100 Foot Journey through a Chef’s Eyes

“Food is memories”, no truer words have ever been spoken. One smell can bring you back in time, put you in a moment. Eating a simple dish can evoke such a strong memory, which is something that we never quickly forget.

This was the thought that I had going through my mind as I sat watching the movie 100 Foot Journey.

The_Hundred_Foot_Journey_(film)_posterSpoiler Alerts Ahead! If you do not want to know about the movie, then stop reading now! If you do want to read about seeing this movie through the perspective of a chef and foodie, then continue on.

It is the story of a young chef Hassan Kadam’s culinary journey from Indian to France. He and his family finally settle in the village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in France. While there his father opens an Indian restaurant. Hassan cooks at his family’s restaurant but then begins to discover a new world of food and French Cooking.

 

Hassan Kadam is a young chef with a gifted palate. Throughout the story Hassan experiences a culinary metamorphosis. In doing so, this movie gives people an insight into what it is like to have a chef’s gastronomic passion in life.

What is most extraordinary is the food. The food, the cooking scenes and eating are as central to the story as the characters. The close ups, the way the scenes are shot, and the food are always front and center.

I know that I was enthralled, and I let out a few audible gasps of delight when the magnanimous shots of breath taking foods filled up the entire movie screen. There were so many foodie type people in the audience, we all shared in our admiration for the food cinematography.

I had one gnawing thought once I left the theater, was this an accurate portrayal of food in the film? Fusion of two distinct and steadfast cuisines are blended, but can it actually happen?

I had a myriad of questions about this movie. So I did what any foodie would do, I went to get answers. I decided to ask a friend of mine for some help on this matter.
I asked a friend who is a chef.

blair@workBlair Hohn III is a classically train chef from the Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts (Pittsburgh). Blair is the chef and Co- Owner of The Salted Pig. He has worked in various places in an around Pittsburgh. He did his apprenticeship at the prestigious Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh and is currently a chef at a private county club near the city.

I have had samples of his food, and it is just simply delicious. He will occasionally bring me some of his homemade fudge as well as Italian sausage. Pork and chocolate, oh my goodness it is so amazing and I love it when we get together.

So I asked Blair to go to the movies with me. I know that he was curious about this because of my incessant food questions since my first time seeing the film. I did bring him some of my homemade anise biscotti as a small bribe and that made him happy.

Afterwards I sat down and hit him with a barrage of question. Blair is passionate about his craft and loves to share his knowledge. He is a kind person who doesn’t mind explaining things to people who are not in the food business or as I like to say “people who don’t speak chef”. Chefs have their own language and acronyms. Blair will explain and share helpful hints but do it in a way that is easy to understand and home cook friendly.

The premise of the movie is that this Hassan infuses his natives spices into traditional French Cooking and reaches the culinary greatness. When I asked Blair about the blending of the 2 cuisines, as it was demonstrated in the movie, he said that “it can be done”.

French Cooking “has been around a long time, it had a very strict rules to be considered classical French Cuisine”. The chef (main character) was “thinking outside of the box, I like to think outside of the box… just because (a style of cooking) it has been done for 200 hundred years doesn’t mean that it is the only way to cook something”.

He added that “this (movie) was written for chefs who have passion…. (Hassan) has passion and knows how to push boundaries and that boundaries sometimes need to be pushed”.

For example the Hollandaise Sauce scene he pointed out to me. The fat that was used was olive oil and in traditional French Cooking it is butter. Blair makes his Hollandaise Sauce with butter but if you “want to think outside the box and use olive oil, then make it that way“.

During the omelet scene Blair let out a guffaw. I questioned him about this afterwards. “It was the banging of the omelet pan that is the way they teach you to do that”. He laughed because he remembers learning that technique in school. He looked at me and then said “that is the right way to make an omelet”.

Hassan possess an extraordinary palate and this is what separates him from other chefs. Hassan has the “gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch”.
I asked Blair if this something you are born with it or is it something you can be taught?

He pondered this for a moment and said “both”. In culinary school “you are taught how to cook and blend spices (for cooking) but that doesn’t make you a chef”.
“Cooking and knowing what goes together, how they blend and taste together though experience (and working)…. that is how you learn and become a chef”.

I gathered through our conversation that you can have an idea about how tastes blend together, and build upon that. Some people are better than others at it and know how to push the boundaries in tastes.

At one point in the movie the main character Hassan Kadam reaches culinary success. He get his Michelin Stars and becomes a chef de cuisine at a premiere restaurant in Paris. I was curious about these elite chefs.

Blair’s first response to me was that “chefs of this caliber, Michelin Star, are like no other, they eat, sleep and drink food, and they are intense”. These stars are about just more than the food, they are about the restaurant as a whole.

He has cooked dishes that are on par with Michelin Star cuisine, however these restaurants comprise only a small segment of where people go to eat. He assures me that when a chef reaches this level it is because they are very good and have a talent, but it is also their whole life.

I asked him what happens if a chef loses a star, he smiled and said that some “don’t take the news so well” and he left it at that.

We finished up and left our separate ways. I believe that I had thoroughly picked his brain and was satisfied with all of the answers.

Did I like the film, absolutely? Will I add this to one my collections of foodie favorites, most definitely? I enjoyed the feel good aspect of the film along the food cinematography. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it with Blair and discussing it with him, I guess I was able to see this through a chef’s eyes. It was an enlightening experience and I will do it again.

If you want to see a fun food themed movie, I highly recommend 100 Foot Journey. It is a chef endorsed and a foodie approved film.

Ciao,
Nicky

blair knivesSome of the knives in the photo that Chef Blair Hohn uses were made by local Pittsburgh knife company Berkhouse Knifeworks.

Italian Heritage Day at Heinz History Center

first appeared on Ciao Pittsburgh on 9/19/14

Please come and join me on Sunday, October 5th at the Heinz History Center. I will be at the Italian Heritage Day at Heinz History Center, and I will have some of my fresh made pizzelle on hand to share.

Hx CenterItalian Heritage Day at the Heinz History Center is a full day of interactive activities designed with K-12 students in mind. In honor of Italian Heritage Month, local community groups and museum staff will facilitate educational activities on every floor of the museum. Activities are conceived in a manner that will allow all members of the family to work together to learn about Italian American history and culture.

Intergenerational participation is encouraged, so bring tua madre, tuo padre, tua nonna, tuo nonno, tua zia, tuo zio, e tutti i tuoi fratelli, sorelle e cugini. Children 17 & under get into the museum for free on Italian Heritage Day, so this is a great way to have the kids involved in this activity.

There are many fun and exciting activities scheduled for this day; learning how to play bocce with Major League Bocce, preparing and taste traditional Italian American foods with Slow Food Pittsburgh, experience Old World Farming with the Italian Garden Project and learning basic Italian vocabulary with La Scuola d’Italia Galileo Galilei.

For a complete list check out the events page at the Heinz History Center.
http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/events.aspx?EventID=441

Besides fun family activities, Italian Heritage Day will also feature an Italian American bazaar in the Mueller Center with vendors, live entertainment, and information tables about local Italian heritage groups.

I will be there with the team members from Ciao Pittsburgh, please come by and visit us. We will be the ones with the delicious pizzelle. Check out the link on Ciao Pittsburgh.

http://www.ciaopittsburgh.com/italian-heritage-day-at-heinz-history-center/#more-2102

Italian Heritage Day is made possible through a generous donation from Mascaro Construction. For questions regarding Italian Heritage Day or the Italian American Program, please contact Melissa Marinaro at 412-454-6426 or memarinaro@heinzhistorycenter.org..

heins logo 14

I Got a Shout Out

I have come to appreciate the value of social media, and tried to embrace all of it despite my efforts to hold on my CD collection and my passion for snail mail.
Twitter is a wonderland for food bloggers, it is a great place to connect and see what is happening. Recipes exchange and food ideas are abound, it is a cornucopia for foodies.

It was through twitter that I came in contact with a talented blogger named Sean at Snack Fixation.

Nicky-D-Cooks-Spicy-Zucchini-Bread-3_4

photo: Sean Weber @snack fixation.com

It was a zucchini bread recipe that caused our paths to cross. I was working on a blog about zucchini bread and Sean asked for my recipe. The thing about Sean is that he had never baked a zucchini bread before, and my spicy zucchini bread was something that he wanted to try.

I emailed him my recipe with careful instructions and helpful hints, I know what it is to read a recipe and not have things explained. I wanted Sean’s first experience to be a good one with baking a bread because there is nothing worse than a failed recipe.

The date was set and Sean was going to make the breads, he emailed me the pictures of his results: SUCCESS! I couldn’t have been happier for him and I was glad to hear that his adventures in baking zucchini bread went well.

Sean blogged about his foray into baking, and the results were this amazing blog post!
http://www.snackfixation.com/nicky-d-cooks-spicy-zucchini-bread/

Thank you Sean for such a great blog and for the kudos.

Aunty Judy’s Zucchini Bread

zucchini breadWhen I first met Judy, I could tell that she was a great person. She welcomed me into her house, offered me something to eat and a cup of coffee. I felt like I was walking into a home of one of my relatives, I was so comfortable yet it was the first time I was meeting her.

Judy is my husband’s aunt. I was at her house for a big 4th of July Party with all of her family. Judy married into a big Italian family. Like a typical Italian gathering, there were so many people and an abundance of food. It was just so impressive to see that many generations of a family gathered in one place.

Judy is a talented cook and baker. I am always impressed with the massive amount of food that comes from her kitchen. If there is a family event at her house, there is always a plethora of hot dishes that comes from her oven. I ask her in jest where does she hide the multiple stoves in order to produce this much food.

She smiles and laughed because Judy is also of Italian descent. Like many Italian woman who have already raised their family, Judy knows how to cook for a large crowd. She is a pro, and has been cooking and baking for many years.

It was at this gathering that I first had her zucchini bread. When I first bit into it, I was completely hooked. I do believe I let out an audible “yum” sound while devouring down my first piece. I told Judy that this was so delicious and it was the first time I had ever eaten zucchini bread.

Yes, I know it is hard to believe that a person could be in their late twenties and have never eaten zucchini bread before.

Judy laughed at my revelation and told me that she would share her family recipe with me. She told me that the recipe “was a simple one and that she has been making this for years”.

Before I left, as promised, Judy had written the recipe down for me. As she hugged me good-by, she told me that “I could call her anytime if I had questions about the zucchini bread recipe”.

fresh-zuccPittsburgh has the perfect environment for zucchini to grow. In the late summer when it is plentiful, I soon put this new recipe into my baking repertoire. My family tended to like a spicy version of this bread, so I played around with this the spice combinations. I like to use cinnamon and nutmeg, however ground cloves and ground ginger work well in this recipe too.

I have been making zucchini bread for many years since receiving the original recipe. It makes a delicious moist bread that is perfect for a snack or breakfast. It is also the prefect recipe for beginning bakers to start off with because it is not complicated.

I have included my recipe for Spicy Zucchini Bread. Here are a few tips that I have learned along the way that I would like to pass along. Make sure that the zucchini is drained before you mix it in the batter, if not it can add extra liquid to the batter and cause your loaf not to bake properly. If you happen to get an extremely large zucchini, I just remove the seeds and use the skins only. The large seeds tend to leave a bitter aftertaste in the bread. I tend to double the batch and freeze the loaves; they really freeze and defrost nicely. They will last for about a month or two in the freezer if they are double wrapped in aluminum foil. Lastly, because I do make so many at a time, I use cake pans to bake the bread in as well as loaf pans. The baking times changes slightly, I just bake it until the center comes out clean on a toothpick.

I hope you enjoy it.
Buon Appetito,
Nicky

Nicky D Cooks Spicy Zucchini Bread

Every time I whip up a loaf or two of zucchini bread, I always think of Aunt Judy and meeting her that day. Now we all can make these breads and bring smiles to my family and friends just like she does.

Ingredients
3 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups zucchini, grated and well- drained.
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
2 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Mix together eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Set aside. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add this to the first mixture. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes. Or until the center springs back when touched (until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean).

The Nomad Cooks

I had the opportunity to review a new cookbook, Healthy Venezuelan Cooking by The Nomad Cook. I was intrigued by this book and this type of cooking. I knew very little about this cuisine, it was something I always wanted to learn about.

The cookbook is easy to follow, and has helpful hints when preparing many of the dishes. The author provides recipes for healthy versions of traditional Venezuelan dishes, many of which are gluten free (low gluten), Paleolithic and vegetarian friendly. I liked that I already owned many of the herbs and spices that were required for many of the dishes. There are variety of recipes listed in the book to choose from to start your journey into Venezuelan cooking. This includes soups, salads, main courses, dips, fillings, sauces and rice dishes.

toms&beef2 (1)I wanted to do something different for this cookbook review so I enlisted the help from my fellow food blogger Terri from the Parmesan Princess. We decided to cook the same recipe from the book, but come up with different ways to serve it. The Ground Beef & Tomatoes recipe would be the perfect choice. I would serve mine as an entrée with rice. Terri is a great baker, she would make the beef and tomatoes and use it as a filling for empanadas.

The date was set. We would cook our dishes, meet up, eat and compare our plates. Honestly it was one of the best experiments with a recipe that I have done, it was really so much fun. I highly recommend doing this.

empanadas1Terri made some phenomenal baked empabeef&rice1nadas! The Ground Beef & Tomatoes encased in the dough were so tasty. The flavors married beautifully, and did not dull in the baking process. They were seriously delicious.

I made the Ground Beef & Tomatoes as a main course, served along some rice pilaf. The beef has a rich and flavorful broth, which went really well with the rice. I served it in a large soup bowl, the broth softened the rice the longer it sat.
It was a scrumptious dish.

Our beef and tomatoes had the same taste, and we agreed that both ways served were equally delicious. It came down to personal preference on which way we would eat the Ground Beef & Tomatoes.

There were some differences in our cooking, but it didn’t seem to alter the taste of the final product. I used dried oregano while Terri used fresh. The type of ground beef mattered. I used an organic 80/20 and I had to drain off some of the excess fat while I was browning the meat, Terri used 93/7 and didn’t encounter this problem. I used the suggested amount of beef broth in the recipe, while Terri used less because she was going to use hers as a filling. We both simmered our beef and tomatoes longer than the recipe suggested, just to help thicken the mixture.

I like the empanadas so that maybe my next adventure with the beef and tomato mixture. It is a great recipe and I am planning on making it again.

This cookbook is a keeper! Healthy Venezuelan Cooking broadened my cooking palate and it something that I will go back to again and again.

Here is the recipe as I made it for the Ground Beef & Tomatoes. I followed the directions exactly, and this dish can easily be doubled.

Ground Beef & Tomatoes adapted from Healthy Venezuelan Cooking                       by The Nomad Cook

1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (organic)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ lb ground beef (grass fed / organic)
1Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tsp ground cumin
Iodized sea salt
1 tsp oregano (dried)
1 organic medium tomato, chopped
¼ c beef broth (organic)
Pinch of tabasco sauce

Rinse the ground beef with water in a colander before cooking. Beef will lose some of its color, turning pinkish. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Lightly brown the ground beef with the onion for 10 mins. Add the Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salt and oregano. Stir to combine and add the tomato beef broth and tabasco. Stir and simmer on medium high until sauce thickens about 15 more minutes.

For more information please visit The Nomad Cook websites here below:

http://thenomadcook.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/NomadCook

A Special Father’s Day Treat, Mondo’s Wine Biscuits

first appeared on Ciao Pittsburgh, June 6, 2014

When I was growing up there was a simple table cookie that I particularly favored. It was ubiquitous and it seemed to appear in all of the bakeries and kitchens that I frequented. It was a plain cookie, not flashy but what could be described as a peasant cookie. What it lacked in appearance it make up for in taste.

I am talking about an Italian American classic, the wine biscuit.wine bis 2 (1)

This is a popular treat in the Italian American communities in New England, especially in my home state of Rhode Island. There are many variations of this cookie, but the main component to this treat is wine. Some recipes will use white, some reds, or blends. I have a preference for the use of the red wines because it will yield a beautiful purple hue to this cookie with a spectacular taste.

A few people I know will also use their own homemade wine in these cookies. That is a special treat, and I do enjoy getting a hold of those rare cookies.

For many years I tried to make the recipe that was given to me by my grandmother. The wine biscuits were passable, but I was truly never happy with them. Then a friend of mine Lisa Starnino Mallinson was talking about making them and was happy to share her recipe with me.

Lisa is a childhood friend of mine and she just happens to be a fellow foodie. Lisa and I went to the same elementary school and grew up in the same neighborhood. We shared the similar lifestyles of growing up in an Italian American home.

Lisa’s wine biscuits are delicious, they are the perfect combination of sweet from the sugar and mild bite from the wine. They are the perfect accompaniment with a cup of coffee for breakfast, or tea for an afternoon treat.

She learned to make these “about 20 years ago from her grandmother on her mom’s side” and she has been making these wonderful treats for family and friends ever since. There was one particular person who adored her wine biscuits, it was her dad Armando Starnino.

Lisa and her Dad, Mondo

Lisa and her Dad, Mondo

Mondo as he was called, liked the other dishes that his daughter made but it was the wine biscuits that were his favorites. Lisa told me that when she was still living at home her “dad’s face would light up when I would make them ….and he would eat them as fast as they came out of the oven”.

Mondo was born in Providence, RI and grew up in Federal Hill which is the Little Italy section of the city of Providence. He grew up surrounded by good Italian food. Lisa said that her dad liked other Italian delicacies however, it was her homemade wine biscuits that he liked the most. Lisa continued to make these treats for her dad long after she was married and had a family of her own.

I must admit that every time I make the wine biscuits I think of Lisa and her dad, and that makes me happy. My children do light up when they walk into my kitchen and see that one of their favorite treats are coming fresh out of the oven. I guess there must be a little bit of Mondo in all of us because seeing freshly made wine biscuits makes us all smile brightly.

Lisa was kind enough to share her family’s recipe with us. I highly recommend that you give this a try. You don’t need to be an advanced baker to do this. It is a very forgiving recipe and perfect for beginners who want to try out a new type of cookie recipe.

The recipe calls for using a red wine, feel free to use your favorite brand or blend. I grantee you will be so happy you made these cookies, they will change the way you think about using wine in your baking. You will definitely have all of your family and friends lighting up with delight when you give them one of these tasty treats.
I hope that you enjoy it.

Buon Appetito,

Nicky

Lisa’s Homemade Italian Wine Biscuits by Lisa Starnino Mallinson
In memory of her Dad Mondo Starnino

Ingredients:

4 cups flours
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
1 full cup of Fortissimo Red Wine

Mix ingredients well. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes on bottom rack of oven 6 minutes on top rack. Don’t forget to brush top of biscuits with egg.

Note- the shape of these wine biscuits can be varied, some can be rolled onto ball shapes and baked others rolled out and braided then baked. Here is a simple way to roll out to get a ring shaped cookie; roll out dough 3-4” long rope pieces then press the ends together to make a ring. Put them on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp.
Cooking times will vary for each oven, so keep the cookies in longer until the bottoms are golden brown, and be careful they don’t burn

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: Matteo’s in Lawrenceville

I finally decided that I wanted to participate in Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (PRW). So with my fellow food blogger friend Terri Dowd, we headed to Matteo’s in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. The restaurant features mainly Italian cuisine as well as serves seafood and steak.

We were intrigued by the PRW menu, we studied it and were excited by what was offered. Terri and I are both of Italian heritage and going out for Italian food is not something we do. We were hungry for PRW meal, we were ready to eat at Matteo’s.
With the help of social media we tweeted at Matteo’s that we coming in for diner. To our surprise, the restaurant replied to our tweets.

chefmatt

(from L.), Nicky D., Chef Matt Cavanaugh, Terri Dowd

When we arrived and placed our drink order, we told our very friendly waitress about our tweeting experience and that we were here for Restaurant week. To our surprise, the chef Matt Cavanaugh came out to meet us and say hi. For a couple of foodies, this was beyond cool. We asked him for his personal recommendations and based our menus selections on that.

We ordered from the PRW menu, so Terri and I ordered different dishes so we could share and sample a variety of foods.

All of the food was delicious. We sampled so many dishes, so I am just going to list my favorites of the evening.

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Beans & Greens

The Beans and Greens- it was a blend of greens with some banana peppers, onions, beans and Italian sausage. This appetizer has some delicious heat to it and has the most beautiful broth. The grated Italian cheese that garnishes the tops adds the perfect salty flavor to this dish.

Chipotle Lime Mussels- Mussels cooked with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, lime juice and garlic. Honestly what is not to love about this dish? The mussels were cooked perfectly in a slightly spiced sauce. There was nice blend of spice yet it was not over powering, it was a sublime dish. I ate far too many of these little gems, but honestly they were so good.

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Porcini Capelletti

Porcini Capelletti- this amazing pasta dish was mind blowing. The pasta was in a delicate butter sauce and on a bed on baby spinach and topped with sun-dried tomatoes. There were plenty of mushrooms throughout this dish, yet the flavor didn’t overpower the pasta. Great and favorable dish.

Chicken Saltimbocca –Pieces of tender chicken in a brown Marsala sauce. Oh my goodness, this was so delicious. The sauce was light tasting and complimented the chicken. It was cooked perfectly. I wanted to take the bread at the table to mop up the sauce on my plate, but I was dining in public and I thought better of it.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Tiramisu- This dessert was a perfect ending to this feast. Yes we managed to eat to share a piece of this delicious dessert, it came recommended by the chef. When he told us that his wife makes all of these desserts, how could we say no? It was great tasting and was not overly sweet. There was no better way to end this meal.

I was glad I finally made it to Pittsburgh Restaurant Week and looking forward to the next one.  I was oh so happy that I went to Matteo’s, I will definitely be back!!!!

Matteo’s
3615 Butler Street, Lawrenceville
Check out Matteo’s at http://www.matteospgh.com

Here is the Pittsburgh Restaurant Week link http://pittsburghrestaurantweek.com

Matteo's on Urbanspoon

 

 

Ricotta Cheese: A New Twist on an Old Favorite

ricotta3 (3)first appeared on Ciao Pittsburgh on 5/ 23/14

When I think of ricotta cheese, I have fond memories of my childhood. I would see it used in various dishes and desserts that we ate. I can remember sneaking a few forbidden mouthfuls of this delicious delight from the colorful containers. I just loved the creamy texture and the pure taste of it. Ricotta cheese is something that I enjoy to this very day.

I remember hearing about people in the family who would use ricotta cheese on bread, kind of the way butter would be used. I always preferred the spoon out of the container method, but it was something that stuck with me. As I got older, I did notice that some restaurants would use a “ricotta-like” spreads on sandwiches. I had not encountered a place that offered the unadulterated cheese as a sandwich option. I still had not seen a restaurant that gave ricotta cheese out with the bread baskets at the start of dinner, but I know it existed because I had heard murmurs of this occurring.

I realized that people were soon making their own ricotta cheese, and this is on my list of things to try. I have had really good homemade ricotta cheese and I must tell you it is out of this world. There are a few commercial brands that I favor, but if I can get the homemade kind I will go with the latter.

I like the small curd and the creamy taste of the homemade kind, so I realized that this must be the reason people are putting it on bread. So I knew that I just had to try it. I will tell you that it is truly amazing and I can see why this is done. The combination of the Italian bread with its softened center and crusty exterior joined with the delicate taste of this mild creamy cheese, it is an absolute peasant delight.

I wanted to see what I could add to this bread and cheese platform without altering the pure and basic flavors that made it so wonderful. I soon realized that this would become the base for many different concoctions. I could change this into a sweet or savory treat, I like how easily this worked with many kitchen staples.

By adding cinnamon and sugar, or seasonal fresh fruit and honey it became breakfast treat or a dessert. Adding good olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper (or crushed red pepper) to a piece of bread with ricotta cheese, it becomes a great snack or the perfect light lunch. Adding a layer of sliced tomato, fresh basil and olive oil, it becomes the perfect warm weather meal. Serve it as part of an antipasto platter with a mix of other hard cheeses and cured meats, it becomes the perfect dish to serve as an appetizer.

The possibilities are endless of what you can do with ricotta cheese and bread. You are only limited by your imagination and tastes.

Ricotta cheese will continue to be one of my favorite cheeses to eat. I like to eat it on a good piece of bread. Try using it on toasted or grilled bread, you will definitely begin to think of a new way to dress your carbohydrate group.

Ricotta cheese is still great for baked ziti, stuffed shells and cannoli, however this simply marvelous peasant cheese can stand on its own and be used in recipes other than the classic Italian American dishes.

I am sharing my recipricotta4e for my Tomato & Basil Ricotta Bruschetta. This is a very forgiving recipe, use whatever brand of ricotta cheese you like. Make sure that the tomatoes are ripe and use your favorite type. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, play around with it and have fun.

 

I hope you enjoy it.

Buon Appetito,
Nicky

Nicky D Cooks Tomato & Basil Ricotta Bruschetta
Ingredients:
Ripe Tomatoes
Fresh basil
Ricotta Cheese (about 1 ½ c)
Loaf Italian bread (baguette style), thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:
Thinly slice the tomatoes and lightly season with salt and pepper. Set them on a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture.

Spread a dollop of ricotta on each piece of bread. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle a little of olive oil. Next place a slice of tomato on the bread and a basil leaf or two. If you want, add a splash of Balsamic vinegar here.

Serve immediately.

A side note-the bread can also be toasted in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned, this adds a nice texture to the bread.

Nicky D Cooks is the owner and operator of Nicky D Cooks Authentic Handcrafted Italian Biscotti and Pizzelle.

Follow her on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/nickydcooks

Her website can be found at http://www.nickydcooks.com.

Also, check out her Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/nicky.d.cooks for more information and great recipes.