Sunday, November 28, 2010

When In Rome, Do As The Romans Do.... Eat Bufala Mozzarella

I took a two week trip to Italy with another married lady friend in mid September, where I fell in love with food and eating again. Having struggled with my bouncing-ball-weight for more than 50 years, and having tried every diet available to woman, I suddenly learned to appreciate truly enjoying what I eat once again. Frankly, I'm not sure I ever had before. It was really refreshing for my soul. I could honestly get used to it except that I have no hilly streets or long steps to climb here, which seemed to be the key factor in eating what I wanted in Italy. Nor do I have anyone encouraging me to eat more. 

My friend and I rented a flat in the south of Rome, away from all of the normal madness of the tourist traps, in an attempt to create what we envisioned to be *the true Roman Experience*, which it was. It really was except that I had envisioned the 1950's and 1960's Italy, but today's Italy and the Euro make it a very different world indeed.

At any rate, my most favorite of all things edible in Italy was Bufala Mozzarella, which our lovely 75 year old neighbor (Gino) treated us to, several times, along with his homemade Limoncello. One night he invited us to dinner and after the caprese salad we dined on the most incredible tiny sea bass stuffed with the bufala mozzarella (made from Water Buffaloes). We felt truly honored to eat in the home of a native Roman, even if he was Sicilian by birth. He was quite the character and by far the most interesting person we met while in Rome. He seemed Hell-bent on making sure we had enough to eat, which proved to be the natural order of things since he was such an amazing chef.

So, before we even recovered from the jet lag, upon arriving back home in Texas, I attempted to re-create what we were introduced to. First of all, I present you with Caprese Salad:

Caprese Salad:

2 large fresh tomatoes, sliced to desired thickness (mine were from the farmer's market)

10-20 large fresh leaves of basil (dried will do if you find yourself in a pinch, like me)

bufala (or at least fresh) mozzarella, sliced to desired thickness

Balsamic vinegar, to taste

extra-virgin olive oil, to taste

sea salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Assemble ingredients in layers, except for the last four ingredients.

In a small bowl combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper with a whisk and pour over the top of each plate.

Serve immediately with a good Italian wine, as a first course.

Alright, I might as well admit here that I was so overcome with jet lag, I wasn't able to make it to the market for fresh basil, and I had to use dried. So sue me. It was still quite good.......

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Potato Latkes (Pancakes)... What Could Be Better?

Since I've had this whole ongoing love affair with potatoes roughly since birth, I thought I'd share this lovely recipe for potato latkes (pancakes) with you today. Yes, it's true that I've been missing in action for like 5 months, but I'm back, so get over it. Now, let's get on with the recipe.



4 medium (about 8 oz.)  Idaho potatoes, peeled and grated

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 - 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup grated yellow onion

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives

1/4 cup vegetable oil


1. Mix first 7 ingredients, adding more flour if batter is too thin.

2. Drop large spoonfuls into pre-heated vegetable oil, about 3 per batch. Flatten out with spoon as quickly as possible.

3. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat or until golden brown.

4. Remove from pan and place on paper towels in warm oven.

5. Repeat until batter is gone.

6. Serve with dollop of sour cream on top, sprinkled with chopped fresh chives, or your favorite dipping sauce.