Spring in a bowl

I think it would be very easy for me to sit here and list all my favourite foods I have enjoyed this year and no doubt bore you to tears. No one wants that. However, one of the best foodie tastes I have had this year (and I am putting it right up there with truffles) is the creamy, delicious, succlent, mouth-watering delight called burrata. I was first introduced to it on a pizza at PizzaMan (awesome pizza in Florence). The pizza was thin with a smearing of tomato sauce and mozzarella melted into the crust, then topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, rocket leaves, dollops of burrata and lashings of olive oil: HEAVEN!

Whenever I see it on a menu I order it without a doubt and think there is nothing greater. So when all the delicious spring veggies started popping up in the markets and begging me to buy them, I knew there was a salad I just had to make: spring vegetables seasoned with truffle salt and burrata.

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Fava beans, fresh peas and rocket leaves finished with parsley, truffle salt, burrata and olive oil

I could eat fava beans and fresh peas all Spring long and still want more; however, when they are paired with the creamy goodness of burrata and the peppery leaves of rocket, the taste just ignites your senses and you can’t say no! The only way you could make this even better would be to serve it with grilled asparagus…

Grilled asparagus with shaved parmesan

Grilled asparagus with shaved parmesan

And with that said, this would have to be my most favourite meal this Spring…

 

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A Spring Brunch

The day could not of been more perfect on Sunday just gone. E, Shelly and I had worked out that it was a rare Sunday we were all in town together and so it was quickly decided we should have a brunch. These events seem to work better for us when no great amount of time can change the plan, a day and a half of planning was sufficent.

Shelly announced her backyard should be a perfect destination, I announced I’d just read some great food blogs lately and I was eager to make some new food and E was also up for some spring cooking- the day was planned! At 10am on Sunday morning as the sun was peeking through the clouds Shelly sends a photo of her backyard saying maybe they needed a lawnmower?? E and I on the other hand were throughly excited with the prospect of sitting in a buttery looking yellow field, what do you think? Although, if little miss P (aged 3) had decided to walk off without her big sister then I’m afraid we might have lost her!

The butter field Shelly calls her backyard

The butter field Shelly calls her backyard

Sitting in it felt like something from a period movie. In fact all four kids thought the field an absolute delight and we only saw them when food was brought to the table. Perfect!

Talking of food, I had recently read a delicious post from Italy on my mind about Sicilian cauliflower fritters. Her photos looked beautiful, the flavours sounded wonderful and I thought they would be perfect for a brunch addition. I made them Sunday morning and I have to tell you it was very hard getting them out the door as I LOVED them! A very easy and tasty recipe perfect for brunch, they tasted so good all the kids ate them as well as the adults.

Cauliflower fritters

Cauliflower fritters

Granted my photo isn’t as pretty, however, I was getting myself in the weeds with remaining cooking jobs and needed a quick snap before I forgot.

The second dish I made for brunch was the kids favourite; bean nachos with guacamole. My boys love this dish and as I popped it on the table I soon found out it was a favourite of a few adults too. You can’t really go wrong with kidney beans sauteed in a cumin, paprika, tomato sauce and drenched in melted cheese on crispy corn chips. One of the guests at the brunch was floored to be served nachos in Florence…and yet I didn’t hear any complaints!

bean nachos

Bean nachos

E made a delicious asparagus and orange salad and a divine dish of sauteed poatoes finished with red onions, mini capers and sweet peppers which was an instant hit.

Asparagus salad & serving of the eggs

Asparagus salad & serving of the eggs

It was a feast for all the senses and just in case you were wondering where the eggs were (seeing as it was brunch), Guy made a delicious pot of tomato-poached eggs that never seemed to end. With all the food ready to go and prosecco being poured like water from a tap, I can honetsly say it was an extremely memorable afternoon. A feast for the eyes as much as the stomach.

My third contribution to brunch was inspired from blogger, the seasoned traveler, who posted a delicious looking piece about phyllo cups filled with lemon mascarpone and fresh strawberries. I thought it was the perfect sweet to bring for Sunday brunch, however, as I looked through my cupboards I realised I didn’t have anything to make the phyllo cups in. I then decided to add an Australian touch and serve the lemon mascarpone on mini-scones. Because I didn’t have the yummy crunch of the phyllo I need to ramp up the mascarpone so I made a lemon curd and folded it through so there was an extra kick of tang.

Strawberry and lemon mascarpone scones

Strawberry and lemon mascarpone scones

Lunch was over, the scones were devoured in seconds and we were all sitting back feeling quite fabulous (the tap of bubbles hadn’t stopped yet). It is hard to feel anything but happy when you are sitting in a field of yellow.

Shelly relaxing in her backyard

Shelly relaxing in her backyard

Coffee was offered around about an hour later and the sun was really warming us up so I suggested I’d like an affogato. This was met with a lot of agreement, however, no one had the inclination to get the gelato. A further conversation of our favourite flavours of gelato then got the wheels turning and my darling husband and friend offered to fetch the gelato if someone else made the coffee, this was the end result…

Gelato for the kids

Gelato for the kids

Mascarpone and caffè gelato with a shot of coffee

Mascarpone and caffè gelato with a shot of coffee

I have often said I love our year in Italy and it is gatherings like this that make it so special. We all feel like we are still living in a dream, and for now I am quite happy to keep it that way.

 

 

Per favore, un più?

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Our local

Our favourite/local pasticceria, Cesare is a little ways down the road, a good twenty-minute walk from our place when you’re walking with kids. When I really want to have a break from being in the house I usually try and coax the boys into coming for a walk with me. As you can imagine getting your kids to come on a 40-minute walk (sometimes in the rain) isn’t exactly easy when all they want to do is play. I used to try out all sorts of tricks to get them to come along and then, not too long ago, the pièce-de-résistance came into play.

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It is winter and raining, why are we going for a walk?

I had seen the signs in the pasticceria when we first arrived but thought nothing of them as I had no clue as to what they meant: “bombolini caldi 16:00“. A few months had passed and I started reading a few more words, working out how to say more words and actively looking for words to read.

Guess what bombolini are???

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Bombolini con crema

That’s right- DONUTS!!!!!

And not just any donuts, HOT-out-of-the-fryer-and-into-your-mouth donuts.

Donuts filled with crema AND chocolate

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jam donuts…

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and plain donuts, that are the size of your head!

IMG_0977Not only do these bombolini taste and look superb but they are also chock-a-block full of whatever flavouring you choose and only cost ONE EURO each!!!

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As you bite into the bomboline you instantly feel the warmth of the marmalata, cioccolato or crema oozing into your mouth and down your chin. Children and adults alike all sit at the tables of Cesare with piles of serviettes at the ready because you just can’t help but get excited when 4pm rolls around and you happen to be in the vicinity of this pasticceria.

I know lots of other places serve bombolini and that is fantastic, however, for me this is the place I know and trust when it comes to bombolini freschi and I also know I have a 20-minute walk up hill to get home which means they come GUILT FREE!