Archives for category: Italian


Squid, tomatoes, capers, pine nuts, lemon zest…. And raisins? A list on seemingly random ingredients at first, but brought together, they make one fresh and vibrant summer pasta salad. I made this dish for a quick and easy weekday dinner.

First, clean the squid tubes and tentacles. Read the rest of this entry »


Smoked roasted almonds are one of the most versatile ingredients that I use. They are great on salads or alone by themselves, however, with very little work, they can actually be used as a healthy spice and flavor enhancer that can bring complexity to simple dishes. Read the rest of this entry »


After the successful first Blues On The Green picnic at Zilker Park where I made the grilled shrimp and arugula pitas , we decided to do another picnic.

This time Ben Kweller was playing, and the weather was much hotter. Read the rest of this entry »


While I love to BBQ outside, there are days that are just way too hot to cook outdoors in Texas. Sometimes I just don’t feel like starting a fire after a day of work and dealing with cleaning the grill. There are also times when I’m making BBQ for a dinner party but I’ve got my attention on 5 other dishes and no time to mind a live fire. Rain, while is rare in Texas, does happen when you least expect it, and could potentially ruin your BBQ plans. Read the rest of this entry »

I was on a roll with cooking food en Papillote, or “in parchment” style, that I did two dishes in one evening for dinner. Previously I had made a Tomato Basil Sauce with Polenta, and while I was researching that recipe, I also found a recipe for Halibut cooked en Papillote with summer vegetables and tomatoes. Read the rest of this entry »

The term en Papillote literally means “In Parchment” in French. Food is wrapped tightly in a parcel made out of parchment paper and baked in the oven, the steam from the package will cook the food. This is a very fool proof way of preparing fish without worrying about over cooking it. You can substitute brown paper or aluminum foil for parchment paper, but brown paper is not water proof and aluminium foil may add a metallic taste to the food. There is a lot of similarity between this cooking style and the Spanish and Asian version, where the parchment paper is replaced with banana leaves or bamboo leaves, and the leaves themselves act as a flavoring agent. Read the rest of this entry »


To go with my vegetarian pasta, I made mussels cooked and steamed in a Pernod and fennel based broth. Pernod is an anise base Liquor, and after the production of absinthe was banned, the parent company of Pernod Ricard started making Pernod instead. Fennel is actually one of other herbs used to flavor Absinthe, along with anise, and its scent and flavor is very similar to that of anise. Read the rest of this entry »


As an omnivore, I often have issues eating purely vegetarian dishes. Having been raised in a country at a time when meat was a commodity, most of my diet as a child have been vegetable based, seasoned with either lard, bacon, or bones. In my nearly 20 years in America, I’ve had no shortage of meat, yet I’ve only begun to appreciate meals that are completely vegetarian. Read the rest of this entry »


When I don’t have time to cook a decent dinner, and don’t feel like going out for dinner, I usually do a soup and sandwich dinner with store bought ingredients to save time. I started with a recipe for pasta e fagioli with fresh fava beans. If not in season or not available, you can substitute frozen fava beans, or peas. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s getting close to the summer, but the temperature has already been hitting the high 80s and 90s in Austin. Summer also means many fruits and vegetables coming in to season. Peaches usually come into season between May and July, depending on the variety. Because of the unusually warm winter for us this year, our Central Market was already carrying locally grown peaches.

For our Tuesday dinner, I wanted to make something special since Mark was having a big meeting at work. I started with a very simple peach, Burrata and Proscuitto salad with arugula. The recipe I found actually called for apricots, but those were not yet in season enough to be carried at Central Market, so I used peaches instead. I also substituted Proscuitto for the country ham since I love Proscuitto.

Instead of grilling the peaches, I brushed them with mesquite smoked olive oil, and charred them in a stove top pan on high heat.


Burrata is a fresh Italian mozzarella cheese made from cream and mozzarella. The cheese has a harder exterior like mozzarella, but when you break into the center is soft and creamy.


To assemble the salad, a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil is whisked together in a large bowl, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The arugula and any other greens are tossed in the oil and lemon juice dressing.


The greens are transferred to a serving bowl, with torn pieces of Burrata, Proscuitto, and charred pieces of peaches are tossed in. The salad is drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and it’s ready to be served.


Grilled apricot, Burrata, and country ham with arugula :