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July 28, 2007

food pics from Bologna

One more entry for Bologna and then I will move onto Rome. The food in Bologna is definitely one of the highlights of this wonderful city. Here are a few pictures that I took during my afternoon there:

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Continue reading "food pics from Bologna" »

October 2, 2007

shave ice

When I was first asked to start a blog to document my travels, I was busy getting prepared for my trip to Italy. I was leaving in two weeks with tons still left to do and no time to think up a "catchy" name. I decided on using a title that would describe my trip. After returning from Italy and adding posts about Hawaii, I decided it was finally time to change the name of my blog. I wanted a title that represented both Hawaii and Italy. I came up with the idea of "shave ice & gelato" because it represents two unique treats - one relating to Hawaii and one relating to Italy. I hope you like it.

Just about everyone knows about gelato, but I am not sure if everyone knows about shave ice.

hawaiishaveice_2.jpg So, what is shave ice?

I have heard people trying to compare it to a slush cup or a snow cone. It is neither a slush cup nor a snow cone. It is soooo much better.

Snow cones and slush cups are usually made from ground ice. What makes shave ice unique is the way the ice is cut. You start with a block of ice. As the block of ice spins around, the razor-sharp blade "shaves" the ice making a soft fluffy texture. The "shaved" ice is then packed into a paper cone.



I found this video on YouTube which demonstrates how shave ice is made:

Once the ice is packed into the cone, various flavors of syrup are then poured on top. Because the shave ice is so fine, the flavors absorb into the ice rather than settling to the bottom of the cone.

When ordering a shave ice, you are faced with many choices. First, you must decide if you want a small or a large shave ice.

Next, you need to decide if you want just shave ice, a scoop of vanilla ice cream at the bottom of your cone, azuki beans at the bottom of your cone, or a combo of both ice cream and azuki beans. When I first heard of beans with shave ice, I could not imagine why anyone would want to have beans with shave ice. Once I tried it, I understood. The beans are not like regular beans. They are sweet and so ONO when mixed with ice cream and shave ice.

Finally, you must decide on the flavors. You can usually have three flavors poured on top of the ice. Two of the most famous shave ice places on Oahu, both located in Haleiwa on the North Shore, are Matsumoto's and Aoki's. You will always find a long line at both of these shave ice stores. Below are the flavors each offer.

Matsumoto's offers:
Strawberry, Pineapple, Lemon, Coconut, Banana, Vanilla, Root Beer, Grape, Lime, Lilikoi (passion fruit), Orange, Honeydew, Melon, Mango, Raspberry, Coffee, Watermelon, Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Pinacolada, Banana Cream, Lihing Mui, Lychee, and Cherry.

Aoki's offers:
Strawberry, Banana, Pineapple, Lemon, Lilikoi, Coconut, Rootbeer, Vanilla, Melona, Chocolate, Blue Hawaii, Coffee, Bubble Gum, Cherry, Lime, Orange, Watermelon, Guava, Mango, Rasberry, Cotton Candy, Li Hing Mui, Grape, Strawberry Cream, Lychee, and Pina Colada. As well as the following Sugar free flavors: Strawberry, Banana, & Watermelon.

And here are my dear friends Katia & Guido enjoying a shave ice from Aoki's:
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February 4, 2008

my attempt to bake a cake

After hearing so much about the cookbook, Dolce Italiano, I decided I needed my own copy. While waiting for Amazon to ship my book, I read all the blogs featuring the recipes and imagined all the wonderful recipes I would make.

When my book finally arrived in the mail, I realized that I was poorly equipped with the necessary ingredients and equipment needed to actually bake anything. It took a while to gather up some of the necessary ingredients, including kosher salt, polenta flour, vanilla beans. Then I realized that I only own three pans for baking: a muffin pan, a loaf pan, and a rectangular pan, as well as a couple of cookie sheets. So, back to Amazon to order some pans. I ordered a wonderful new springform pan, a 9-inch square cake pan, and a zester and my dad gave me a bundt pan that he never used.

While waiting for my new pans to arrive, I made the Ricotta Pound Cake. It was a pretty simple recipe to follow. I ended up cutting the recipe in half because I ate some of the ricotta before I finally found the Vanilla Beans at a reasonable price. I think I might have taken it out of the oven a little too soon, but I still found it to be quite delicious. I cut it up into pieces and put most of it in the freezer, taking it out and heating it up each morning to have for breakfast with my morning espresso.

My new pans arrived last weekend. Once they arrived, I realized why I owned so few pans. Each one takes up storage room! One of the reasons baking is such a challenge for me is because of the very limited space I have in my kitchen. I have three tiny counters in my tiny kitchen. Because I have limited storage space, many of my baking pans are stored in my oven. This is where my new pans also ended up. When I bake, I have to take all the stored pans out of the oven. They end up balancing on top of my pans on the stove as well as overflowing onto a couple of my counters. I use two counters to hold the bowl for the dry ingredients and some of the other ingredients needed for the recipe. That leaves me with one counter (with my espresso machine already on this counter) to actually do the measuring, chopping, and the mixing with my little hand mixer, because of course I have no room for one of those nice Kitchen-Aid mixers. I even use my sink at times as free space before it gets filled up with dishes. That means, no room for my cookbook, which I end up putting in my living room area and go back and forth to refer to while baking. If you are getting the picture, it is quite a challenge to actually try to bake anything in my kitchen. I thought about taking a photo of all the pans balanced on my stove, but I would have had to clean my kitchen first to do that (you know, how you clean before the maid comes to clean?).

On Saturday, I finally got up the courage to attempt one of the more complicated recipes; the Citrus-Glazed Polenta Cake. This is one of the recipes I have wanted to make since getting Dolce Italiano. I can proudly announce that I successfully created a delicious Citrus-Glazed Polenta Cake. I did not take a picture of it however as it fell in the middle while cooling. It still tasted quite wonderful and even better the next day!! It tastes like a gourmet cornbread cake. I love cornbread!!

Next up, perhaps a tart? I don't think however I will be able to make my own crust. It would just be a little too challenging with the space available.

Dolce Italiano is a fabulous cookbook. Well done, Stella!! I am so happy that I have discovered it.

I am looking forward to some wonderful morning treats of Citrus-Glazed Polenta Cake with my morning espresso. Yummy!!

February 16, 2008

focaccia col formaggio

Manuelina is a restaurant in Recco famous for it's focaccia. I first heard about this restaurant and the focaccia they make from my Italian teacher, while taking a night class here in Hawaii.

In 2003, I spent a few nights in Camogli. After arriving in Camogli, one of the first things I did was to inquire on how to get to Recco. I was told that Recco was not that far and so I decided to walk there. It was a long walk (about 3 KM each way). The town of Recco itself was not that far, but Manuelina was located at the far end of Recco from Camogli.

When I finally arrived at Manuelina, I was rewarded with the most wonderful focaccia - focaccia col formaggio. This focaccia was not anything like the typical focaccia one has seen or eaten. It was thinner and filled with a delicious cheese mixture. The taste reminded me of my mom's blintzes. The only thing missing was the plum jelly to put on top.

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So, if you are ever in Recco, make sure to visit Manuelina and order some focaccia col formaggio. They also have a take out window just for the focaccia.

March 23, 2008

tiny treats from a pasticceria in Coccaglio

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Happy Easter!! ~ Happy Sunday!!


August 16, 2008

"colorful" ~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

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August 17, 2008

the omnivore’s hundred

From Kim and Jerry who both got it from Krista who got it from Last Night's Dinner who got it from Andrew over at Very Good Taste.

Directions:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

I added one extra step - a * next to those I would never try again.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (not sure if I would try this or not)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht (not a beet person)
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho (would have it again if it was a chicken version)
13. PB&J sandwich* I had PB&J once as a child. That was the day I realized that I can't stand peanut butter.
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart* do not think I could eat one today now that I know more about the water the dogs sit in...eeeew
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes (might have??)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans* not a bean lover
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut* not a sauerkraut fan
35. Root beer float* nor a root beer fan
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (YUCK)
37. Clotted cream tea (sounds yummy)
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (not if I was starving)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk (might have?)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (would take a sip but am not a whiskey person)
46. Fugu (don't think I would take the chance on the chef being knowledgeable enough to not poison me)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel* had eels in Hong Kong, couldn't get past the idea I was eating eels!!
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (just never had the chance)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal* loved them as a child but do not eat red meat anymore
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (would take a sip but am not a martini person)
58. Beer above 8% ABV (I don't like beer)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads EDITING this one - I originally bolded this one thinking that sweetbreads meant the Portuguese sweetbread popular here in Hawaii, but after seeing Marta's list and that she crossed this one out, I googled sweetbreads and found out it means the thymus glands of lamb, beef, or pork...eeeeewwwww!!
63. Kaolin (what is this??)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs* eeeew again! tried a taste once but could not get past the thought of it being frogs' legs!
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (seriously? would anyone eat roadkill?)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie* there are too many other desserts I would rather eat
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (might have?)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe Beef
86. Hare - EDITING this one - I originally bolded this one thinking that rabbit and hare were the same, but found out they are not and so although I originally thought that I had eaten hare, now I am not sure.
87. Goulash (might have?)
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam* now that I know what is in spam, not a fan
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (too similar to eels for me)

October 30, 2008

gelato in Acqui

One of the things I miss about Italy...

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Continue reading "gelato in Acqui" »

November 26, 2008

pumpkin crunch

For the past two years, I had a little boy in my class who brought in all kinds of home baked goodies that his mom would bake for us throughout the year. My favorite treat was her pumpkin crunch. She gave us her recipe after we raved about how delicious it was.

When her son moved on to Kindergarten this year, I figured that was the end of the goodies. Instead, she has continued to spoil me with breads, mochi, and other delicious treats. This morning when I arrived at school, I was thrilled when my former student came up to me with a package in his hand. Two squares of his mom's famous pumpkin crunch. Lucky me!!

I have been thinking about either trying out the pumpkin crunch recipe or making my mom's pecan pie or pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving this year. In the end, I decided against all three in order to try to stay on a good diet low in cholesterol, fearing I would eat the entire pan of pumpkin crunch or the entire pie! I also didn't want to bring any of these sweets over to my dad's house for Thanksgiving due to various diet and health concerns. Instead, I have decided to make cranberry nut muffins.

I have to admit though, that I was secretly hoping that she was planning to bake her pumpkin crunch again this year. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without some type of pumpkin treat.

Below is a photo of the one pumpkin crunch square left. I already ate one square tonight (couldn't wait til tomorrow). The cranberry muffins will have to wait til this weekend. I have terrible lighting in my kitchen and am in need of better dishes for photography purposes, so just focus on the food.

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In case you want to give it a try, here is the recipe. It looks pretty easy to make.

Pumpkin Crunch

Main ingredients:
1 can solid-pack pumpkin (29 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (13 oz)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box yellow pudding cake mix
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup butter, melted

Frosting:
1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 cup cool whip

Mix the pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, and cinnamon together. Pour into a 9X13 inch pan lined with wax paper. Pour 1 box of cake mix (dry) over pumpkin mixture and pat nuts on the cake mix. Spoon melted butter evenly over the nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. When done, invert onto tray and peel off the waxed paper. When slightly cooled, spread frosting on top.

To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in cool whip. Spread over the cake evenly. Refrigerate.

November 30, 2008

cheesecake bars

I joined the Slow Trav chat this morning. The topic was ~ Share your Homemade Gifts and Recipes for a Thrifty Christmas. I mentioned cheesecake bars (a recipe my mom used to make) and said I would post the recipe on my blog. They are very easy to make, even for someone who rarely bakes.

Cheesecake Bars

2 rolls of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 eight ounce packages of softened cream cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat together cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and sugar until very smooth.

Cut one roll of the cookies into 1/4 inch thick circles and spread on the bottom of a slightly greased 9X13 baking pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of the cookies. Add the second roll of cookies on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Let cool, then cut into squares. Refrigerate.


I suppose you could use homemade chocolate bit cookie dough instead of using the rolls of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough to make this recipe a bit healthier.

The last time I made these, I tried using the new pre-cut refrigerated cookie dough mix that comes on sheets. They were easier to use than the rolls of cookie dough (the cookie dough starts melting very quickly here in Hawaii and can get quite messy) but I ended up having too much cream cheese mixture and not enough cookie dough mix because the pre-cut cookies are much smaller. I think they would work well though if you bought more pre-cut sheets of the cookie dough.

I have always received great feedback and requests for the recipe whenever I have made these. The only catch when giving them as gifts at work is that you need to make sure refrigeration will be available unless your friends plan to eat them all right away.

**Edited to add photos...

Bottom layer:
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Cheesecake filling and top layer:
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Cheesecake bars just out of the oven:
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Of course I forgot to take a picture of the cheesecake bars cut up to show the 3 layers ~ cookie/cheesecake filling/cookie.

December 5, 2008

in LOVE with Greek Gods

After eating yogurt in Italy, you could say I am a yogurt snob. I can no longer eat most US made yogurts. They are all much too sweet and don't have the same consistency of European yogurt.

Recently though, I have discovered the most delicious yogurt...Greek God's Yogurt. If you have not tried this yogurt yet, I would recommend that you jump in your car and get to the nearest store to try some.

My two favorite flavors are:

Greek God's Pomegranate Yogurt
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Continue reading "in LOVE with Greek Gods" »

December 6, 2008

"breakfast"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


Breakfast in Italy can be simple:
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(cappuccino and brioche in Camogli)

or elaborate:
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(buffet breakfast at Hotel Eden in Sirmione, Lake Garda)


Breakfast in Italy can also be in beautiful settings:
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(outside table at Hotel Eden in Sirmione, Lake Garda)

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(garden table at Hotel Victoria in Torino)

BUT my favorite breakfast in Italy is breakfast with my friends Guido & Katia:
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(sitting outside Katia's parents' house in Coccaglio enjoying her mom's beautiful garden)

December 15, 2008

keiffles

As you probably have noticed, I am not a big baker. I would be more enthusiastic except my kitchen is so tiny. I have very limited counter space and I usually store most of my pans in my oven. When I need to use my oven, the pans need to go somewhere. My place turns into balancing act and an obstacle course until my baking is complete.

With fingers crossed that I would not lose power again, I tackled a very ambitious (for me) project this weekend, baking three different types of treats; Cheesecake Bars, Keiffles, and Russian Tea Cookies. I will add photos to my previous cheesecake bars post tomorrow and will do another post on the Russian tea cakes later this week. My motivation for this baking project came from all the wonderful food blog posts I have read this past year.

Food%2BBlogga%2BCookie%2BLogo.JPEGAfter finding so many wonderful cookie recipes on Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies blogging event, including the Russian tea cake cookie recipe I made this weekend (which I found on Food Blogga's 2007 Eat Christmas Cookies event), I wanted to contribute by entering a my keiffles recipe. Click here to check out the roundup of entries already submitted and click on the logo to the left or the Food Blogga link above to see how to submit your favorite Christmas Cookie recipe.

My great aunt, Auntie Edith, shared this keiffles recipe with me many years ago. Although these are technically not Christmas cookies given that my aunt was Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas, I have often made these cookies at Christmas time.

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Here are the steps:

Cream two sticks of butter and one 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
together. Then add 3 cups of flour. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll into little balls the size of walnuts. Roll the balls flat in powdered sugar
in the shape of ovals and then put a drop of jelly on each oval.
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Fold the two sides over and then pinch the ends.
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Place on cookie sheets. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes until lightly
brown. Cool on cooling racks.
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KEIFFLES

3 cups flour
2 sticks butter (8 oz.)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
powdered sugar
jelly or jam

Cream the butter and cream cheese together.
Add the flour.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll balls flat in powdered sugar in the shape of ovals.
Put a drop of jelly on each oval and roll up pinching the ends.
Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes until lightly brown.

This recipe makes approximately 45 keiffles.

December 22, 2008

edible reindeers

It seems every year, at least one of the kids in my class cannot eat nuts. Instead of making the standard peanut butter on bread reindeer sandwiches, we have had to do a little thinking outside the box. Here are a couple of cooking activities we have done instead...

We've made hummus reindeer...
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...and pancake reindeer. The hummus reindeer are more of a hands on activity, where as the pancake reindeer are more popular for eating (my kids are usually picky eaters).
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I might give Palma's reindeer cookies a try next year (with a non-peanut butter cookie recipe).

December 23, 2008

russian tea cakes

The third type of treat I made during my baking frenzy weekend was Russian Tea Cakes. These are shortbread–like cookies that contain mostly ground nuts and butter and are rolled in powdered sugar once they are baked. They are popular in many cultures during the holidays as well as for other festive occasions.

These cookies also go by many names: Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Viennese Sugar Balls, Italian Butter Nuts, Italian Nut Cookies, Southern Pecan Butterballs, Snowdrops, and Snowballs.

As you can imagine there are tons of recipes out there for this cookie. I decided on using the Russian Tea Cake recipe from Paula’s wonderful Half Baked blog and I was not disappointed.

The secret everyone says to making these cookies taste great is to use high quality butter and pure vanilla extract. I found a very informative description of the types of butter on Joyofbaking.com.

"Butter in the States is graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one easy way to tell the quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the butter's package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score), followed by B (90 score). Buying vanilla extract can also be a challenge as there are so many choices. The first thing to do is to make sure that it is labeled "pure". The best I have found, although it is quite expensive, is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract that can be found in specialty food stores and by mail order. If your budget doesn't allow this expenditure or you cannot find it, don't worry, there are quality brands to be found in your local grocery store. Just stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste."

My mom always talked about making sure to avoid using imitation vanilla extract. I never knew that it came from sapwood or coal extracts...eeew! I also was not aware that butter came in different grades until I read this.

When making these cookies, Paula of Half Baked also recommends using high quality butter and vanilla extract. She also warns that dropping them into the powdered sugar is the tricky part. Too soon and the sugar melts and you burn your fingertips, too late the cookie cools the sugar doesn't stick well.

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I used macadamia nuts as the nut in this recipe. I also decided to put green food coloring in my recipe to make them more festive, although this is probably a cardinal sin for this cookie. The cookies were very easy to make and were soooo delicious! I will definitely be making these again.

The only time consuming part was rolling them one by one in the powdered sugar (since I made a double batch). I also probably left them in the oven a couple of minutes too long but the powdered sugar covered up any brown spots.

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My fancy attempt to photograph these delicious cookies:
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Russian Tea Cakes

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again

January 10, 2009

shave ice ~ take two

After many days of cleaning, organizing, and tackling piles, I treated my self to a beautiful day up on the North Shore at one of my favorite beaches and then a stop at..
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I wrote about shave ice once before here. My previous post on shave ice included a video of how shave ice is made. By the way, the proper name is "shave" ice, not "shaved" ice as many of the reporters called it when reporting Obama's recent shave ice excursion.

Haleiwa has two great shave ice shops. Matsumoto's is the more famous of the two. I personally prefer Aoki's. They have more flavors and the lines are usually shorter. Matsumoto's as usual had a big line out the door. I was very surprised to find no line when I arrived at Aoki's. I was so lucky. Right after I got my shave ice, the crowd arrived. Because there was no one else in the shop while I was ordering, I was able to take a few photos...

The shave ice machine (behind glass so not a great photo).
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The sign with all the flavors. I missed getting a better shot of my shave ice being made because I was so distracted trying to decide which flavors to choose.
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Watermelon syrup being poured on top of my shave ice.
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My shave ice ready to eat. Yum!! I went with mango, liliko'i, and watermelon and ice cream at the bottom (I decided to go without the beans this time).
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I wanted to take a photo holding my full size shave ice but it kept melting and dripping all over the place. I got it on my shorts and drops fell on my toes. This was the first chance I had to take a photo after finally getting the melting and dripping under control.
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They really need to make a mini size shave ice. I can never finish mine. See my next post "aftermath" for the ending of my shave ice.

January 11, 2009

the papaya section...

This photo is for Amy. A while back I wrote about seeing Hurley from Lost at the Kailua Down to Earth papaya section. Here is that papaya section...

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It is difficult to read some of signs after resizing the photo to fit on my blog. The types of papayas available the day I was there were certified organic papayas, strawberry papayas, kahuku papayas, and solo papayas. There are also apple bananas and regular bananas at the top.

February 8, 2009

dinner at Osteria al 15

I have been meaning to write about my memorable dinner at Osteria al 15 for quite a while now. This osteria can easly be missed since it is located on a quiet side street. Outside this osteria, you will find the only written menu.
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I was shown to a table in a little room up a few stairs. I think I remember there being five tables in this little area. A group of four American college girls studying in Bologna sat at one table and an Italian couple sat at another table. View of the entrance area from my table:
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After being seated, my waiter, who I am pretty sure was also the owner, started rattling off the menu items rapidly in Italian. Because I am always confused between the tortelloni or tortellini, I stopped him when he mentioned one asking him if it had meat. He asked me if I was a vegetarian. I said yes since I did not see fish or chicken on the menu outside (both of which I do eat). He recommended a few dishes to me that did not include meat.

I hesitantly chose the ricotta all’ aceto balsamico caramellato not knowing what to expect. OMG, it was incredible!!! Delicious ricotta cheese topped with a homemade combination of Modena’s expensive balsamic vinegar, honey, and caramel.
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I was also given a basket of some type of fried bread which I dipped in the balsamic sauce. Heavenly!! (this photo unfortunately came out a little blurry)
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For my primi, I had the tortelloni con burro e salvia, one of my all time favorite dishes.
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When the waiter returned, I asked him about the newspapers on the ceiling. He was very proud of the ceiling and told me a story about how the newspapers ended up on the ceiling. He and a few others (I forget exactly who now) saved all of the old newspapers and put them on the ceiling themselves.
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After telling me about the newspapers and the ceiling, he took me on a tour of the rest of the restaurant showing me some of the older pots and pans on a wall near the back of the restaurant, all of which he found at different outdoor markets.

When I returned to my table, he asked me if I was ready for dessert. Sadly, I had no room. I asked him if the osteria was open for lunch, hoping to stop by again so that I could enjoy another meal at this osteria and try some dessert. He told while pointing to his dark tan, that he was only open for dinner because he goes to the beach during the day,

I highly recommend Osteria al 15. Not only is fabulous food served at this osteria, but it is also a fun place to have dinner. The bonus for me was that Osteria al 15 was only one street away from the hotel where I was staying. I highly recommend this osteria for the food, the atmosphere, and for the kindness shown to the customers. I think about the times I have felt unwelcome as a single diner and have even been turned away because I was a single diner and then think about my wonderful experience at this restaurant. This is how customers should be treated everywhere. It will be tops on my list of places to return to the next time I am in Bologna. Thank you Amy for reminding me of this fabulous little osteria in Bologna.

February 11, 2009

poi

Have you ever heard of poi? Have you tried poi? If you have, did you like it?

I LOVE poi!

Poi is a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet. Poi is made from mashing up the root of the taro plant. Poi is a very nutritious food. For more on the specifics of poi, check out this link and this link.

I can't remember the first time I tried poi, but it was probably soon after I moved to Hawaii. I'm not sure why, but the first few times I ate poi, it reminded me of the baby food plums I used to love to eat when I was little. I have never met anyone else that compares poi to baby food plums so it is probably just a strange comparison I make. I have heard of people comparing poi to paste though. I don't understand this comparison at all. Poi is delicious and this is coming from a very picky eater. I think people that think eating poi is like eating paste go into it with a certain attitude and have never really given poi a chance.

I love my poi sour and I definitely don't put sugar in my poi. When I first started eating poi, I preferred to eat it combined with lomi lomi salmon or chicken but now I am just as happy to eat it all by itself. There is a Hawaiian Food stand in the Ala Moana Shopping Center food court. I sometimes stop by and order a little bowl of poi. The ladies are always amazed that this haole girl will just order a bowl of poi all by itself.

Taro brand poi is my favorite brand of poi. You can buy poi at any grocery store. This is a photo of a few bags of poi on the grocery store.
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If you look closely, you will see that this bag of poi has a green tie.
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The colored ties correspond with the delivery dates on the chart posted by the poi. The color of the tie will tell you how old the poi. I usually like to buy my poi two or three days old. The older the poi, the more sour it will be.
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You will find these instructions on the back of the bag of poi:

Mixing Instructions for a 16 oz. bag of poi:
1. Add 8 ounces or 1 cup of water to bag.
2. Knead the poi to loosen from the bag.
3. Pour into a bowl and stir until smooth.

To prevent poi from crusting, float 1/4 inch of water on the surface. Refrigerate mixed poi to retain freshness or leave at room temperature to age poi to desired tartness.

As you can see, I didn't do the best with getting all of the lumps out of my bowl of poi, but that was ok with me. I ate half of this bowl of poi as part of my dinner one night and finished up the poi the following night. Yummy!!
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Three day weekend coming up :)

February 16, 2009

part 1 ~ the food in Bologna

The food!! ~ Reason #1 why I love Bologna.

I have eaten wonderful food all over Italy (well in 11 regions of Italy) and I have to say that one of my favorite places to find food that has blown me away with each bite is in Bologna.

To give you a little background about my taste in food, I don’t eat beef and pork (although I have occasionally been tempted to try a tiny piece of good proscuitto). Because I like to have at least a few options on the menu, I am more picky about the restaurants I like to eat at. I often decide against eating at restaurants famous for mainly meat dishes. Put ravioli or tortelloni con burro e salvia (butter and sage) on the menu and I will order it. I also love fresh pomodoro (tomato) sauce and a good pesto sauce (although you won’t find much pesto in Bologna).

I have been to Bologna four times now, although my first visit really doesn't count since it was only a quick two hour peek in 2000 while waiting for a train connection to Verona. I can't even remember what I ate while I was there. My first real visit to Bologna was a one night stay the following year in 2001 to break up the train travel from Rome to Coccaglio. My second visit to Bologna was again a one night stay, this time in 2007 to break up train travel from Coccaglio to Cortona. Last summer, I finally spent more time in Bologna, this time spending six nights. I was so excited to finally have enough time to try more of the amazing restaurants I had read about.

Back in 2001 during my one night stay in Bologna, I ate lunch at Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello (located at Via Montegrappa 2). I ordered the melanzane all parmigiana (eggplant parmesan) and the Fiori di Zucchini (fried zucchini flowers). It was so good that I returned to Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello for dinner. I don’t recall what I ordered for dinner, but I do remember ordering some sort of zuppa inglese or zabaglione dessert which was delicious.

Two years ago during my second visit to Bologna, again a one night stay, I enjoyed a very delicious lunch at Al Sangiovese (Vicolo del Falcone, 2), a wonderful restaurant just down the street from the Hotel Porta San Mamolo where I was staying. I ordered the spinach and ricotta tortelloni with burro and salvia (butter and sage) for lunch. It was so good that I returned there that night and ordered it again for dinner.

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Last year, I had two so so meals the first two nights of my stay. I returned to Ristorante Montegrappa da Nello for my first dinner in Bologna. I think there was a bit of miscommunication when I ordered because instead of being served the fresh pomodoro with penne I thought I ordered, I ended up being served half tortelline with the creme pomodoro sauce and half penne with the fresh pomodoro sauce. The misunderstanding turned out ok though because I ended up being served two types of pasta. The pasta was good, but not outstanding. I also ordered a caprese salad (mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil) which was just ok. I have had much better caprese salads in the past. I now have mixed feelings about this restaurant.

The second evening many restaurants were closed. My hotel recommended Le Mura, an osteria across the street. That sounded wonderful to me since I spent the day in Modena walking all day. La Mura was just ok. It had a smoky smell inside, although no one was actually smoking while I was there. The menu was meat based. The waiter who was perhaps the owner was extremely nice. He offered to make me some penne pasta with a tomato and cream sauce. I also ordered some grilled vegetables. The food was good but not anything to rave about. Then again, the meat dishes may be fantastic.

After two good but not great meals, I was starting to wonder about the food in Bologna. On Monday, I did the long trek to the Sanctuary I did the long trek to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca one day while in Bologna. I had a sandwich in a bar for lunch. If only I had known about Trattoria Meloncello, which is located near the start of the walk to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca, I would have definitely eaten there for lunch. Make sure to read this review if you are heading to Bologna. The restaurant is given a 9.5 out of a 10 rating.

For dinner that evening, I decided to give Ristorante Teresina a try. Colleenk from Slow Travel wrote a nice review about this restaurant. Ristorante Teresina is located between the two towers and Piazza Maggiore right off the main street (Via Francesco Rizzoli) at Via Guglielmo Oberdan, 4. I was seated inside at a little table in the corner. There was also outside seating but I prefer eating inside now that there is no smoking inside and everyone smokes outside. This was the view of the tables across from me.

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Two very nice waiters took my order and brought me my food. I ordered melone (without the prosciutto) and then mezzelune ripiene di melanzane e formaggio caprino con pomodoro fresco e basilica. My melone (cantalope) was wonderful.

The mezzeluna pasta filled with eggplant and a type of cheese that I think came from sheep was incredibile! The photo does not do it justice.

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My dinner at Ristorante Teresina was the best meal I had so far during my entire stay in Italy last summer. For once at the end of my meal I had room for dessert, but I declined because I wanted to keep the taste of the mezzeluna pasta in my mouth for as long as possible. After I paid my bill, I told one of the waiters that my meal was so good that I wanted to make a reservation to return the following night.

The next evening, I returned Ristorante Teresina. One of the waiters smiled when I arrived. He said they were waiting for me and showed me to my same table. I ordered the mezzaluna pasta again along with the rabbit roll with rosemary.
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The food was fabulous. I ate much too much with my big lunch earlier in the day and had no room for dessert. When paying the bill, the waiter brought me some grappa. I thanked him but told him that I could not drink it because to me grappa tastes like gasoline (not that I have actually tasted gasoline). He was so nice that he then offered me some limoncella. After drinking my limoncella I thanked both of the waiters once again and headed to Piazza Maggiore.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming up tomorrow on the food in Bologna...

February 17, 2009

part 2 ~ the food in Bologna

Wednesday morning, after eating a very filling breakfast at my hotel, I stopped at the beautiful Caffè Zanarini for an espresso.

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Caffè Zanarini is located at the corner of Piazza Galvani on Via Farini. After paying, I ordered a caffè macchiato, which was excellent. Oh how I wished I had room to try one of the delicious pastries. I was very impressed that the barista gave everyone who ordered some type of coffee drink a little glass of acqua frizzante (fizzy water). I have not had this happen before, or at least that I remember.

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I ate at Caffè Zamboni (Via Zamboni, 6) for lunch. Caffè Zamboni is a fun little bustling caffè. I ordered a stacchino (a type of cheese) and rucola sandwich with a flat type of bread. It was very good and very cheap.

For dinner, I ate at Osteria al 15 (Via Mirasole, 13). I wrote about my wonderful meal at Osteria al 15 and posted some mouth-watering photos last week.

Thursday was my last day in Bologna. I went into Tamburini to get some lunch. Tamburini is a very cool gourmet delicatessen. I love walking through this shop looking at all the food. I bought a little plate of greek salad and a little plate of pasta salad. The greek salad was very good, but the pasta was mushy and not so good.

In the afternoon, I trekked over to Pasticceria Laganà (Via S. Stefano,112), a pastry shop Chiocciola recommended that is very well known in Bologna. I wanted to go there to buy some treats for my friends Katia and Guido. Pasticceria Laganà is located on Via Santa Stefano. Note… it is not located near the Santa Stefano church. It is located at the other end of this very long street. It is also closed in the afternoon, which I found out after my very long walk there. Since Laganà was closed, I stopped at a nearby gelateria (which I will talk about in my gelato post) before heading back to my hotel.

I returned to Pasticceria Laganà again in the evening, this time taking the bus to buy my pastries. Chiocciola was right. This pasticceria was amazing! The woman waiting on me was very kind. She helped me choose a few different types of tiny pastries that would not spoil while taking two trains to Coccaglio the following day. She even wrapped them up with a beautiful ribbon.

Then it was time to buy something for myself. There were so many wonderful choices. I had a very difficult time deciding because I wanted one of everything. I finally decided on a zabaglione pastry and a pastry with strawberries and whipped cream. The zabaglione pastry was very delicious and filling. The strawberry and whip cream pastry was even better. It was my favorite. It reminded me of the strawberry shortcake my mom used to make. I ended up eating both pastries before dinner! I was too busy drooling over all of the pastries thought to think about taking any photos.

I was now down to my last meal in Bologna (besides breakfast at my hotel the following morning). I couldn’t decide where to eat. Of course after eating gelato in the afternoon and then eating the two pastries before dinner, I was not very hungry. My grandmother always scolded me when I would eat dessert before dinner. She was right this time.

I walked around checking out a few restaurants I had listed as recommendations but in the end I headed back to Ristorante Teresina. It was my last night in Bologna and I wanted to make sure I would have a fabulous dinner. I knew that I would not be disappointed with the food there. I also knew I would be treated wonderfully at this restaurant. Here's a photo of the nice waiters at Ristorante Teresina.

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I ordered the tortelloni filled with ricotta cheese and spinach with burro e salvia (butter and sage). It was homemade and so delicious. I was much too full to eat anything else. After dinner, I waddled back to my hotel to pack.

I have barely scratched the surface, trying only a few restaurants in Bologna. I really need to go back and spend at least a month there to fully enjoy the delicious food of Bologna.

While planning my trip to Bologna last summer, I printed out the following two restaurant recommendation resources:

Rar's Everything Bologna (scroll down towards the bottom for the food section)

Slow Travel Emilia-Romagna restaurant reviews

February 19, 2009

the food markets in Bologna

The food markets ~ Reason #3 why I love Bologna.

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Continue reading "the food markets in Bologna" »

February 20, 2009

gelato in Bologna

Gelato ~ Reason #4 why I love Bologna.

My first gelateria experience in Bologna was at Gelateria Gianni (Via Montegrappa 11) two years ago. Gelateria Gianni just happens to be located close to the two towers. I went there as a reward after climbing to the top of the Asinelli Tower. I seem to remember ordering peach and coconut but can’t be sure. I do remember sitting outside the gelateria savoring every lick as I recovered from my tower climb. I returned to Gelateria Gianni last year, ordering mela verde and pesca (green apple and peach). I was surprised by how much I liked the green apple gelato.

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My second gelateria experience in Bologna was at Grom (Via d'Azeglio, 13). Grom is located just outside of Piazza Maggiore and was conveniently on the way to my hotel. I stopped there a couple of times during my stay, ordering nocciola and pistacchio (hazelnut and pistachio) both times. YUMMY!! The pistacchio was sooooo good at Grom! Check out this great link for more photos of Grom in Bologna.

My third gelateria experience in Bologna was at La Sorbetteria (Via Castiglione, 44). If Pasticceria Laganà was not closed when I arrived, I might not have gone to La Sorbetteria. After realizing that Pasticceria Laganà was closed, I took out my food notes and map of Bologna, trying to figure out where to go next. I remembered reading that La Sorbetteria was a very famous gelateria in Bologna and realized that this gelateria was not too far away from Pasticceria Laganà. La Sorbetteria was pretty easy to find. It was located halfway between Pasticceria Laganà and my hotel.

When ordering gelato, I usually order the smallest size cone (which comes with two flavors). Since it was my last day in Bologna, I decided to order the medium size cone at La Sorbetteria (which comes with three flavors). I ordered nocciola, pistacchio, and caffè (hazelnut, pistachio, and coffee). The gelato was wonderful!! I had every intention of taking a photo, but the cone cup my gelato came in had a leak in the bottom. It was a hot daynand the gelato was dripping all over the place. I ended up with gelato all over my hands. It was quite a sticky mess.

I have yet to try gelato at:

Stefino - via Galiera 49.

Gelateria delle Moline - via delle Moline 13.

Il Gelatauro - via San Vitale 82.

This gives me three more reasons why I need return to Bologna!

At this point, I can't really choose a favorite gelateria from the three I have tried. In my opinion, Gelateria Gianni, Grom, and La Sorbetteria all serve award winning gelato.

For more info on Gelato in Bologna check out:

Guide to Gelato in Bologna

Everything Bologna (scroll down towards the bottom for the gelato info)

Bologna Gelaterie (in Italian)

August 31, 2009

fish market in Bologna

One of my favorite things to do in Bologna is to hang out watching the action at the fish market. There are actually a few fish markets close by but the photos below are of the one that seems to be the most popular. I was lucky on Friday (my last full day in Bologna) to be able to hang out and take lots of photos. The people working there seemed proud that I was so interested in their fish.

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Continue reading "fish market in Bologna" »

October 31, 2009

"bags"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


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January 2, 2010

"lick"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters


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Flavors ~ nocciola & pistacchio from Cremeria Funivia, a gelateria in Bologna

March 7, 2010

bruschetta al pomodoro

Bruschetta is bread lightly toasted, rubbed with garlic, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Good olive oil is then drizzled onto the toasted bread and often but not always chopped tomatoes will be sprinkled on top. In the Roman dialect, bruscare means roasted over coals. It is pronounced as brusˈketta with a "k" sound and NOT with an "sh" sound.

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YUM!!!

April 3, 2010

"sweet"~ PhotoHunt

PhotoHunters

This was another theme that I had a difficult time getting motivated about. Not really sure why. I have cute, sweet photos of kids, baby ducks, birds, as well as photos of foods that are sweet, but nothing really jumped out at me.

Tonight, after going through my photos one more time, I finally came up with a photo. Last summer, the movie Food, Inc. was shown in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna one night. As I snapped a photo, I just happened to capture the list of sweeteners derived from corn.
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Thirty years ago, I read a book called Sugar Blues. That was the first time I really thought about what was in the food I was eating. Since then, I have tried to eat healthy as much as possible. Although I have gone through spurts when I have fallen back into eating processed foods, for the most part, I have tried to eat a healthy diet.

I thought I was eating well until I saw Food, Inc. This movie profoundly changed the way I now shop and the food I eat. If you haven't seen this movie yet, I would recommend that you check it out. If you are a Netflix member, it is an instant movie.

I am happy to see Jamie Oliver try to make a difference. I love Jamie's message on his Food Revolution website. Here is an excerpt:

"I believe that every child in America has the right to fresh, nutritious school meals, and that every family deserves real, honest, wholesome food. Too many people are being affected by what they eat. It's time for a national revolution. America needs to stand up for better food!"

I am hopeful that Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution will change the way we eat. I am hopeful that someday a cinnamon roll and a few pieces of canned fruit will not be considered a healthy school breakfast. I would like to see the sweeteners in the photo above disappear from our food.

October 9, 2011

yum!

I still need to get back to my Italy trip and hope to one day soon. Meanwhile, sharing a few yummy things I enjoyed while in Italy this summer.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to shave ice & gelato in the food category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

colorado is the previous category.

hawaii: animals is the next category.

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