Tuesday 29 May 2007

I made a wicked burger

So, for most of you this is probably going to come as absolutely useless information ( I imagine you all know how to whip up a real homemade burger), but only yesterday, after having read an article on the New York Times, did I try my hand at making one, and have decided that never again shall I buy the readymade ones in the meat sector of a supermarket again!
Being half Italian, having lived in Italy all of my life but most of all with a father who was also a great cook and originally from the Abruzzo region, I'm not too bad when it comes to making meatballs, or as we call them here, polpette.
But burgers...that's an entirely different cup of tea. When I think burger I thinks Big Mac; aka a lot of sauce, lettuce bread and a sliver of tastless meat (don't get me wrong, I'll kill for a Big Mac any day!!!!).
But having read said article, I really wanted to see how a real all american burger would suit my taste buds. And let me tell you, suit me it did!
The great thing is there really is so little to it. Whereas when making polpette you need to add eggs, stale bread soaked in milk, maybe even one mashed potato to the meat and then, with infinite patience roll the above into little balls, which have to then be rolled in flour, gently sauteed and afer all this start working on a sauce, tomato, wine, lemon etc, good old burgers need so little preparation and time it's scary!
And so last night I just knocked up a simple fresh potato salad with lots of onion, celery and mayo, and started working on my burgers.
As the article says, the trick is in the meat. So I went to the butcher's, and had him thickly grind me a nice chunk of beef, with it's fair share of fat (I love meat fat!!).
At home I simply added half a clove of pureed garlic (fresh, not from a tube), a little bit of chopped parsley - again fresh, pepper, one fresh chili pepper, malton salt and worchester sauce.
I left the burgers really thick, say one and a half centimetres (don't ask me the equivalent in inches, 'cos I have no idea!!), and cooked on the hot grill for around 8 minutes.
They were still a little pink in the centre, but far from being raw, and certainly not overly cooked.
Slapped 'em inside a fresh rosetta - tipical roman bun - with a couple of leaves of lettuce, sliced tomato, and sauteed onions.

I admit I couldn't do without the ketchup, but hey, nobody's perfect.
Easy dinner, and great success!
Snooping around the net I fould this site, completely dedicated to hamburger recipes. Some are a little OTT for my taste (bacon and banana burger is not for me, but who am I to judge?), but others are certainly worth a try.

Monday 28 May 2007


This morning I'm going to talk a little about me (come on people, fess out, we all like braggin' about ourselves!!), by answering a series of questions Merce from Pip in the City (go check her blog http://pipinthecity.wordpress.com/, great food ideas, and lovely pics of her creations) has sent me.
Being new to the blog world, I'm still trying to figure out the thin boundary between protecting my privacy and being just plain old paranoid about exposing myself too much. Certainly my answers can give you a more general idea of who I am and what I like.
So, here goes! Let's start with a pic (not the best, but this is what I've got)

My meme interview:

1. What was your favorite dish as a child?
My mum's mac and cheese, my dad's wicked rigatoni all'amatriciana (in true roman stile!) and the stuffed turkey we'd have on Christmas day, which I'll one day attempt making and post on the blog (mum de-bones the whole turkey, and no matter how much attention I pay every xmas, I still haven't mastered the skill).

2. What´s your fondest food memory?
There's two really.

The first is my dad, who passed away four years ago (it still seems like yesterday he'd be waiting up for me at night reading a book or the paper in the kitchen!), strolling around the kitchen preparing one of his magical sugos together for dinner on the rare occasion when he'd be spending sunday with us, away from work and enjoying the bustle and noise of family life. And the memory of all my xmasses in Ireland, my mother's land, preparing dinner with the family. My grandad popping a bottle of bubbly while I'd be peeling the potatoes, mum attacking the said turkey, my aunt preparing the stuffing, and then all of us trying to make the oven work (why do these things allways break down when you need them the most???), with Top of the Pops in the background.

3. How did you meet your husband?
I saw him the first time in my best friend's house one summer of...many years ago. I'd just come out of a long relationship, and had no interest in men whatsoever. He came into the house with a smug face, harldy said hello to me, and then went along for his own business chatting to his mates, never bothering to take a second look at me (or so I thought!)
I met him again a year later at a party, my dad had recently passed away, and again was in no mood to chat or be chatted up by men. We met again another couple of times after that, and even though he showed interest in me, I completely dismissed the chance of there ever being anything between us - famous last words, eh?
Then one night in a club, after one to many Camparis he offered to walk me to my car, and next thing I was in his arms!
Our relationship was quite shaky at first, we both had deep scars to show, and we had (still have) very different in personalities. I'm very open and confide blindly in people (again, I've got the scars to show it!), whereas he's, or rather was, a very closed person. But, four years down the line, we are still passionately (really!) in love with one another, and have an adorable, if a little hyperactive, son to prove it.

4. What are your all time favorite books/movies?
I love -with an absolute passion - the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Dr Frankenfurter is my kind of guy (kinky, I know. But we've all got our little fetishes, and men in fishnet tights and high heels is mine!!! To this I do wish to add that dear hubby has never worn, and never will wear fishnet tights!!!)
Some like it hot. I adore oldies, and this is by far my favorite. I used to think Tony Curtis was the hight of sexy, John Lemmon the best of commedians, Marilyn was just so marvelous, and the dialogues are wicked. Maybe I also love it because it was certainly one of my dads favourites too.
Bridget Jones diary - because for most of my life (take away the last 6 years) I was plump, shy, insecure, a little clumsy (ok, I still am clumsy!), a general mess with men, even if I did have my fare share of admirers. So I really do feel for her, plus I'm a romantic all the way, and love happy endings
The Sting - I mean, you just can't decide which one if the cutest, Robert or Paul!!!!

Books....hmmmm not easy.....I'm a real bookworm, hope I don't leave any out.....
So here goes:
The Master and Margarita - Bulgakov
Funny, gory, romantic and absolutely crazy description of Russia during the difficult Lenin times. I actually only read a few pages a day 'cos I didn't want it to end!

Emily Bronte's Wuthering heights. I read it the first time when I was no more then 13, and to meHeatcliff became the man of my romantic, still childish dreams.
Funny to say that my husband's caracther is very like his!

Perfume - Peter Suskind
I just couldn't put this book down! Yyou feel sorry for Grenouile while at the same time you find him repulsive, scary, just plain weird, but oh, so carismatic!

Kafka's The Metamorphosis. Gregor Samsa is soo soo sad, every page you turn your heart just keeps on going out to him. True magic, it always moves me to tears.

Anything by Oscar Wilde, but most of all the Ballad of Reading Goal. To think that a true dandy like him had to go through the hell of prison - in Victorian times! - and still be able to compose such music through words is incredible.
In fact it hits me so much each time I read it that here's a link to it. Please, if you've never read it, do! It will move even the most heartless of people, believe me!!!!
All of Jorge Amado's books. Nowriter was ever so good at describing the heart and soul of women.

5. Who is your biggest inspiration (in cooking or otherwise)?
Let's start with the easy bit! In the kitchen it has to be my mum, 'cos she's one hell of a cook! Creative, with a wicked imagination but also really diligent when it comes to following the rules of certain recipes. People still remember when she once stuffed a previously stuffed pheasant inside a chicken inside turkey!!!!!!!
In my life.....I really hate to say this.....but probably my mum, again.
Corny, I know. Especially when I think of all the times I promised myself while growing up that I would do anything to never ever ever be like her!!!!
how things change over time, eh? She's a strong willed woman, who faced true pain and loss in her life holding her chin up, never losing her cool, always remaining positive towards life, never letting herself go.
And all in all a pretty good mum, even if there were times when I really hated her guts!!!!
So here it is, my dears. If anybody would like me to send them questions for a meme interview, here I am!

Again, thank you Marce!! Love, Candida


1. Leave a comment saying, “Interview me" and be sure to leave your address.

2. I'll come back to you with five questions

3. You will update your blog with the answers

.4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Friday 25 May 2007

Muffin Frenzy

Ok, so I have to admit, I'm a master (or so they say) at pasta making , not so bad on the main course front, but when it comes to putting together desserts or baking cakes, well, more often then not my first attempts end up in the bin.
But I like a challenge any time it looks me in the eyes, and I've stubornly been testing my hand on the baking front, with promising results.
My latest fixation is with muffins, which are supposedly easy peasy to make, but which I managed nonetheless to mess up first time around.
But then again, I guess in the kitchen it's a question of trial and error, and success is acieved through pure perseverance. So if my first batch - of 30 muffins!!! - ended up in the bin, my second and third and so on and so forth attempts came out more then ok.
In fact, since getting the nack of muffin baking, I've become ever so slightly more daring, and am starting to venture into more interesting creations than your average chocolate version.
During my usual coffee and net brousing this morning I stumbled across this recipe, which looks interesting and within the boundaries of my yet poor baking skills.
So, as the weather forecast is all but promissing this weekend, I'll probably spend tomorrow cleaning, playing with my own little blond hurricane and giving these little sweeties a try.
Following is the recipe I've been using so far, and which has proved to be easy, fast and an absolute winner. Thank you Nigella (Lawson) for your down to earth no fuss recipes, which always inspire me, and which I always seem to go back to!

Nigella's Muffins:

6 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups Flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup sugar (even though I add more)

1/2 cup yogurt + 7 tablespoons low fat milk

1 large egg

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Melt butter and add wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix VERY (believe me when I say very!) very little, just barelly enough for the flour to have mixed in completely.
It will look very lumpy and dense, and that's the way we like it.
Spoon into paper cups lining muffin tin and bake at 180° for 20 minutes.
With this recipe you can leave your fantasy to run free. Add lots of cocoa powder and pieces of chocolate for a muffin that tastes and looks great next to a cup of espresso coffee, or soak raisins in rhum, and add mix before baking.
Another thing I did was use strawberry yogurt instead of the plain one (that's all I had in the fridge) and then add frozen raspberries to the mix. they came out lovely!

Ok, am rambling off as usual, so here is the link to the recipe I'm gonna try this weekend. will let you know!

P.s. to all, if you have other recipes, variations, ideas re muffins....LET ME KNOW!!!! I want to try them all!

Wednesday 23 May 2007

I want it too!!!

Good Morning world.
long time, no chat, but alas, work, family and belated spring cleaning have kept me away from my newborn blog, but here I am, in full glory, and chatty more then ever.
brousing through the net this morning, while sipping my first cup of espresso of the day (many more to come, believe me) I bumped into this incredible house!

I absolutely love these floors, even if I must admit that the overall effect might, for many, be a little OTT!

I only wish I had the courage (and the dosh!) to change my simple and incredibly ugly floors, and do something of the sort in my house, and stop being lazy and the usual procrastinator I am and buy tubs of paint to give more life to my many (too many) white walls.
phone ringing, work awaiting, better get my act together and start another day, with the promise to myself to download pics of my latest food experiments tomorrow, for the world to see!!!

Wednesday 9 May 2007

Ahhhh, what a day

Just a few lines to start off my new adventure on the fantastic world of blogging and of discussing and sharing one of the greatest pleasures in life, food.
I love trying and sharing my coulinary experiments (which often enough end up in the garbage bin!) with friends and family, so no better reason to start doing so here.
I'm thrilled by the idea of receiving comments and advise from people from all over the world, whom, like myself, enjoy living their kitchen and eating their food.
plus this will be a great way for me to perfect my somewhat poor photographic skills, by taking and then posting creations, again successfull and not.
I do hope that this journey shall be as much fun for you as I'm sure it will be for me.
xxxx, Lulu