Insalata di Arance [Orange Salad]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Caprese Rice with Cannellini Beans

Active cooking time: 25 minutes
Total cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves baby and 2 adults 

Before Cai was born, we cooked with canned beans and ate them much less often. Now we avoid the sodium and preservatives - I've started cooking with soaked dry beans and am amazed at the freshness, the flavor and the resemblance to the fagioli [bean] dishes we’ve had in Italy. This recipe was also inspired by those carefree travellin’ days, when we swooned over buffalo mozzarella and its classic buddies – fresh basil and tomato. Prepare this dish and then set aside half the rice and beans for baby, while the adults dine 'alla Toscana'.

For the rice:
2 cups of brown rice, cooked [season adult rice with salt and pepper]
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar [optional]
1 large tomato [approx. 200 gm chopped tomato]
140 gm buffalo mozzarella, chopped or shredded*
30 gm chopped basil*
Sea salt

For the beans: 
500 gm cannellini or white beans soaked overnight
Leaves from 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt


For baby: Set aside half the rice and beans, and puree if necessary. This should be served with a cooked vegetable - broccoli complements the dish well, as does tomato and fennel.

For adults:It doesn’t get any simpler then this. Add the mozzarella, tomato and basil to the rice. Dress with olive oil and balsamic if desired [I sometimes find the balsamic overwhelms the other flavors, and prefer to leave it out]. Toss and add sea salt and ground pepper before serving.  
Add thyme leaves to cooked beans [beans will be amazing if still warm from cooking]. Dress with olive oil and sea salt.
The two dishes may be mixed together or served separately as shown in the photo on this page. Bon Apetito! 

*Instead of the mozzarella and basil, try this dish with feta cheese and fresh coriander.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ramekin Dessert

The fantasy dish of working parents is one that requires minimum effort, but invites oohs, aahs and entreaties for the recipe. This dessert won’t disappoint, is as flexible as your changing pantry, and utilizes fruit peel leftover from baby’s meal to boot. Using the peels, fruit and any cookies or cake lying around the house, prepare a Ramekin dessert fit for adults.

Fruit peel
Cookies or ground almond
Liqueur or red wine 
Yogurt or unsalted ricotta
Sugar or confectioner’s sugar

Preparation: Layer the bottom of the ramekin dishes with any cookie, thinly sliced cake, ground almond or combination thereof. Pour a few teaspoons of liqueur such as Amaretto or red wine to soak. Add layers of fruit peel and fruit, and then top with yogurt or ricotta cheese. Sprinkle sugar on top and bake. Or, bake first, sprinkle with sugar and torch for a Brulee finish.

In the photo on this page: Ginger cinnamon cookies soaked in Amaretto, layered with pear peel, strawberry, leftover banana from Cai’s breakfast and ricotta cheese. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Potato Peel is the New Black?

The poor, overlooked potato peel. Don’t ditch it – if your baby isn’t ready for vegetable peel, there’s plenty to do with this nutritious, flavorful appendage. Raw, potato peel can be added to any soup, frittata or savory pancake. Cooked and with a little of the meat still on it, you can really play around – add mayo and dijon for a potato peel salad, serve with sherry vinegar and salt as a tangy side, or layer it into any sandwich. And of course, what better way to use your potato peel than to sauté a batch in oil with salt and paprika for some homemade chips? There’s nothing you can buy in a bag that will ever match the fabulous freshness of these babies - see the photo on this page.