Tuesday, October 30, 2007

That's NOT excessive

chocolate


I was at Eurochocolate for 3 days so considering all things and how much I COULD have bought, I thought I was quite restrained.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #106

Pille from Nami-Nami is our lovely host for this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and I'll be revisiting a favourite ingredient - Zucchini Flowers


Zucchini Flowers

These are male zucchini flowers as they have a stem rather than a baby zucchini attached to the flower.

For those that grow zucchini I have read that picking the flowers will not affect the crop size so you can pick the female flowers without sacrificing a full sized zucchini - the plant will just keep producing flowers.

zucchini flower

From experience I have found that female flowers are much easier to stuff than males - the flower is more elastic whereas the male is rather tight and tends to rip unless you are extremely careful.

Male flowers tend to be used in dishes such as the one I will be making - a Frittata.

Frittata

Zucchini Flower Frittata

Male Zucchini Flowers
2 eggs, whisked lightly with a little salt and pepper
1 red onion, finely sliced

I've discarded the stem and stamen from the flowers and have just used the flower itself in this recipe.

Place a little oil and butter in a skillet over a medium heat and when the butter has melted add the onions and sauté until softened and coloured.

Add the prepared flowers along with a little more butter and toss through, allowing them to soften slightly before adding the beaten eggs.

When the base has coloured and the top is almost dry you could place it until a grill to finish. Has I only have a cook top, I had to flip it over in the pan to complete the cooking.

When both sides are browned, slide it out onto a serving dish and enjoy.

frittata

I decided to do one more thing and serve it up as I've seen it done here, as a filling for panini

frittata panini

Believe me, it tasted even better than it looked!


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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #35

For this weeks Presto Pasta Night I've once again raided the pasta shop at the market and got hold of some fresh Orecchiette.

Orecchiette

This seems like the perfect opportunity to try that classic Puglian pairing of Orecchiette and Cime di Rapa - although this is my version and shouldn't be mistaken for the original.

Cime di Rapa

Cime di Rapa go by many names Broccoletti, Broccoli Rabe, Raab, Rappi and Rapini though they refer to the same thing, a green spiky leaf with small broccoli florets.

When buying these Cime di Rapa I made use of a very important lesson I've learnt in life - always do what little old Italian ladies tell you. I had only wanted one bunch but she was very certain that one would not be enough as once you strip the leaves and boil it up there's nothing left. I did my best to resist but I soon relented.

In this version I've added a little onion and prosciutto cubes just to give the dish a bit more substance and stuck with the southern influence and used finely grated Pecorino.

Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa

Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa/Orecchiette with Cime di Rapa

Orecchiette
Cime di Rapa, leaves stripped and stems discarded
1 onions, finely sliced
smalls cubes of Prosciutto
salt and freshly ground pepper
finely grated Pecorino

Parboil the Cime di Rapa to reduce their volume, drain and squeeze well to release all the water and set aside.

Place a little oil and butter into a skillet over a medium heat and when the butter has melted add the prosciutto cubes.

Cook until the cubes have coloured, reduce the heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring regularly until the onion has softened and started to colour.

When boiling the Orecchiette, add the Cime di Rapa to the pot to finish their cooking. When done, drain and add to the skillet along with a small handful of grated Pecorino.

Cook over a high heat, stirring constantly to allow the flavours to amalgamate - season with a little salt and pepper if desired, it will depend on the spice level of the Prosciutto.

Serve onto a plate with another generous sprinkling of the grated Pecorino.

Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

International Year of the Potato 2008

With my obvious love of potato I suppose it's of no surprise that I would make mention of the International Year of the Potato. I do however have an ulterior motive as a few months back I was contacted and asked if one of potato shots could be used in the official website. After some thought I did eventually agree.

I hadn't really thought much about it until Paalo saw mention of the website in the papers back home and he went and checked and sure enough, there is my kipfler potato.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sugar High Friday #36

Andrew from Spittoon Extra is the host for this edition of Sugar High Friday and selected the theme of drunken apples.

Mela-apple© by haalo


Taking into consideration the certain limitations of this kitchen, I had to think of something that didn't need an oven and I came up with a twist on Tiramisu

The alcohol I've selected is Vin Santo

Vin Santo© by haalo


Vin Santo is a Tuscan dessert wine and quite fitting that I use it since I am in Florence. I've decided to poach apples pieces in a mix of wine and a little sugar. I moisten the savoiardi with this chunky apple mixture and then top it with a whipped vanilla scented mascarpone before repeating the layers one more time.

Tiramimela© by haalo


Tirami-mela

Apples, peeled and cut into chunks
Vin Santo
Sugar
Savoiardi
Vanilla Extract
Mascarpone

Place the apple pieces, Vin Santo and a little sugar into a saucepan and simmer on a gentle heat until the apples have softened. Let this cool before you use it.

Lightly whip the mascarpone with a little vanilla extract and set aside.

Since I've made this in glasses, I've broken the savoiardi into small pieces and placed them on the bottom. Drizzle over some of the apple liquid and then top with the softened apples. Add a good dollop of mascarpone before repeating the layering process.

Let it chill in the fridge before serving.

tiramimela© by haalo

Sunday, October 21, 2007

High Tech Studio

I do get a lot of email about my photography and the set-up I use and even though I'm here in Italy my studio has come with me and I thought this would be a good opportunity to share it with you all.

studio setuup

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Prosciutto e Melone

After last week's gigantic 2 year celebration, Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook is our host to help kick off the third year.

I thought I'd take a more relaxed approach this week and have a look at Cantaloupe

cantaloupe© by haalo

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cappellaci with Sage Burnt Butter Sauce

For this weeks Presto Pasta Night I'll be using a type of giant pasta - these freshly made Ricotta and Spinach stuffed Cappellaci.

cappellaci© by haalo cappellaci© by haalo


With such a substantial pasta you really want to have a simple sauce and I thought nothing would be a better made then a Burnt Butter and Sage sauce.

cappellaci with sage burnt butter sauce© by haalo


Cappellaci with Sage Burnt Butter Sauce

Cappellaci
good butter
fresh sage leaves

I'm fortunate enough to be able to use Italian butter for this recipe

italian butter© by haalo


and it always strikes me just how white this butter is and it has an almost sweet taste to it.

italian butter© by haalo


When choosing your sage leaves, try to use a variety of sizes, some small, some medium sized but leave the extra large leaves for other uses.

sage© by haalo


To make the sauce couldn't be easier - you do need to use a generous amount of butter. Place the butter and the sage leaves into a skillet and allow to melt under a gentle heat. If you do it correctly you'll find the sage leaves will actually crisp up by the time the butter starts to brown and will have also infused its flavour into the sauce.

As soon as it has reached that nut brown stage, remove it from the heat. Place the cooked and drained cappellaci into the pan and give it a little shake, turning the cappellaci over once or twice.

Place onto a serving dish, drizzling over a little more sauce and the sage leaves.

cappellaci with sage burnt butter sauce© by haalo

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Acacia Honey - Miele di Acacia

It's been taunting me.

acacia honey

Jars of Acacia honey - everywhere I would look, they were there. Turin Market, Slow Cheese, Eataly, not to mention all the countless numbers of little grocers that would have them alluringly displayed in their windows. As Paalo would remind me as I eyed each jar, "You can buy it in Florence."

Now settled in Florence with the apartment I was able to indulge and indeed it was one of my first purchases.

acacia honey

Seriously how can anyone resist it - lined up against the other varieties, it's positively luminous.

bread

Now with such a special honey I needed a good bread and this was easily found at the baker at the Market.

bread

Something with a good solid crust but with a spongy texture on the inside.

bread

With these two simple ingredients you need nothing else.

bread and honey

Drizzled generously, you can taste the clean sweetness of the honey with its hints of vanilla and enjoy its rich floral scent.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #104

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It's the huge 2 years celebration for Weekend Herb Blogging and Kalyn has asked that we do something a little different - we're to post a recipe that has at least one vegetable and herb and to also vote for our favourite herb and vegetable.

I thought I'd take a subtle approach in regard to my favourite vegetable

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Okay, so I need to work on my idea of subtlety but my enthusiasm is certainly understandable when you feast an eye on just a few of these potato-centric dishes I've made on this blog

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For its sheer versatility, you're able to boil, steam, bake, braise, bbq, stew, mash, roast and sauté, turn it into pasta and even make the most scrumptious potato and chocolate cake. The range of species makes sure there's a potato to suit every need and it even comes in colours!

So yes, my vote for favourite vegetable must go to that ever humble spud.

Naturally the recipe I'll be making uses potatoes and since I don't have an oven I had to make something I could do on the stove top.

One of the herbs that just loves potato is rosemary.

rosemary

With these two ingredients and some garlic cloves I'm able to make pan roasted potatoes, just like my mother makes and probably how she made them here in Italy.

pan roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic

Pan-roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Potatoes
fresh rosemary sprigs
garlic cloves, unskinned
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For this dish I've used these Italian Yellow Potatoes

potato

peel them and then cut them into even sized chunks.

potato and garlic

Combine with the unpeeled garlic cloves, a grinding of salt and black pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil to coat and toss well.

Heat up a skillet and add a little more oil in the pan along with the sprigs of rosemary and under a gentle heat bring it up to temperature - the rosemary should start to sizzle.

Add the potatoes, tossing them through the oil and rosemary and allow them the colour on one side before tossing it again. If they are browning too quickly, then turn down the heat and deglaze the pan with a little white wine - place a lid on the skillet and let them steam.

The time taken will depend on how large you've cut them - these took around 20 minutes to make. The end product should be soft on the inside with a nice crispy crust on the outside.

pan roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic

You'll also find that the garlic cloves will have softened nicely during this time and can squeezed out of their skins - this is especially good if serving the potatoes with a meat dish.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #103 - Recap

We're one week away from celebrating Weekend Herb Blogging's second birthday and this week we have a feast on display. There's no wonder that WHB is still going on strong when you see the diversity displayed in these fantastic posts from all over the world.

Congrats to all that have returned to take part and welcome to all those that have joined us for the first time.

Without further ado, onto the smorgasbord of delights

First up is Anna from Anna's Cook Finds and she is celebrating fall with her autumnal coloured Bell Peppers and creating a comforting stir fry that has every (pumpkin) head turning to admire.

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Ashley from Delish prepares a perfectly delish Prosciutto and Argula Pizza - the inspiration came from one she had during her travels to Singapore. After cooking a simple tomato and cheese based pizza, Ashley lays rocket and then prosciutto on top of the warm pizza/

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This is Valerie's first entry into Weekend Herb Blogging and her blog is called More than Burnt Toast. She uses the often forgotten parsley in her dreamy dish of Walnut crusted Cod with Parsnip sauce. Let's hope Valerie joins us for many more WHB's to come.

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Peter from Kalfoagas - Pursuit of Delish Food, is continuing his series of Greek offerings to WHB with tradition one-pot classic using Fasolakia or Runner beans. He creates Fasolakia with Veal - with one look at the photo you'll know that the veal will be meltingly soft.

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Helene from Neues aus der Küche/News from the Kitchen appeals to my mushroom love and prefers a terrific dish using Trumpet Mushrooms. Helene's Trumpet Mushroom with Tomato Sauce and Arugla is a gentle simmer of trumpet mushrooms and cherry tomatoes that she serves up with spaghetti and scallops for a satisfying meal.

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We're off to India with Sra from When my Soup came Alive - inspired by a comment on her blog she shows a good deal of ingenuity to make use of her fenugreek leaves to create a brand new dish, Potato-methi Cutlets.

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Our next first-timer is Kaykay from Cooking from A to Z. Even after a long week she finds the time to whip up this nourishing Spicy Moroccan Lentil Soup that features fennel grown right in her veggie patch. I hope there's many more offerings to come!

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Chris from Mele Cotte joins us with Acorn Squash (or Gem Squash as they are called in Oz) and makes a most delightful Twice Baked Acorn Squash - filled with a mix of spinach, bacon, onion and parmesan cheese. Just love that crusty top.

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Sabra from Cookbook Catchall is presenting the first dessert and she's also another newcomer to WHB - a big welcome goes out to you. I don't think this ingredient has been featured before but she is using Rose-Scented Geranium Water to flavour a Mascarpone Cheesecake. Do check out her post as she gets us up to speed on the ins and outs of rose-scented geraniums. Try not to lick the screens too much ;)

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Kevin from Closet Cooking utilises his home-made figjam to make a rather scrumptious dish of Pork Chops in Balsamic Fig Sauce. The balsamic manages to cut through the sweetness of the jam and helps to balance the dish out and he finishes off by adding fresh figs and some thyme.

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Zuzana from Zlamuska's Spicy Kitchen is also joining us for the first time of many I hope and for this entry she returns to her native country of Slovakia to find the perfect ingredient - Stinging Nettles. She assures us they are perfectly safe and offers various ways of enjoying them, including a rather refreshing stinging nettle tea. She also makes for us some tasty Stinging Nettle Patties that make use of the tea making leftovers.

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We have our first drink for this week courtesy of Gwen from the Intoxicated Zodiac Blog and she makes use of Rosemary to create her unique Coucher Avec Moi. The rosemary is muddled with Limoncello and once macerated added to various ingredients that include Lavendar Water - this is a drink that is sure to appeal to all those Geminis out there.

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Our Guru of WHB, the chairwomen of the board, the wonderful Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen is next and has finally found a good use for green tomatoes..and what a use, get your pita bread ready as she prepares the best salsa evah - Salsa Verde with Green Tomatoes, Avocados and Cilantro. In this salsa extraordinaire we have green tomatoes, onion, chilli, garlic, cilantro, avocados, parsley, lime juice and extra virgin olive oil that combine to form Yum.

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Pamela, The Cooking Ninja hones her cooking ninja skills and finds a most appealing way to prepare that bitter green, Endive. After steaming the endives, they are wrapped in ham and then bathed in bechamal sauce, the coup de gras comes in the sprinkling of grated cheese - bake in the oven and voilà - Gratin d'endives au jambon, delicious in any language.

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The Cook Sister herself, Jeanne is next up with broad beans (or fava beans) - double shelling to highlight their sweetness and replicating a dish she first tasted and fell in love with in Granada - Habas con Jamon/Broad Beans with Spanish Ham. Do take Jeanne's advice and don't skimp on the quality - use the best olive oil and Jamon you can find and the dish will more than reward you.

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It's a big welcome to our next first-timer Grihini and she uses the delightfully aromatic dill leaves to make Sapsige Soppina Rotti or Rotti with Dill Leaves. Grihini starts with rice flour and combines it with onions, green chillies, grated carrot and coconut along with curry leaves and the feathery dill to make her fragrant Rotti. Eat them while they are hot!

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Mike from Mike's Table uses the utterly beautiful pomegranate in a Middle eastern/Mediterranean inspired dish - Pork with Pomegranate Rosemary Sauce. The pork tenderloin is dry rub with a blend that includes allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, pepper, nutmeg and salt - you can already get a sense of the flavours the meat will have. For the sauce it's a simmering affair of onions, garlic, honey, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and of course pomegranate.

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Food Blogga, Susan is up next with red lentils and a solution to those rainy days. You don't have to watch Ballykissangel or wait for rain to enjoy this nourishing Red Lentil Mulligatawny with Apple-Celery Salsa. Susan has adapted the recipe from Cooking Light - the crunchy salsa the ideal contrast to the smooth but spicy soup. I can just smell the aromas of those wonderful spices - cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne coming out and up from that steaming bowl.

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Lia from Swirling Notions is up next with her home grown peck of Padrón Peppers. Lia takes her inspiration for her dish from Bar Cesar where she first fell for them - in fact she loved them so much after searching high and low she found the seeds and grew them herself! With such perfect produce you don't need a fussy presentation - they are simply seared in hot oil until the skin blisters and then dressed with a little coarse salt. I could see myself enjoying these with a cooling sangria.

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The lovely Anh from Food Lover's Journey comes from my home that seems so far away, Melbourne and she puts a spin on a dish by local chef Teague Ezard. While Ezard uses a tempura batter Anh can't resist her beer batter crunch so she presents for our enjoyment her (almost) contemporary dish - Beer Battered Fish with Lotus and Taro Root Chips. Anh notes that you must use fresh taro and lotus root as the frozen product will not do. She'll also be posting pics for those who are a little unsure of these ingredients.

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Next up is Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook and she presents a favourite vacation dish (must be something in the air!) New England Potato Clam Chowder. Susan's chowder is different as she uses mashed potatoes to thicken the soup rather than flour - what an excellent idea!

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Jennifer from Like to Cook offers up another suggestion for green tomatoes, the classic Fried Green Tomatoes. Jennifer uses a 3 part process in which the tomato slices are first dusted in flour, then dipped in a mix of egg and buttermilk before being dredged in a herbed and spiced mixture of cornmeal, flour, thyme, pepper and cayenne. The end result is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.

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Sandra is a newish blogger and this is her first entry for WHB and she has the utterly charming blog, The Artful Cook. While you head over to read her post on rocket (or Argula) and her delicious dish Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat's Cheese, Pancetta and Rocket Leaf Salad, you just won't be able to help admire her gorgeous artwork.

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Last weeks hostess, Ulrike from Küchenlatein can't prepare anything for us this week as her kitchen renovations are taking place and her kitchen is a mess but she does share with us her basil and parsley plants that are still sitting on her windowsill. Let's hope she'll be back in full swing for next week's big 2 year celebration.

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Sidewalk Shoes is Pam's blog and with school holidays starting, time won't be so stretched - this week Pam offers up a comforting Tomato Risotto with Pesto inspired by Donna Hay. In this risotto Pam uses her home-made roasted tomatoes to give a rich and full flavour to the dish.

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Sarah from Avenue Food joins us with her spicy offering of Mapo Dofu that uses the once banned Szechuan Peppercorns. Through trail and error, Sarah warns us to beware as they have numbing properties.

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Country Victoria is our next stop where we find Pam and her blog The Backyard Pizzeria - I wholeheartedly encourage Pam to return to Italy, 3 years is way too long. Now Pam is making Pasta with a French twist with its use of tarragon - get ready with your plates and enjoy Pasta with a creamy chicken, mushroom and tarragon sauce.

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Burcu from the always informative Almost Turkish Recipes has found a use for those large zucchini. Cutting them into thirds, she carves out a hollow and fills them to create her flavoursome Stuffed Zucchini with Bulgur (Bulgurlu Kabak Domasi). Along with bulgur the stuffing contains onion, garlic, green onions, chilli, tomato, fresh mint and lemon zest.

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The Inadvertent Gardner, Genie has found herself with rich ripe tomatoes still on the vine at this time of the year. With this bountiful excess Genie prepares a Freshly Roasted Salsa that should prove to be a firm favourite to all. Tomatoes, onion and jalapeños are chopped, drizzled with olive oil and then roasted in the oven - finish off with raw tomatoes, cilantro and lemon juice and there you have it! All that is missing are the corn chips.

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What did you Eat? I think the answer will be this marvellous Spinach and Feta Cheese Yeast Bread with Nutmeg made by the talented Sher. Nutmeg just loves spinach and this bread is chock full of goodness. Simple to make, 10 minutes in a mixmaster and your dough will be ready. Perhaps you best be making two loaves as I think one just won't be enough.

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The always delightful Anna from Morsels & Musings is back with a fruit from her childhood, mulberries. We all should be thankful for mulberries as Anna tells us, without them, we wouldn't have silk. Anna uses the mulberries to make a birthday cake for her husband Jonas and talk about serendipity, it's one I made a while back so I can speak from experience that this Mulberry and Cinnamon Cake is delicious. Kudos to Ursula Ferrigno for having come up with a great base recipe. Anna has put her own stamp on the cake and added cassia to give it a stronger cinnamon flavour. I hope you'll all join me in wishing Jonas a most happy (belated) birthday.

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Pille from Nami-Nami introduces us to an Estonian fruit that I'm sure none of us has ever heard of, Sea-Buckthorn Berries and if you want to know all about this super-fruit then do read Pille's most informative post. With these berries Pille creates an eye-catching and unique offering, Sea-Buckthorn Jelly with Kama and Mascarpone Mousse.

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1x umrühren bitte aka Kochtopf's Zorra is making a southern Italian speciality, Calamaretti alla Napoletana using fresh tomatoes and parsley from her garden. Squid pieces are gently simmered a rich base of onions, tomatoes, garlic, peperoncino, raisins, pinenuts, olives and parsley and the served with thick pieces of bread to soak up those wonderful juices. As an aside, I'd like to remind everyone that Zorra is once again hosting World Bread Day on October 16th - so do check out her post on how you can take part.

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Jerry from Jerry's Thoughts, Musings and Rants! dishes up a rather appropriate offering considering my current location. Based on a recipe on a calendar he bought in Volterra last year, Jerry makes these delectable Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter Sauce. Jerry also provides instructions on how to make and roll the dough too.

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Katie's blog is Thyme for Cooking and this week she's finding time to make two recipes for her bell peppers! You can enjoy her Stuffed Peppers - Oriental Style and Americas Style. I think it might just be too hard to choose you'll just have to have one (or more) of each!

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Stephanie from What I Eat has decided to give Pomegranates another try having been unimpressed in the past. After tossing around ideas on what to make Stephanie comes up with a dish of Valencia Oranges with Pomegranate Vinaigrete - so good it didn't last until dessert. I think pomegranates have a new fan.

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Cucina Bella's Sarah has listed everything you wanted to know about apples but were afraid to ask so if you don't know what you can do with that apple sitting in the fruit bowl then head to here to find out. But if being informative isn't enough, Sarah also shares a recipe for French Apple Pie - served deep dish style, the apples are flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and then crowned with a crumb topping. I can see a shortage of apples happening on Monday.

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The delightful Paz from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz has been under real time pressures leaving her with precious little free time. So it's especially good that's she's managed to take part in this edition of WHB. Paz uses three herbs, parsley, basil and mint to put her spin on a recipe by Nigella - do enjoy the pleasant mix of flavours from Paz's Feta, Walnut and Herb Salad.

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And finally, I play with my food and make a flag (it's really a deconstructed Caprese Salad)

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So that is it for this week. Next week we celebrate two years so do head over the Kalyn's site to get all the details on what is happening.

You still have time to predict what will be voted most popular herb and vegetable and be in the running to win two cookbooks - head here to test your psychic powers.

If I have left anyone out or there are errors in this post, like links not working please just drop me an email and I'll see to it in the morning.

And with that it's a Buona Notte from me in Firenze!

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