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Gremolata is used in Italian cuisine as a garnish for Ossobuco alla Milanese. I also like to use it to garnish salads and my favorite; to season my Gremolata Capellini.  Believe me when I tell you the combination of tastes just burst in your mouth!

Last Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day.  In honor of this occasion, we had a family gathering at my house.  The afternoon started sipping Champagne Rosé and snacking on crackers with bleu cheese and raspberry jam. For a late lunch/early dinner, my mother made her famous Shrimp with Vegetables in Pink Sauce as an appetizer and I made Ossobuco (recipe coming soon) with Gremolata and Risotto Milanese for our guests.  For dessert, I served Vanilla Flan as well as Strawberry-Cheese Flan my brother Manolo and his fiancé Janitza brought. We had a full house and a wonderful time! My brother Joaco helped in the stirring of the risotto which took a while because we made a huge batch for our group of almost 20 persons which included members from both sides of the family.

Of course, Mother’s Day is everyday, but let us embrace this holiday as a friendly reminder to be thankful and respectful of all the mothers and/or mother-like women in our lives who take care of the dirty little behind-the-scenes details that make our lives better each day. It is a day to honor and recognize their courage and sacrifice because we all know life is complicated and sometimes just not fair. So,  I am proud to say that last Sunday in my house, we had 3 generations of outstanding mothers from which I have learned the meaning of love, compassion, determination and respect. I am very grateful to count these blessings…  Thank you Mami!

Enjoy!

Gremolata

Ingredients

1 tbsp yellow lemon peel, grated

1 tsp chopped garlic

3 tbsp chopped italian parsley (flat leaf)

Procedure

1.  Grate lemon zest (be careful not to get any of the white pith of the lemon). Mix together in a bowl. Use to garnish Ossobuco, salads or or flavor pasta. You may refrigerate up to one week.

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A few months ago, we travelled to Orlando, Florida to attend a tradeshow related to my husband’s business.  My brother and sister in law who live in South Florida, Mandy and Frances, met us there.  One afternoon, Frances and I took a break from the show to go shopping in Orlando’s world famous outlet malls as well as browse at upscale shops.  One of our stops was at The Mall at Millenia where we got hungry, so we went to a California Pizza Kitchen Restaurant for lunch.  We shared a white bean hummus as appetizer topped with tomatoes and flat bread and a pizza with mozzarella, fontina and gorgonzola cheeses, thinly sliced pears, caramelized onions, hazelnuts and baby greens (something to try with my bbq homemade pizza recipe with a little white truffle oil of course!).  It was delicious! I had tried white bean hummus before at other restaurants like Cien Vinos in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico and often made traditional chickpea hummus at home.  This variation, is a great appetizer or light lunch. In the months following our trip, I started experimenting with recipes and quantities to make the white bean hummus at home and here is the outcome.  So far, I’ve had great reviews from family and friends!  I want to hear your comments and suggestions.

Enjoy!

Tips:  Before juicing the lemon, grate the lemon zest and use it to make Nieves’ Lemon Bread.  Also, sometimes the solids and oil in tahini (ground hulled sesame seeds) separate, so make sure they are fully incorporated to form a paste by mixing with a spoon before adding to the recipe.


Tuscan White Bean Hummus

Ingredients

white bean hummus

30 ounces canned Cannellini Beans or Alubias (drained)

1/4 cup tahini

6 cloves of garlic peeled (8 if you like it extra garlicky)

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 yellow lemon approximately)

tomato topping

2 roma tomatoes cubed

1 tbsp fresh basil coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

pepper to taste

pita bread or pita chips

Procedure

1. Place all hummus ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop ingredients roughly. Then turn on for about 2 minutes until smooth paste is formed. You may add a bit of cold water if you want to reach a smoother consistency.

2.  Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients of the tomato topping in a bowl.

3.  To serve, spoon and spread white bean hummus in a serving plate and top with tomato mixture.  Serve with pita bread, flat bread or pita chips.

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Our trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado last winter was a great success!  Even though our planes were delayed and cancelled on our departure date and our son had a snowboarding accident on the first day of skiing, we had a wonderful vacation.  As always, the first day was dedicated to grocery shopping, getting to know the village, organizing luggage and clothing, getting the kids to calm down about their excitement of being in a place with snow and having the ski equipment fitted to each person. We are very grateful to our travel advisor, Beatriz Martinez from Ski a la Carte, that she suggested Venture Sports delivery service.  They were on time and very patient with our group of eight, visited us at our apartment and did all the fittings in the comfort of our living room.  The two bedroom apartment that we rented along with the Fuertes family in Centennial Lodge was amazing! Big kitchen, porch with a view, cozy chimney, two large bedrooms, three full bathrooms, sofa bed, ski storage, daily cleaning service, complimentary breakfast and walking distance to the slopes.

My parents took me skiing for the first time when I was 9 years old to Sugarbush, Vermont and I have loved the sport ever since. The Beaver Creek Mountain was well groomed and not crowded at all. It was fun for the whole family.  Our five-year old daughter is a natural skier and fearless little girl.  She went down the mountain like a pro! Very proud of her.

Most of the nights we stayed in and my husband and I cooked for the whole crew.  We made risotto, veal saltimbocca, mustard chicken, salads, roasted vegetables, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, tortilla española, arancini, pasta with shrimp, new york steaks and jasmine rice with vegetables among others. Sometimes for lunch, we would go back to the apartment for left overs or pizza.  Other days, we went to 8100 Bar at the Park Hyatt Hotel where I tried a delicious selection of cheeses.  My favorites were the Sno Drop , with a creamy texture and mild taste and the Bleu cheese paired with a homemade strawberry jam, a blend of flavors that explode in your mouth. I also tried the mushroom soup which was delicious and mini-pizzas with goat cheese, chicken and bbq sauce.  The kids had beef sliders with homemade french fries, homemade ketchup and garlic mayo,  Yummy! The kids also loved making smores at the fire pit in front of the Hyatt where everyday at 4 pm they had a complimentary selection of marshmallows, chocolates and graham crackers for everyone to enjoy.

One night, we had dinner at Beaver Creek Chophouse.  I ordered shrimp with polenta as the main dish but what I liked the most was my appetizer; pommes frites with white truffle oil and parsley. The combination of flavors was amazing!!!  So earthy and aromatic. The chocolate cake was delicious too. Also,the kids had a blast with the in-house illusionist.  Another highlight of the vacation was having dinner at Beano’s Cabin.  It is a 15 minute freezing cold ride to get there in their big sleigh pulled by a huge snow plow half way up the mountain, but once you get there you feel right at home.  It has such a cozy and warm atmosphere with live 70’s american music (Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, James Taylor, etc.).  We made reservations for an early dinner (5:30pm)  because the later seating doubles in price. Our whole experience was delightful.  In the menu selection they had buffalo, elk, pheasant, scallops, blue nose bass, antelope, sweet potato gnocchi, saffron mashed potatoes, so it was not your traditional selection in a restaurant menu.  Of course, for the kids they had fruit salad, beef skewers, pizza, chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and brownie a la mode.  I loved the open kitchen, chimney and the service was superb.  Another night, the Barbosa’s and Lockwood’s where kind enough to invite us over for dinner and had a great time playing cards with the “girls”.  In addition, another evening, the Cortés family delighted us with their company at our apartment and had a blast watching America’s Funniest Videos with the kids. Blue Moose Pizza was one of the places we went for lunch.  The Chupacabra pizza, with mushrooms, goat cheese, mozzarella , red onions and white truffle oil was out of this world. We also enjoyed the traditional cheese and pepperoni pizza.

Regarding “extracurricular” activities, we went snowmobile riding with Nova Guides. Our tour was at 8 am and it was great because our group was the only one there.  It was a chance for our family to enjoy nature and the views of the Vail Mountain Back Bowls were breathtaking. Our guide Chacha, took us from 8,000 to 10,500 feet above sea level. We took a break at a community log cabin in the middle of the national park and had hot chocolate and apple spiced drinks.  That afternoon we went to Vail to the Adventure Ridge Park with the Sánchez Family where we went tubing with the kids.  This was so much fun! I though this park was only for the kids, but the adults get a kick out of it too!  Thankfully, our return to Puerto Rico was smooth and simple. Happy to go home with wonderful new memories and new hopes for 2010.

Ever since we arrived back home a few months ago, I have not been able to get enough of this recipe and everyone that tries it becomes a fan. There’s nothing like homemade french fries and the white truffle oil makes them absolutely unsurpassable.  White truffle oil is expensive but worth it.  I also use it to drizzle a small quantity over my white bean cream soup and salads. So, here is my version of Natural French Fries with White Truffle Oil. Enjoy!

Natural French Fries with White Truffle Oil

Ingredients

2 large potatoes cut lengthwise (long and thin)

canola or peanut oil for frying

2 tbsp fresh parsley

2 cloves of garlic (mashed) optional

3 generous pinches fleur de sel or kosher salt (one for garlic mash and two for sprinkling over fried potatoes)

drizzle of white truffle oil

Procedure



1.  Wash potatoes and cut lengthwise.  Place in a bowl with salt and water.  This will take some of the starch out so that they don’t stick too much during frying and become crispier.

2.  Pour  canola or peanut oil in medium-large heavy bottom saucepan (enough to cover potato sticks). Heat in med-hi.

3.  Once the oil is very hot, drain potatoes, tap them dry with paper towel and begin to fry.

4.  Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle, mash garlic with dash of salt.  Add finely chopped parsley and mix with a spoon.

5.  Once french fries are golden brown remove from pan and drain excess oil by placing them in paper towel for a few minutes.

6.  Transfer french fries to a bowl or large plate sprinkle evenly with parsley-garlic mixture, salt and white truffle oil.  Serve immediately.

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I love pasta!  Capellini is very thin spaghetti sometimes called angel hair pasta.  My favorite way to make it is short and simple; with olive oil, tomato, garlic and basil. Fresh, light and satisfying!  May be served as a side dish or as a light meal.  I also like to serve it cold from the fridge with salad. Yum!

Buon Appetito!

Capellini with tomato, garlic and basil

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound capellini (8 oz.)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

2 roma tomatoes (diced)

about 6 fresh basil leaves chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

1.  In a medium sauce pan, bring water (about 6 cups) to a boil.  Add generous pinch of salt  and olive oil and start cooking capellini according to package instructions.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat extra virgin olive oil (medium heat) and add minced garlic.  Saute for about 2 minutes (do not  brown).

3.  Add tomato, basil and salt and pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.

4.  Turn off the heat. Add drained capellini to saute pan and stir until well mixed. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

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Savory, simple and wholesome side dish.  I make these potatoes a lot because they are so easy and taste so good.  It is a quick-fix option to accompany a weekday main dish and should be in every busy moms’ recipe book as an alternative to serve their families something fresh and delicious with little effort.  Believe me you will get hooked on these potatoes!  I use fresh rosemary from my herb garden, but you may also use dried.  Also, my favorites for this dish are yukon gold potatoes, but you can use russet potatoes as a substitute.

Enjoy!

Oven roasted rosemary-garlic potatoes

Ingredients

4 yukon gold potatoes peeled and cubed

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp loosely packed fresh rosemary

1 tbsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

Procedure

1.  Pre-heat oven at 375º f.  Peel potatoes and cut into approximately 1×1 inch cubes.

2.  Place potatoes in a large bowl and season with the remaining of ingredients.   Mix well with a spoon.

3.  Pour potato mix in a jelly roll pan and spread evenly.

4.  Roast in oven for approximately 45 minutes. Every oven is different, so if the potatoes have not reached the desired color, put it on broil for a few minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes, stir and serve.

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