, but not filling. The recipe called for me to cook the puff pastry filled with baking beans and then bake it blind. That pretty much means putting weights on the pastry and sticking it in the oven. I didn’t have baking bean weights, so I improved and used chickpeas-the wimpiest bean on the world. They looked very depressing.Don’t laugh. Yes, they’re ugly, I know. Let’s move on.

FUNGHI RIPIENI

Also on the menu were stuffed mushrooms. What?!?! Me? Eating mushrooms?! Yes, I did. And they’re no longer on my hate list. Not that I have a hate list….but if I did, mushrooms would have been on the top. But these were actually really good. They didn’t take too long and the milk-soaked bread/cheese/mushroom stem filling wasn’t too bad. Not totally unappetizing like I just made it sound…

And yes, the *ehem* lovely post title is from Psycho. I adore that movie and I just HAD to quote it. Yeah….ok, I’m done now.

Who makes ice cream when it’s 24 degrees? Only me.

I’m happy :)

Not totally uncommon for me, but I’m a pretty melancholic person (Melon? Now I want watermelon. Everything somehow finds its way back to food… ). I can usually fake being super happy, but not today, nooooo siree. I didn’t need to. Not only did the food tonight turn out ok, but I felt like I learned a thing or two in school, we’re leaving for a semi-vacation soon, I’m repainting my room, my long-lost (ok not really) friend called, I’m over my cold and I’m going to take a learn to chop-choppy a knife class (ok that’s not what it’s called. But you get what I mean. I’m gonna learn how to wield a knife. Properly.). Not a lot, but it’s enough to make me happy for at least today! :)

GELATO DI FRAGOLE

On to food. I finally planned ahead! *takes bow* Thank you, thank you. We all knew it was bound to happen one of these days. I stuck the ice cream insert bowl..type..thing..in the freezer yesterday and I was prepared to make ice cream this afternoon. And lemme tell ya, it was yummy. I didn’t follow the ice cream recipe in The Silver Spoon because it called for 6 egg yolks and refrigerating for a bunch of hours or something. I kinda skimmed through it. Not very thoroughly, obviously. So I used this recipe:

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

from the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker Recipe Booklet
Makes ~ 14 ½ cup servings

Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2¾ cups heavy cream
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and ½ cup of sugar. Stir gently and allow strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. Strain the berries, reserving the juices. Mash or puree half the berries.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, reserved strawberry juice, mashed strawberries, and vanilla.
  3. Turn the [ice cream] machine on; pour the mixture into the freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 – 25 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved sliced strawberries and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to sn airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours.
  4. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Note: This ice cream will have a “natural” appearance of very pale pink. If a deeper pink is desired, add red food coloring sparingly by drops until desired color is achieved.

Thanks to http://www.thedeliciouslife.com for letting me use their recipe which I could have just copied from my Cuisinart manual, but I’m too lazy.

The ice cream was absolutely lovely. Not sure if that’s what I should have eaten when it’s so cold, but who cares. It gave me, hands down, the biggest brain freeze I’ve ever had in my entire life. And I think I could have done with out that last 1/2 tsp of vanilla. And I skimped on the fresh strawberries. This was about as fresh as they were gonna get.

I would like the thank Mr. Red Dye for guest staring in tonight’s ice cream. You can’t have strawberry ice cream that’s white, so he had to step in a bit….

When The Silver Spoon say ham, I’m assuming they mean prosciutto. Do Italians eat honey-baked ham…? Not sure. So I used prosciutto anyway. The crepes were good. Kinda salty from the prosciutto, but over-all pretty good. Wow, I’ve just used the words good and prosciutto more times in one paragraph than in my entire life. Yikes.

CRÊPES AL PROSCIUTTO E FONTINA

And that’s all the food. I feasted on Diet Dr Pepper and Fruit by the Foot all day today (I bounce back from being sick quickly), so I wasn’t really in the mood for a bunch of food. But today went well. Yay :)

I got nerve

When I woke up this morning, I could tell there was happiness in the air. There were flowers falling from my ceiling, angelic music playing, and a half dozen leprechauns doing a jig around my bed while holding little puppies. I called out to one leprechaun, “What is the cause for all this joy and frivolity, my dear short Irishman?” His eyes lit up and he said, “Why Piccola! Don’t you know? Your sciatic nerve is pinched!” Oh what fun!!! Happy happy, joy joy!

Sciatic nerve (or as I called it “psychotic nerve” until someone finally corrected me…last year…) pain is the worst. Ever. Why I had to wake up with it today when I was going to make a gajillion things for dinner and I was going to stand for hours, I don’t know. I bet this is its way of saying “Hey fatty, ease up on the pizza. Your legs can only hold so much weight.”  And the worst part is that I know for a fact I haven’t gotten any exercise or done anything to bug it at all this week. You can just call me piccolalazybum.

This morning it was only my sciatic nerve that was killing me, but I think it decided to throw a party and get the surrounding nerves involved too. So by noon, pretty much my entire leg was asleep. Pleasant, I know. But it’s true.

BIGNÉ AL SALMONE

I was looking up how to make my nerve pain go away and I found the most depressing website ever. It said “Prolonged sitting or standing, sneezing, coughing or lifting aggravates sciatica.” Oh great. Why don’t they just throw in that breathing, blinking and raising your eyebrows aggravates it too?  Luckily, 2 Tylenols, 2 Aleves, various ice packs, plenty of complaining, and one day sprawled out on the couch later, I’m better :)

TARTINE ALLA PIZZAIOLA

Oh wait I just sneezed. Ow. They weren’t lying, it does aggravate it. Great…

RISO AL CURRY CON GAMBERI

First off, I apologize for the not so good pictures. I was totally wiped out and really not in the mood to be a perfectionist. Not that I ever am….

No, that’s not a giant rice krispie treat in the background, but how awesome would that be?! That is a pretty molded chunk of rice. Surrounded by little shrimpies with..err..brown curry on top. It tasted better than it looks, believe me. This was one of the better meals this week, but it took me FOREVER to make. From start to finish it was more than 3 hours. For a normal person, this might have taken 1 hour tops, but I was multi-tasking and making fancy schmancy hor’dourves, like the Salmon Puffs and Pizzaiola Tartines you see above.

BISCOTTI ALLA CANNELLA

These were an I-just-ate-a-super-yummy-dinner-and-now-I-want-dessert after thought. I whipped these up after I ate and they were on the table just as everyone was finishing eating. WHACHA! Speedy fast. These were good. Not very sweet, but I liked them. I think I’m realizing that Italian cookies are pretty boring…

Today I knocked off 6 recipes (including the curry and the puffs). Impressive, no? And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go implode. And hopefully not sneeze again.

Do you believe in life after flat soufflé?

I can feel something inside me say I really don’t want soufflé again , no.

Today started off bad and I could tell it was going to get worse. Yesterday we didn’t end up eating until almost 7pm because I started it too late (and I tend to dawdle a bit.oops.). So today I planned to start at 4 so everything would for sure be done by no later than 6. Apparently things don’t like to go my way. *TMI ALERT* At 3:58 my finger decided to develop stigmata for no apparent reason. I couldn’t find a single band aid so I was running around like a maniac trying to prep things with one hand bleeding and the other trying to stop it with a paper towel. Ok that really was too much info. Mea culpa. Anyway 4:20 comes and I’m still not cooking. FINALLY I’m half an hour behind schedule, but I’m better, and I start the soufflé….

SOUFFLÉ DI PROSCIUTTO

Ok, I don’t even wanna talk about my soufflé. I was upset. No, distraught. The dumb thing didn’t even kinda rise the few inches out of the pan dish like it was supposed to. Actually it didn’t rise at all. But I kinda guessed that while I was making it. I could tell it didn’t like me from the start and I guess this was its way of getting back at me. I guess you could call it….Revenge of the Soufflé! Ahhh, I’m sorry. I tried not to reference Star Wars two days in a row, but I couldn’t help it. I’m a dork like that :) I’m not sure what went wrong with it, but I don’t think the recipe called for enough liquid or too much flour or something because it was a dough when I put it in the oven…and it stayed that way. Flat and lifeless-like. But it tasted ok, if you like semi-cooked dough with bits of ham and cheese in it surrounded by burnt breadcrumbs.

CANAPÉ DI AVOCADO E POMODORI

But on a happier note, the avocado and tomato canapés turned out ok! Well, that might be kinda biased since I have a slight obsession with avocados. Actually the avocado I used wasn’t even ripe… I’d definitely make these again. The parsley/Worcestershire/mayonnaise sauce, as gross as it sounds, was amazing. I toasted the bread to give it a little more pizazz.  These were yyuuummmmyyy :)

So let’s sum today up, shall we? Spontaneous invisible papercut+ food not going the way I want it to=sad piccolaitaliana. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow will be better…I still have to decide what I’m going to make…but I’m tearing the soufflé chapter out of the book! GRRRRR!!!!!!!

Ok I’m not really. But it’s pretty tempting right now…