Getting Ready for Thanksgiving – Some Side Dish Ideas

Snoopy_Woodstock_Thanksgiving_DinnerThanksgiving is a week away so you better start thinking about your menu! There are certain things you know you’re going to have, like a turkey, but for the most part you get a free range with your sides. Cheryl and I have been doing Thanksgiving together for eight years now and we’re always trying out at least one new side dish, or a twist on it. Here are a few which ideas which might come in handy next week. (more…)

Nduja – Taking The Next Step on The Path of Charcuterie

Nduja - Spicy Calabrian sausageI am very excited about this week’s post. The first time we ate nduja was years ago at The Purple Pig here in Chicago and neither of us knew what it was, except that it was really fricking awesome. It’s a Calabrian sausage (toe of the Italian boot) and it is spicy! Spreadable, you can eat it on bread or add as a flavoring to soups, stews, stuff chicken breasts with it, mix in with sauce and pasta, have with eggs; it’s a very versatile sausage. Nduja also introduces a new technique for the artisanal craft sausage maker, fermenting. I don’t know if this technique is the pinnacle of sausage making but it sure seems so. (more…)

Sautéed Pumpkin and Chestnuts

Thanksgiving side dish Pumpkin with chestnutsPumpkins have been filling up our CSA box here at the end of the season, and aside from pureed soups and pies what else can you do with them? Well, pumpkin is squash so you can treat it just like any other squash by roasting, mashing, or sautéing. This week I came across an interesting recipe for sautéed pumpkin and chestnuts which further satisfied my ‘what else…?’ question. (more…)

Spice Club from Savory Spice and Coffee Spiced Sausage Rigatoni

Coffee Rub sausage rigatoni2As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I purchase my spices and herbs from a shop in Lincoln Square called Savory Spice. Last week I received an email from the store’s owner, Dave, asking if I’d be interested in taking a look at a new program they were introducing called Spice Club. Sounded very interesting, especially as an excellent gift idea for the upcoming holiday season, so I said yes. (more…)

Vellutata de Ceci (Chick Pea Soup) – Tuscan Vacation Inspiration

Vellutata de ceci - Chick pea soupA few weeks ago, on our last day in San Gimignano, we ate lunch at a small place just off the main piazza called Osteria del Carcere. Despite being just down the street from where all the tourists congregate and queue up for gelato (there’s an award-winning gelateria in San Gimignano) the osteria seemed rather un-touristy. Just our kind of place. As the two of us sat there ooh-ing and ahh-ing over our zuppe (Cheryl had a really garlicky ribollita which she wasn’t sharing much of) I had already decided the vellutata de ceci I had ordered would be the first thing I’d try to recreate when we got home. (more…)

San Gimignano and the Via Francigena, Travel Post Part 2

Via Francigena

Hard to believe Cheryl and I were in San Gimignano going for a hike on the Via Francigena just a week ago. Seems like it was longer than that. What is it about vacation weeks moving too fast and work weeks taking forever? We covered the first part of our Tuscan holiday in my last post so here’s the rest of the trip: some photos from along the Via Francigena and San Gimignano. (more…)

Roaming Around Tuscany – Travel Post, Part 1

San Gimignano

The towers of San Gimignano, there used to be even more!

It’s been 4 years since the last time we were in Italy. Waaaaay too long for me, so all year long whenever Cheryl asked ‘where would you like to travel next?’ I said ‘Italy.’ Every. Time. It seems to have worked because here we are in San Gimignano, Tuscany. Not that I really had to twist her arm much. (more…)