Food! In Europe!

I will make no excuses about the length of time since I last posted, and no promises about future postings. But, I miss this project and would like to get back in the swing of it. In that vein, I thought I’d reminisce about my trip to Europe in 2012 that I took with my parents. One of my absolute favorite things about traveling is eating unique, interesting, fun and local foods. Since this trip was two years ago I don’t remember the details about everything we ate, but I wanted to document it for my own memory. I’d just gotten a new camera before this trip, and hadn’t quite figured it out yet, so the pictures aren’t all great. But, the trip was great, the food was great, and the company was great. 
Our destinations were Italy and Greece, but we had a layover in Dublin, so we went into downtown Dublin with just enough time to grab an Irish breakfast and walk around a bit.
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This is a terrible picture, but I wanted to document that I was able to get a scone with clotted cream and jam in the Dublin airport. One of the best things about the semester I spent in England.DSCN0368 Rome!DSCN0456 DSCN0461 Lots, and lots, and lots of gelato.DSCN0512I had carbonara once or twice, or seven times. When in Rome! 🙂

DSCN0532My mom and I took a cooking class, which was a lot of fun. I’ve included the recipes below. The lesson that stands out to me the most: use OLD potatoes for gnocchi!
DSCN0670Chef Andrea

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Appetizer: Zucchini Parmigiana

Ingredients for 4 people:
– 2 tablspoon of E.V. olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– ¼ teaspoon black pepper
– 6 large zucchini, cut into 1 cm. slices
– tomato sauce (see above the recipe for pasta)
– few leaves of fresh organic mint
– 400 gr. fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
– ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the sauce first and for the ingredients and instructions check the recipe above for the pasta sauce.
In the meantime slice zucchini and grill them, turning once, for about 4 minutes per side until they start to brown. Add fresh organic mint and salt. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a medium baking dish. Spread a layer of zucchini in baking dish, cover with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and top it with parmesan cheese. Repeat zucchini, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan layers. Bake zucchini until hot and bubbly for about 10 minutes. Serve with it covered in Parmesan cheese and decorate with a leaf of fresh organic mint. Can be served hot or cold.

Wine Pairing: Frascati Spumante – it’s a pure Malvasia grapes Spumante handmade produced with the Champenoise Method from the local Winery San Marco from the Lazio region ed. 2009

DSCN0711 Homemade Gnocchi (Gnocchi fatti in casa)

Ingredients for the dough (serving 4 people):
– 1kg / 1/2 lb Potatoes (the one that fits this recipe are old potatoes and not fresh and watery ones, remember that the more water is contained in the potatoes, the more flour you need to add and the heavier the potato dumplings will be!)
– 250gr / 2,5 cups all purpose flour
– 4 pinches of salt (one pinch of salt per person)

To make the gnocchi you have to cook potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender, for about 20-25 minutes. Drain and slip off the skin, then mash until smooth. Gradually stir in the flour (you need to consider ¼ of the quantity of potatoes) to obtain a smooth dough that is just a little sticky. Now you can take a piece of dough and roll it on a lightly floured work surface into a rope about 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) long. Repeat with all the dough and you can give the gnocchi the shape you prefer. Usually to give them the gnocchi their special grooves, twist around the tines of a fork.
When the gnocchi are cooked, drain it and add it to the frying pan with the sauce mixture. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese to coat the dish. Season your dish with salt and garnish with pepper if you like and serve immediately.DSCN0713

Second Course: Straccetti di Manzo con Pachino, Rughetta e Scaglie di Parmigiano (paper thin beef with arugola, cherry tomatoes and shaves of parmesan cheese)

Ingredients (serving 4 people):
– 500 gr / 1/2 Lb paper thin slices of sirloin of beef (at the market in Italy it’s called “straccetti di manzo”)
– 1 clove garlic
– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 bunch fresh organic arugola salad
– 500 gr / 1/2 Lb cherry tomatoes
– salt
– 250 gr / 8.8 Oz freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over high heat, and saute a clove of garlic, smashed without peeling the skin (as it contains all the nutrients and it’s good for the anti-oxidant nutrients). Once the oil is warm, toss in your diced tomatoes. All them to saute for a few minutes until they become slightly softer. Once sauted, add the meat and seasoning with salt, allow the meat to cook. The outside should be nicely browned, but it should still be tender and soft overall.
In the end, add arugola in the same pan to let it season with the rest of the ingredients. In the meantime prepare a dish with a bed of arugola seasoned with salt at the bottom of it, adjust the the meat and tomatos over and add freshly grated Parmesan cheese to coat the dish. Serve hot.

Wine Pairing: Cesanese di Olevano Romano – it’s a pure Cesanese (the typical red grapes from Lazio Region) aged in small barrels from the Winery Azienda Agricola Proietti ed. 2009

DSCN0717 Dessert: Crostata di Ricotta e Cioccolato Fondente con un tocco di marmellata alle mele annurche (Ricotta and dark Chocolate Pie with a touch of homemade apple jam)

Ingredients for a spring pan of about 30cm diameter:
– 500gr/ 5 cups of all purpose flour
– 2 sticks/250gr unsalted butter
– 250gr/ 2,5 cups granulated sugar
– 2 eggs
– 400gr/4 cups fresh Ricotta Cheese (preferably from cow milk, rather than sheep milk as it’s heavier and stronger taste)
– 2tbsp unsalted butter
– 200gr/2 cups natural brown sugar
– Dark chocolate (shaped into shaves, chunks or chips)
– fresh homemade apple jam (to leave at the bottom of the pie)

To make the dough you have to mix the all purpose flour, the softened unsalted butter, sugar and 2 eggs, a pinch of salt. Mix everything powerfully on a slightly floured marble surface and knead everything together, then leave in the fridge for min. 30 minutes to let your butter become more stiff and the dough more suitable to stretch and easy to handle. Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Roll dough on the bottom of a spring pan, place a border around the edges and fill it up with the mixture and place in oven for about 25min.
For the mixture you have to take a bowl where you will adjust the fresh ricotta and half of the natural brown sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the compost will become creamier and smooth, making sure there won’t be chunks of ricotta. It will look very homogeneous, so you can add the chocolate chunks.
After adding the ricotta filling to the base of the spring pan after layering a thick layer of homemade apple jam at the base of the pie, and cover the pie with small and thin rolls of the dough on top of it to make a sort of grid on top of it. Leave it in the oven at 350°F/180°C for about  25 minutes until the ricotta becomes firm. Take it out and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle with icing/confectioner sugar and serve warm or cold!

Wine Pairing: Cannellino – it’s a Passito wine of Frascati grapes from the Winery Cantina San Marco ed. 2009 (this is a sweet wine that suite perfectly with desserts)

DSCN0734 Truffles in the market.DSCN0735 DSCN0738 DSCN0739 DSCN0740 DSCN0818 Truffles in my pasta.DSCN0821More gelato. Always more gelato.


Off to Greece! We went to Santorini, a place that truly feels like paradise. This dinner was our first night there, eating by the sea. It was my first time ordering a whole fish at a restaurant. It was deboned tableside while the Mediterranean breezes swept salty air through our hair. Delightful.DSCN0871

Everything is SO fresh in Santorini.DSCN0877DSCN0938 DSCN0946We went to an incredible upscale restaurant that took us much map searching, mountain climbing and cab hailing to find.DSCN0961DSCN0963 DSCN0964 DSCN0965 DSCN0969Gorgeous view from the patio at the restaurant.DSCN0972 DSCN0973 Gyro by the beach.DSCN0976 DSCN1005Our last night in Santorini we did a tasting menu at a rooftop restaurant in Oia and watched the sunset. It was one of the best meals and best nights of my life. Just before dinner we saw DONKEYS! and then had this fantastic meal at a restaurant we just stumbled upon. The block of feta cheese is one of the best things I’ve eaten. So fresh, so delicious. I loved the food in Greece. It even gave Italian food a run for its money.DSCN1058 DSCN1059

MoussakaDSCN1066 Thanks to these two for a fabulous trip with memories to last a lifetime!DSCN1062

About couchcuisine

I like traveling, cooking and eating...especially with friends.
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One Response to Food! In Europe!

  1. Dar says:

    She’s Baaack!!

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