Vacation Cooking Experiments

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I've been sort of up and down, health-wise, since getting back from vacation, but when I am capable of eating real food, I've been trying to replicate some of the best food I ate in Italy, with quite a bit of success, actually, so have some recipes!

Peanut Butter Banana Cookies - I actually made these before I left, because I was looking for a way to use up some overripe bananas. I took them into work, where they got compliments all around. They're not especially sweet, which made for a good mid-morning snack, I guess.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip - One of my favorite lunches was rather unexpected. I ordered eggplant parmesan, expecting it to be like what you usually get - breaded and fried slices of eggplant, layered with tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese. But this was completely not that, instead all blended together more like a dip and eaten spread on delicious Italian bread. The recipe I found replicates it pretty well, although without the melted mozzarella and parmesan on top (though I have rarely found a meal that cannot be improved with more cheese, so).  

Linguini with Slow-Cooked Zucchini, Basil and Cream - Another very surprising favorite meal, since I typically don't like zucchini. I honestly don't know what made me order it - it was close to the end of the vacation, and I think the rest of the menu was stuff I'd had too much of by that point, so I just wanted to try something different. Also, I hadn't had a bad meal yet, so I sort of assumed that EVERYTHING I ate was going to be good (even chicken liver and cow intestines, yes I ate those things) so why not give it a try? Anyway, the secret, according to NPR, is to cook the zucchini slowly over low heat. Could also be the pancetta, though. Anything tastes better when you put bacon on it. 

Ricciarelli Almond Cookies - We had these cookies in Montalcino and my mom loved them so much, she basically demanded that I find a recipe to make them when we got home. So I did, and I made them for my mom's birthday, and she loved them, so I'm going to call it a success, even though I don't think they came out exactly like the ones we had - those were a little lighter and fluffier, while these came out a bit more dense. 

Peach Bread - This one has nothing to do with Italy. I just stumbled upon the recipe while looking for something else and it looked really good. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a major fail. There was far too much batter for a standard loaf pan, so it overflowed and made a mess of my oven. I didn't even use all five peaches that the recipe called for - I cut them all up, but probably only used about four, and I can't even imagine how much it would've overflowed if I'd put them all in. And even though I left the bread in the oven for 20 minutes longer than I was supposed to, the middle of it was still soggy and undercooked. It's possible it was too wet because my peaches were too ripe, but I ended up throwing out about half of it and just salvaging the fully baked parts as a peach cobbler-y type thing. It still tasted good, but did not look at all presentable, lol.

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