Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tetra-pak Tomato Goodness

I did the classic Headwound (HW) thing last night; I got some great products to try but then came home from work starving, used them quickly then devoured them without taking any snaps. My friends call me a HW as I am forgetful; I did once receive a real headwound (20 stitches worth!) so the name is fitting and I have to admit, I am forgetful!

Hungry and craving something other than falafel (I have overdosed on this lately) I rushed home, pulled out the tomato passata that I was given by the lovely people at RH Amar and quickly chopped up some onions and garlic, browned them lightly in extra virgin olive oil, threw in some of the sauce and loaded it with oregano and basil, added a dash of salt and pepper and added a few chilli flakes for a bit of a spicy note –the final touch was one tiny teaspoon of sugar which made it complete.

The lovely red stuff comes straight from Italy and is apparently the number one selling brand there, which can’t be a bad thing! Need to ask my aunty’s what they use.

I threw the final sauce over some spaghetti for the J-Lo & I to eat. Baby Jacob watched and screamed as we ate; poor kid only gets to eat unsalted mushy stuff and we washed it down with some organic Italian juices I bought at the BBC Good Food Show the past weekend, a yummy prickly pear juice.

I only realised I didn’t take pic when we were putting all of the dishes away but thought I would take a snap of the carton which is going in the fridge for us to have more sauce this weekend. Instead of our spaghetti feast you get a pic of the romantic spaghetti eating moment from the Disney doggy movie Lady & the Tramp – awwwh puppy dog romance.

Thx again to the Cirio peeps. Will try and take pics this weekend when Uncle Duncan comes for dinner.

Friday, November 12, 2010

BBC Good Food Show this weekend!

Winners have all been posted their tickets and here are some of their suggestions as to what they would serve George Clooney if he was coming for pudding:
  • THE WINNER - Jen - she would just cover herself in chocolate and that would be it!
  • Home made apple pie with ice cream - for the little boy in George
  • Zabaglione and AMOURetta biscuits -Alison wants to get to George via his Italian connection
  • Eton Mess - for the Hot Harry in him and Lyn from Hazeldale said she would turn up the heat slowly while cooking it :)
  • Chocolate fingers
  • Chocolate beetroot cake -interesting
  • Baileys infused chocolate cake - Clare was trying to get George a little tipsy !
  • and more....
Thanks for all of your submissions and see you at the show this weekend and to the Birmingham winners have a great time and report back!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do you:
Like playing video games while waiting for dinner?
Like playing video games against your dinner partner?
Like playing Battleship? 
Like seeing what is going on in the kitchen without moving from your seat at the restaurant?
Like changing the lighting above your table to various shades of the rainbow?
Like changing the look of your table to various colors and images? 
Like checking out what to do after dinner via the table computer?
Like to order beers/dinner with the click of a button? Like to never have to speak to a snarky or rude waiter.

Well then go to Inamo in Soho! A must visit as it is so high tech and cool (the oriental fusion food isn't the greatest) but it is such a novelty being there. I highly recommend it and think it is good fun and very futuristic. It is hard to get reservations at this hidden gem on Wardour street so don't expect to just pop in around dinner time, book ahead!

134-136 Wardour Street,
Soho, London,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bitterballen - the croquette-like meatballs which are very popular in the Netherlands. I don't think anyone in the Netherlands actually makes them but instead only eats them at the pub. 
In case you are ambitious and want to impress some Dutch freinds try this recipe out. Thanks to for the recipe. 

3 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 tbsp. very fine minced onion
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chopped parsley, fine
1 1/2 c. finely chopped cooked meat
Bread crumbs
2 egg yolks, beaten with 2 tbsp. water
Fat for frying
Melt butter, stir in flour and add the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, to make a very thick sauce. Add onion, meat, parsley, nutmeg, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Spread mixture on cookie sheet to cool. Shape into small balls (1" to 1 1/2" diameter). Roll in bread crumbs. Dip in egg mixture, making sure they are completely covered. Roll again in bread crumbs. Let them stand for 1 hour until completely dry. Deep fry until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Serve with mustard.

Monday, November 08, 2010

So we were aiming for the Spui Book Market but obviously my attention to detail once again failed me and instead of reading that it was only held on Fridays. We found this out after venturing into town looking for it, to only be told by someone at the Albert Cuyp market that this was the only market open and there were NO books. Ooops!

Oh well the Albert Cuyp market was a great alternative, we had no idea what the book market would be like anyway. The market is a complete feast for the eyes and perfect for people watching; it has everything from food to tacky clothes to furniture imported from Indonesia and China. It is apparently 100 years old and is said to have over 300 vendors.

My favourite part of the market was of course, the food vendors. If my eyes weren't bigger than my stomach I would've eaten much more but instead I just had a giant stroopen wafel for 2 Euros. It was freshly made and tasted AMMMAZING,  it melted in your mouth and is just the best Dutch dessert ever - two wafels hold a soft caramel centre, it doesn't get better than that.

If I had more time in the Netherlands I would've bought a load of fish and cheese and made a big feast, instead we ate bitterballen (deep fried meat and cheese balls) and drank beer at the pub overlooking the canals. Not a bad second option.

Get to the market on your next trip to A'dam (Amsterdam) -Yum!

Location: Albert Cuypstraat (in De Pijp neighborhood)
Open: Year-round, Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Goat's milk - fresh from source

For those lactose intolerant there is goat's milk which is a suitable alternative and tastes just as good. Goat's milk is also the blessed white substance that creates the most delicious ricotta cheese which is used in my ever favourite cannoli. That is why they taste different in Sicily, it is the goat's cheese! Ricotta sold in England doesn't always state if it is made with goat's milk but I think it is usually cow's milk - boo. 

We visited this farm out in the middle of nowhere and got to see an age old style of milking goats using special gates for where the animals needed to stand, these gates were in a stone wall that must've been there for hundreds of years. 
Everything was super ancient and the view from the farm where we took these pics was spectacular. This farm is very hidden, even to the locals, and is situated atop a hill overlooking thousands of acres of vineyards -just beautiful. 

At the farm, we stumbled upon a barn with a hidden secret. It was a church in the 1600s. The inscription on the door said 1641 - how crazy is that?! Jake took some great photos in there of a horse and its baby and we got some great shots of the farmers for the project. I wish I could show you all of the pics but I can't just yet, they must go to publishers first! 

The centuries old practice of shepherding and milking the goats was great to watch and sooo old except for one thing.... the mobile phone rang (!) and the chief milker answered it. It was kinda funny but he went on milking with one hand and chatting away - classic! 

Monday, November 01, 2010

Did you know they come from a tree? I don't think I have ever seen a walnut tree before or even thought about where they came from but saw a walnut tree recently. I now want one in my backyard Santa.

The Latin name, Juglans, derives from Jupiter glans, "Jupiter's acorn": figuratively, a nut fit for a god.

Just some foodie education for the day. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Job: selling watermelon and freshly pressed olive oil by the side of the road in Greece
Name: Santos
Age: 85 

I love watermelon and can't get enough of it in the summer especially while trying to survive the scorching heat of Greece in the summer. We stopped, had some water, ate some watermelon and had a chat with Santos for a little while. 

He spoke perfect Italian as he went to school in Greece when it was under Italian rule. He remembered the change over to Greek power and was a great person to speak to about the history of the region and politics at the time. 

He's a lovely man that told us about all of his grandchildren and his life growing up in the beautiful hills that surrounded his truck - he came here each day to sell the olive oil that was produced by his family nearby and was happily listening to the radio when we arrived. He said he meets people from all around the world each day that stop to take photos of the vista and to eat his watermelon. It's always nice to meet locals and hear their life stories, he had a blessed life and was a very cheeky, happy and enthusiastic man.  After purchasing some olive oil and grapes he washed them for us and even added a few extra sweet sesame seed goodies in our bag. 

Kindness, a smile and great olive oil - lovely things that remind us about our travels in Greece now that the nights are getting shorter and darker and colder. I hope any of you that travel around the island of Rhodes see Santos on your next trip.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

 What pudding would you make for George Clooney? Win, win, win

The lovely foodies at the BBC have given me some tickets to give out to you lovely blob readers – there are two events – one in Birmingham at the gigantic NEC and one in London at Olympia – the London one consists of MasterChef Live & Wine Show which I will be attending. If you are going or win the tickets we can have a taste of some red vino together.

Bring comfy shoes and some cash as am sure you will be tempted to buy some food and drink and for all of you very organised Christmas shoppers you may even tick things off your list. My only advice is to wear light clothing as you are usually hot and exhausted by the end of walking down just one aisle –and come on an empty stomach!

Some great chefs will be there including James Martin at both, while Gordon Ramsay and Rachel Allen will be at the Birmingham show (why are there not more top female chefs?? That’s another blog post) Details are:

• The Wine Show & MasterChef Live at Olympia, London - 14 Nov

• BBC Good Food Show Winter, NEC Birmingham - 28 Nov

How to win?? Send me your reply to this question:

• If the gorgeous and sexy George Clooney were coming to dinner next Friday what would you bake him for pudding/desert?

The most creative responses win two tickets for the Sunday sessions! Just tell me if you prefer London or Birmingham. Email answers to: allthingsdolce @

Be creative foodies!


Cute James Martin cooking with croutons (?)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The lovely almond is found around all over the island of Sicily. Several years ago on my first trip to Sicily, when my uncle peeled the little, green, fuzzy pod and took out the small, white contents, I didn't know what it was. After chewing the soft nut ( it only gets hard when it is dried to be sold) with its fresh and light taste, an almost muted apple one -he told my sis and I that it was an almond! Strange how you never connect what a food item looks like at source or how it grows. On my last trip there I saw a walnut tree which again I was shocked to see as I had no clue how those little round wrinkly forehead-like nuts grew either.

In Sicily, almond trees blossom in February and are usually harvested in July. The island's almonds are used in confections, sweet liqueur and even almond-flavored wines - which are thought to be an aphrodisiac. At weddings when I was younger, there would be chocolate and sugar coated almonds in a bowl for guests to eat and with each thank you gift there were a few sugar coated almonds attached to it too.

These 'confetti' were for good luck and apparently with a little bit of research I found out that it stems from an ancient tradition in Sicily.

The throwing of the almonds at the bride (we didn't throw them at our brides- the priests didn't like that) symbolised a marriage by capture (I guess throwing the almonds were part of the tactics of capture?) Now we use paper confetti, which the priest also doesn't like, or some people are not using this tradition anymore.

On our last journey to the sunny island, the almond was present every day in our food and the trees were always visible along our travels. After Jake excitedly plucked one open that he found on the ground, I ate it as we had not seen any ripe ones since the harvest had just passed. I had some initial reservations about eating it as it was quite dark in color but I quickily ignored it and popped it in my mouth - to my surprise it was rotten and tasted vile! I tried to spit out as much as possible, gracefully of course, and my mouth proceeded to sting for about an hour afterwards (!) I was hoping I wasn't going to have some reaction to the rotten almond like one does to eating the wrong wild mushroom. I survived to tell the tale of course and ate lots of fresh almond cookies to compensate!

At the next Italian wedding I go to I hope they have some almond confetti.