Sunday, May 19, 2019

A TRIO OF DELECTABLE DESSERTS!

PANNA COTTA
This was the dessert I served at Easter along with 2 little bunny (sugar) cookies. Here's the recipe for the cookies. http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=sugar+cookies I make them for lots of special occasions. They are relatively easy for rolled cookies and dress up well!

Panna Cotta in Italian means "Cooked Cream". The texture was perfectly smooth and creamy, but they didn't set up as well as I would have liked. My main refrigerator in the kitchen was bursting at the seems with food so I placed the Panna Cottas in my small under-counter fridge that is outside to chill. It was an unusually hot day so that fridge wasn't quite cold enough to set them properly, but no one complained and they tasted delicious! I increased the recipe by half-again since I was serving 10.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Tbsps. (which is 1 1/2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp. cold water
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:
In a small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 1 minute to soften. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and remove pan from heat.
In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring so it doesn't scorch. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla. Divide cream mixture among 10 (1/2 cup) ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill ramekins, covered at least 4 hours or overnight. Next time I will make the night before serving!

To serve: Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water for 3 seconds. Run a knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto the center of a small plate. I served them in small, crystal bowls with about 4 Tbsp. of Raspberry Coulis on the bottom of the bowl and also topped the Panna Cottas with additional sauce and a few fresh raspberries. A coulis is simply a strained puree of fruit or veg. Panna Cotta is very mild since it is mainly just cream so this vibrant sauce was the perfect spark for this dessert.

I found this recipe online (https://thecafesucrefarine.com/easy-raspberry-coulis/) and thought it interesting that frozen raspberries are recommended over fresh. According to this Blogger they render a more intense raspberry flavor and ensure a deep, rich red color.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. water
12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
I nabbed this photo from their website as I
didn't have time to take one of my own while serving.

Preparation:
Combine sugar and water in a 1 cup microwave-save cup or bowl. Stir to combine. Mixture will be very thick. Cook in the microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Stir for 5-10 seconds to dissolve sugar crystals.
Combine frozen raspberries and hot syrup in a blender. Blend until mixture is smooth and pureed. Pour the puree through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium-sized bowl. Pouring does not really occur as the mixture is quite thick. You will need to stir and push the solids with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula until all of the liquid has been pushed through. This will take several minutes and was, by far, the most difficult part of putting this Coulis together, but worth every minute! Discard the seeds. Store in the refrigerator up to a week or in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Next up...
DARK CHOCOLATE AVOCADO MOUSSE
 
This is the most unlikely combination of ingredients, but I happened to have 2 very ripe avocados that I needed to use so went to the web to look for something different. You would never know there are avocados in this decadent chocolate dessert and I recommend taking the word "avocado" out of the title and presenting as a DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE! Very 'moussey', sublime texture and intense chocolate flavor with NO hint of avocado!

Ingredients:
2 large very ripe avocados
4 oz. 70% cacao baking chocolate melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup Almond milk (I used Coconut Almond milk)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Sea Salt

Preparation:
In a food processor, combine avocados melted chocolate, cocoa powder, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of Sea Salt. Puree until creamy. Spoon the mousse into 4 small ramekins and chill for at least 1 hour.
 

I think this would be really yummy served with a coffee whipped cream with slivers of chocolate or toasted nuts for texture contrast.

We'll finish today with a...
MANGO SORBET
Ingredients:
4 1/2 to  cups very ripe mangos (about 2 lbs.) peeled and diced
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar*
1 tsp. fresh lime juice (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (more or less to taste)
* The mangos I used were very sweet so I used less sugar.
Preparation:
Pack diced mangoes in a blender with water and blend on high speed until very smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup, pushing puree through strainer with a spoon until you have 3 cups of puree. Reserve the remainder for another use. (Great in a smoothy!)
Transfer strained puree into a large bowl and whisk in sugar until well dissolved. Whisk in lime juice and salt adjusting flavors. Chill the puree in the fridge until very cold; 2-3 hours or overnight. Churn in ice cream maker according to your machine. Mine takes about 20-25 minutes for both ice cream or sorbet.
Transfer to an airtight container and chill in freezer at least 4 hours before serving.
 
WE'RE HEADING BACK TO IRELAND IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS, BUT BEFORE I GO WANT TO SHARE ONE MORE RECIPE FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER...MOLE!
 
STAY TUNED...
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE!"

Or in my case...
LIMONCELLO

Limoncello puts a smile on your face!
This was much easier to make than I expected and only took 4 days to cure! The flavor is bright and refreshing. I cut down on the recommended sugar so not too sweet. It was a perfect ending to our Easter feast. And thanks to my friend Leslie Jackson these lemons were freshly picked!

Ingredients:
10 lemons
1 (750 ml.) bottle vodka
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Preparation:
Using a sharp pairing knife remove the skin from the lemons in long strips. Reserve the lemons for another use. I juiced them to make the Lemon Sorbet. Trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith.
This can be done by scraping the inside of the lemon peel with the pairing knife. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for at least 4 days at room temperature.
Make the simple syrup:
Stir 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water together in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the simple syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to a month.

I let my lemons steep in the vodka for 5 days. After doing a little research I learned that 4 days is the magic number and although you can let it steep longer there is no significant benefit; meaning it has become as lemony as it will be after only 4 days.

The palate cleansing course I served for this year's Easter dinner was a...

LEMON SORBET

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation:
In a large saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil stirring until sugar melts; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the lemon zest and 1 1/2 cups lemon juice to the sugar water mixture. Cool completely in fridge for an hour or overnight. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to your manufacturers instructions. The mixture will be quite thin, but comes together nicely in the freezer.  Place in the freezer and chill for at least 4 hours.

If you don't have an ice cream maker you can freeze this in a shallow pan in the freezer stirring every 20 minutes with a fork until crystals have formed; about 3 hours. It then becomes a granita rather than a (churned) sorbet, but just as delicious!

If you were making this as a dessert you'd want to add a bit more sugar. As a palate cleanser it was perfect!

Next time I will share the Easter dessert course
...a Classic Italian Panna Cotta.
 
Until then, keep enjoying life in the kitchen!
 
And here are a few more shots from our celebration!
Deb giving the Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Asparagus a mighty stir.
Dorita and Karen relaxing before dinner is served.
The main event: Lamb stuffed with spinach,
feta, pine nuts, bread crumbs, and herbs.
 
Glasses awaiting vino.
Our angel vessel...a loving anniversary gift from my dear husband.
 
 




Friday, May 3, 2019

CATHERINE DE MEDICI'S TUSCAN CHICKEN LIVER PATE!

In Italian, fegatini means livers. This humble dish using left-over and inexpensive ingredients is found throughout Italy.
CROSTINI DI FEGATINI or CROSTINI TOSCANI

This is an ancient recipe from Pellegrino Artusi's 120 year old cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Some believe the original recipe is from Florentine noblewoman, Catherine de Medici. When she married Henry II in 1533 she brought this family recipe with her to France where the French reinterpreted it to become what is now their recipe for foie gras. Artusi's recipe calls for chicken livers and because in Italy livers are often sold with hearts you can also add the hearts to the pate. I found this recipe online (www.emikodavies.com/blog/artusi-may-tuscan-chicken-liver-pate/ where measurements were added as Artusi simply lists ingredients, not amounts. I increased the recipe by half and added a few of my own ingredients (capers, anchovies, brandy) and this is what I came up with.
Before serving I topped the pate with finely chopped chives.
This is not a smooth pate, but I did use the hand emulsion blender to combine ingredients. The recipe calls for chopping all ingredients, once cooked, with a mezzaluna or large kitchen knife, which would leave the pate even more chunky. You could also place all cooked ingredients in a food processor and then push through a fine mesh sieve to get a really smooth consistency. I liked it a little rough since pate is the quintessential rustic dish of Italy! The original recipe does not use anchovies, capers or brandy, but as I did more research realized that every family throughout Italy has their own recipe for pate with slightly different ingredients.
Here are most of the ingredients for the pate.
Ingredients:
1 1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 slices of pancetta, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter (or olive oil)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken livers, cleaned
1 cup chicken stock
About 8 pieces of dried porcini mushroom, soaked in warm water to soften and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp. brandy, bourbon, or cognac (I used brandy.)
4 drained anchovies
1 Tbsp. capers
Salt/Pepper to taste

Loaf of bread, such as a baguette for the crostini (day old is what they would use in Italy)

Preparation:
Finely chop the shallot, celery, carrot and parsley and saute these gently in pan with the pancetta in the butter.

Season with a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are soft, add the whole chicken livers and continue cooking, stirring occasionally to brown them, about 3-5 minutes. Add the brandy, if using, and watch as the brandy may flame up.

Livers all cleaned and porcini mushrooms soaking.

Once browned remove the mixture from the pan and place on a chopping board together with the softened porcini mushrooms, anchovies and capers, if using, and finely chop everything with the mezzaluna or, as I did, blend right in the pan with a hand blender.
Return the chopped pate mixture to the pan, add the stock, breadcrumbs, lemon juice and season to taste. Continue cooking on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes more. This mixture should be quite tender and juicy so do not allow it to reduce too much so that it becomes dry. Add more stock if needed. The pate will firm up as it cools.

In the meantime slice the baguette in 1/2 inch pieces and gently warm in a low oven until dry to the touch. You can make the pate a day ahead of time. It keeps well in the fridge for 5-7 days.
I served the pate with additional capers, a nice French Dijon mustard and a delicious onion and apricot jam.

ONION AND APRICOT JAM
Ingredients:
1 cup shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. vegetable or other mild oil
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. Apple Cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. chicken stock
1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced
1/4 cup water, more or less

Preparation:
Saute shallot and leek in oil over medium high heat until tender and slightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a low simmer. Add white wine, lemon juice, honey, sugar, vinegar, chicken stock and apricots. Cook gently for another 10 minutes until all ingredients are well combined. Add water by the tablespoon to loosen jam to desired consistency.
PATE IS A PERFECT STARTER FOR ANY OCCASION
AND IT WAS A BIG HIT AT THIS YEAR'S
EASTER CELEBRATION!

UP NEXT:
LIMONCELLO and LEMON SORBET
 

Friday, April 26, 2019

EASTER HIGHLIGHTS!

My favorite two dishes this Easter were the Catherine de Medici Tuscan Pate and the Seafood Terrine. Today we're going to discuss the Seafood Terrine.
I found this recipe online from Michael Ruhlman. If you haven't made a lot of Seafood Terrine (which I have not!)  I urge you to watch his video. http://ruhlman.com/2013/08/le-creuset-terrines-seafood-terrine/ You can also get his original recipe at this site.Tips on technique helped me. I increased the size of the recipe by one half as it said it served 8 and I was serving 10. I think we would have been fine with his original recipe as this terrine is fairly rich. This served 10 with some lovely left-overs. He also does not include the size terrine mold for this recipe. I used a Le Creuset 32, 2-quart loaf pan with cover, which worked beautifully.

SEAFOOD TERRINE
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 tsp. saffron
24 oz. peeled and deveined shrimp
3 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 leeks, white part only, thoroughly cleaned, diced small and sauted in butter till tender, then chilled
8 oz. scallops (I doubled amount of scallop as they are one of my favorites!)
6 oz. lump crab meat
1/3 cup minced chives

Preparation:
Bring the cream to a simmer over high heat, then remove from the heat and add the saffron. Let the saffron infuse the cream for about 15-20 minutes. Strain into a clean container and thoroughly chill.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Be sure all ingredients to be pureed are very cold. Puree the shrimp with the egg whites and salt in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add half of the cream. The mixture should be stiff enough to shape. Continue adding the rest of the cream with the machine running.

In a mixing bowl combine the shrimp mousseline with the leeks (I actually forgot to add the leeks.), scallops, crab, and chives, gently folding the garnish to distribute it evenly.
Seafood Terrine ready to bake.
Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap (It helps to wet the mold so that the wrap sticks.) Fill the terrine mold with the seafood. Fold the plastic wrap over it and cover with the lid (or foil if your terrine has no lid).

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Set the terrine in a roasting pan and pour the simmering water into the roasting pan so that it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the terrine mold. Put the roasting pan in the oven and cook until the terrine reaches an interior temperature of 135 degrees; about 50 minutes.
 
Here's Karen Sykes looking on as I learn a
new technique from Myrna for cutting even slices.
And here's Myrna! Her Mom taught her to cut
first in half and then continue to cut each half
as many times as necessary to get the size slice
you want with all slices same size. Simple, but clever!

I served the Seafood Terrine on a bed of mixed greens with a...

TARRAGON MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar*
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. freshly minced tarragon, plus more tarragon for garnish when serving

Whisk all ingredients until completely blended.
This bottle of tarragon vinegar is about a year old.
The longer it sets the more it becomes
infused with tarragon flavor.
*I usually have a bottle of tarragon vinegar in my pantry. If you grow tarragon, simply snip several lengths of tarragon and cover with white vinegar. It keeps forever. You can also buy tarragon vinegar at some specialty stores.

I'm going to end today with a few shots from
our fabulous and festive Easter feast.
Next time we'll tackle Catherine de Medici's pate!
From l to r: Myrna and Dick York, Jer, Rudy Pina, and Debby Vis
 
Dorita Pina, me (looking goofy!), Bill Sykes (looking regal!), and Steve Vis

The 2019 Easter ladies: Dorita, me, Karen, Myrna and Deb
THANKS FOR JOINING ME TODAY!
TUNE IN AGAIN SOON FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF...
 




Thursday, April 18, 2019

BUONA PASQUA ITALIANO!

Easter Sunday dinner 2019
The theme, once again, is Italian.
Our gardens are in full bloom!
Easter is my favorite holiday. It represents new beginnings, hope, and limitless possibilities for love, joy and happiness. Being brought up in a non-religious household I did not learn the true meaning of Easter until much later.

In our house Easter was a time of feasting! This Easter is extremely special for me because I am ONE year cancer free! I am grateful for a complete and successful recovery and forever thankful to my husband, Jerry and my friends and family who supported me throughout my recovery.

However, this year also marks a very sad note as it is the first Easter celebration without our dear friend Dennis who passed away in October 2018. We have shared Easter dinners with Dennis and Diana for nearly 15 years. Cheers to you Dennis! Thankful for so many fabulous times together.

Jerry and Dennis Easter 2006
La Dolce Vita!
AND HERE'S OUR MENU...
 
APERITIVO
EASTER DEVILED EGG CHICKS
PARMESAN FRICO
CATHERINE DE MEDICI TUSCAN PATE

ANTIPASTO
SEAFOOD TERRINE ON MIXED GREENS WITH TARRAGON DIJON DRESSING

INTERMEZZO
ZESTY LEMON SORBET

PRIMO
CREAMY ORZO WITH ASPARAGUS TIPS

IL SECONDO E CONTORNO
STUFFED LEG OF LAMB SERVED WITH MINT JULIP GASTRIQUE
ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH FRENCH FETA CHEESE AND CANDIED PECANS
FOCACCIO BREAD
 
DOLCE E DIGESTIVO CON CAFFE
PANNA COTTA WITH RASPBERRY COULIS
BUNNY SUGAR COOKIES
COFFEE/ESPRESSO
HOUSE-MADE LIMONCELLO


WISHING YOU ALL MUCH
HAPPINESS
ON THIS BEAUTIFUL HOLIDAY!
 
ENJOY COOKING YOUR OWN FEAST!
 
TUNE IN AGAIN SOON...
 

Friday, April 12, 2019

MANGIA ITALIANO!

I am in love with all things Italian and food is high up on the list. Here are a couple easy Italian goodies I made recently, which I hope you enjoy.

TRADITIONAL ROSEMARY AND GARLIC FOCACCIA


Previously I posted a recipe for Focaccia Bread (http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=focaccio), but I think this one is even better because it uses more olive oil and lots of fresh herbs. If you don't have fresh you can always substitute dried herbs. This ancient Italian bread dates back to the Estruscan period, although some believe it may have been invented by the Greeks. However, the Estruscans, Romans, and Greeks were so intertwined back in the 8th - 6th century BC it's hard to tell where recipes originated. It's also thought to be the precursor to modern-day Italian pizza as it is a flatbread with lots of leeway for toppings. As with so many recipes I find online I have doctored this one a bit with more herbs and more garlic.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil*
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 3 tsp. dried
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 3 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tsp. honey or a tsp. of sugar
2 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

*This time the extra-virgin is important as olive oil is a dominant flavor in this bread. You don't have to buy a super expensive oil, just one you really like the taste of.

Preparation:

MAKE THE DOUGH:
In a cold medium skillet, combine olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, rosemary and the black pepper. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-10 minutes or until aromatic, but before browning garlic. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Stir a few times then let sit for 5 minutes. If the yeast mixture does not begin to grow (foam up), then either your water was too cool, too hot, or your yeast is dead and you will need to start over. The water should be quite warm to the touch, but not scalding. 105 to 110 degrees is ideal.

Add 1 cup of flour and a 1/4 cup of the infused garlic/herb/olive oil mixture to the bowl with the yeast and honey. Stir 3 to 4 times until the flour has moistened. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. I like to use the dough hooks on my hand mixture as it shortens the kneading time necessary because the hooks act somewhat like the kneading process getting air pockets out and stimulating gluten process resulting in a light, fluffy dough. Because focaccia is a flatbread the crust becomes crisp and interior is moist and soft.
When the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and knead 10-15 minutes until very smooth in texture. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. You want to keep the dough out of drafts so consider rising in your oven (with no heat on).
This is the dough after rising for an hour.
After it has risen to about double in size, punch it down, knead for a couple minutes and transfer to a lightly greased 9x12 baking sheet or pan. Using your fingers spread the dough evenly pushing out to reach the edges of the pan, dimple the dough, pressing down into the pan with your fingertips.

Drizzle the top with remaining garlic/herb/olive mixture.

Let the dough rise until it puffs slightly; about 15-20 minutes. Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and if you like sprinkle with course sea salt and a little freshly chopped rosemary. Cool baked focaccia on wire rack. Cut into 2 inch squares. This bread freezes well for up to a month.

Here's a twist on another Italian favorite...

ITALIAN MEATBALLS WITH HERBS AND RICOTTA

I also found this recipe online. It's from the Food Network with just a couple tweaks from me. Hard to improve on a Food Network recipe!

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground turkey
4 oz. (1/2 cup)whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley (I used curly as that's what I have growing.)
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 medium onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
4 Tbsp. finely grated pecorino (I used parmesan.)
1 slice bacon, finely minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. minced fresh basil (My addition.)
1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning (My addition.)
1 large egg
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Freshy ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cups homemade or jarred quality marinara sauce
Fresh basil for garnishing

Preparation:
Mix ground meats and diced bacon, ricotta, parsley, panko crumbs, onion, pecorino, bacon, garlic milk, thyme, egg, salt, Worcestershire and black pepper. Here is my trick. Meatballs become tough if they are overmixed so thoroughly mix all ingredients listed above, except the ground meats. Then add the ground meats and using your hands gently mix until just combined. The mixture is pretty soft.
Using your hands, gently form mixture into 1 Tbsp. small meatballs (make smaller balls if serving as an hors d'oeuvres or larger balls for a dinner entre). Put the raw meatballs on a large plate or tray.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight. Bring the meatballs back to room temperature before cooking. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1/3 of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally until well browned on all sides; about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

After removing the last meatball, drain the oil out of the skillet and wipe clean with a paper towel. Return the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the marinara sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low simmer, cover and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your meatballs. Serve with toothpicks if using as an appetizer with a dollop of sauce over each meatball and freshly chopped basil. Serve either room temperature or warm.

I'm going to close today with the simplest Italian hors d'oeuvres you will ever make. Why I have not made these sooner I do not know, but recently had them at our annual tennis party made by my good friend and tennis buddy Claren Scott. They are fantastic.
Here's Claren off the tennis court!
She looks like a movie star!
PARMESAN CRISPS, aka FRICOS!
Frico in Italian literally means "cooked Montasio cheese', but frico is also a typical dish made in the North Eastern region of Italy--Friuli. It is made either as a 'Soft Frico', which generally includes roasted potatoes and onions cut into wedges to serve, or as a 'Thin Frico', which are little fried or baked crisps used as an appetizer. No recipe necessary for the crisps. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grate about 2 cups parmesan cheese or other well-aged Italian cheese. Originally the fricos, either Soft or Thin were made with Montasio cheese. Place mounded tablespoons of grated cheese on a sheet pan lined with a silpat silicone baking sheet, parchment paper or use a non-stick pan. This is very necessary as crisps will stick to the pan otherwise.
Spread the cheese out leaving about 1 inch in between. Bake in preheated oven until just golden; about 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool for about 1 minute before removing to wire rack to cool completely. These store well in a tightly sealed glass container for 4-5 days.
I made my fricos totally plain since I've never made them before, but next time might try adding:

Lemon zest and fresh basil
Minced garlic
Finely chopped rosemary
Hot sauce or lots of black pepper
Claren added a small piece of salami in the center of each frico. Delicious!

That's it for today.
I'm getting very excited about the Easter holiday,
which is only a week away. I've been working on
my menu, which also has an Italian theme.
I will share it with you next week.

UNTIL THEN...BUON APPETITO!