A Classic Piadina – Prosciutto e Taleggio (Ham and Cheese)

Prosciutto PiadinaWhat’s a piadina? A thin, almost pita-like Italian flatbread dough which doesn’t rise and can cook quickly on a grill or griddle. From our travels throughout Italy I’ve noticed these types of sandwiches are pretty popular in small cafes and places where people are on-the-go like, train stations. Piadina (piadine?) can be filled with a variety of sandwich-type ingredients but the most popular one is the classic ham and cheese, prosciutto e formaggio. (more…)

Asparagus Lemon Custard – A Savory Springtime Treat


Asparagus and Lemon CustardI can’t get enough of asparagus in the spring, it’s one of my favorite vegetables and I try to use it a lot because of the shortish season. It just makes me happy because I know spring is really here. Plain old sautéed/steamed asparagus can get kind of boring though so last week I browsed through a few cookbooks looking for ideas. I saw a savory custard recipe in Classico e Moderno which caught my eye, and part of the description said asparagus was commonly added. Just the kind of idea I was looking for to tinker with. (more…)

Homemade Mustard – Condiment Making 101

Homemade Grainy MustardMustard. Chicago’s favored hot dog condiment and one which comes in many forms. There’s spicy, sweet, honey, stone ground, Dijon, country-style, Chinese, German, sharp and tangy…I could go on and on. If you take a look at the ingredients you’ll find, no matter which is your favorite, mustards are pretty much all made with the same stuff and there’s also not much in the way of preservatives. If there are minimal ingredients, then it should be pretty easy to make some at home right? This week I put that theory to the test. (more…)

Artichokes & Asparagus with Olives and Lemon (Carciofi e Aspraragi)

Artichokes asparagus olives and lemonSpring is here!  Not quite temperature-wise but mainly in the appearance of vegetables like artichokes and asparagus at the store. Artichokes and asparagus are a great combination and I was really happy to have some different ‘in-season’ produce to work with. It’s not a very revolutionary preparation but a quick sauté with some acid (lemon) and salt (olives, cheese) gave us our first true crisp and bright spring dish for the year. (more…)

Sunday Dinner Side Dish: Potatoes Dauphinoise

Potatoes dauphinoiseWhile you may think this potato dish gets its name from being prepared for French royalty, it’s actually named after the region it comes from: Dauphiné.  The French have some great potato preparations and this is no exception.  Goes great with any Sunday dinner and since I hadn’t made Potatoes Dauphinoise in a long while it seemed like a good pairing for the roast chicken I was making.  (more…)

English Harbour, Antigua – A Vacation of Sun, Sand, and Rum

English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua

English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua – Galleon Beach at the bottom, Pigeon Beach is on the other side of the hill in the middle, Nelson’s Dockyard and our hotel are middle right. View from Shirley Heights

If there’s one thing which can help cure the gloomy mood of an overly long and cold winter, it’s a trip to an island with plenty of sun, rum, and beaches.  We tried to go to Antigua back over Valentine’s Day but a snowstorm knocked out the east coast and our flight was canceled.  Thanks winter.  We got the last laugh though as this weekend we finally made it out of Chicago to Antigua, and have spent the week melting off the winter blues. (more…)

Sicilian Pizza and Arcade Games

Sicilian pizzaThumbing through Classico e Moderno for some pizza ideas I came across a recipe for a Sicilian style pie which reminded me of pizzerias back home in New York and summers of riding around with friends playing arcade games.  Just like here in Chicago, we had different types of pizza growing up; the regular pizza, flat round, awesome crust (note I do not call it NY-style as it’s just pizza to us) and the other lesser known Sicilian, which was thick and rectangular, fluffy, and you only needed one slice.  Not all pizzerias had Sicilian and not everyone likes it.  Since I’ve lived away from home for 15 years now and haven’t seen a Sicilian slice outside of New York I figured I’d have a go at trying to make some. (more…)