Butternut Squash Quesadillas with Tomatillo Salsa

I made these quesadillas and couldn't get enough of them.  I followed Deb's recipe over on Smitten Kitchen, only I substituted butternut squash in place of the acorn squash.  They were delicious.  I highly recommend making the accompanying tomatillo salsa since it balances the heaviness of the squash.  Finally, wash it all down with a chilled glass of hard cider.


Crack Mac and Cheese

Fall is comfort food season.  The cold weather signals the arrival of stews, casseroles, and macaroni and cheese.  Back in college, my roommates and I adhered to the Joy of Cooking recipe, and for a good reason.  It was delicious, not too complicated, and reheated nicely as leftovers.  Last month, I decided to branch out and try a different recipe, using the always trusted Martha Stewart.  I followed Deb's adaptation over on Smitten Kitchen, but made some adjustments myself, including the amount of pasta.  Perhaps we're just pigs in my house, but I doubled the recipe to make it two pounds of pasta, and we still finished it the second day.  (I would say it serves about 10, with the doubling of the noodles.)  The combination of Gruyère and white cheddar is delicious, if not pricey, decadence.  The crispy breadcrumbs on top give an otherwise mushy dish a welcome variety in texture.  I think it shall be referred to as crack mac and cheese from now on.  Recipe here.


M-eating Restaurant in Mykonos

On our last night in Mykonos, A. and I decided to splurge on dinner.  (As good as the 2.50 gyro sandwiches were, it was nice to have a long, sit-down dinner before the nightly festivities.)  We ended up eating at M-eating Restaurant, right smack in the action.  We made a reservation for 10:30pm, and in true Mykonos fashion, we were right on time.  The bartender was really sweet and sent over shots of mastiq.  It was very woodsy and a nice change from the ouzo and tequila we'd been enjoying on the island.  The setting of this restaurant is just divine- we sat on the back garden patio under the trees.  Soft candles glowed all around us and set the tone for our meal to come.  
I had to order this appetizer once I saw that two of my favorite Greek dishes were included: fava puree and tzatziki.  The tzatziki was one of the best I had on the trip- the texture was thick and creamy and it was loaded with garlic.  
I also enjoyed a sea bass filet with couscous that was cooked perfectly, the citrus-infused juices seeping out when I sliced my knife into it.  We lingered over our dinner, before heading out after midnight.  The night was still young in Mykonos, and it was time to celebrate our final night on the island...
M-eating is located at 10 Kalogera str. in Mykonos (town) 


My Salerno

Salerno will always hold a special place in my heart.  First and foremost, I still have cousins that live there.  It was from this part of Italy that my great-grandfather immigrated to Boston, where he met my great-grandmother from Friuli.  Ever since my first visit to Campania, my relatives have always been the most hospitable, wonderful family.  But aside from my personal attachment to Salerno, this is a beautiful part of Italy.  Salerno is a sizable city not far south of Naples.  That means lots of good pizza as well as a rich culture. It's close enough to the pretty yet touristy towns of Positano and Amalfi, and far enough away that you can return in the evening and walk among Italians dressed in their finest, tasting an ice cream cone, and lingering about during their passeggiata.  
Ancient botanical gardens
Gulf of Salerno
Dinner at the cousins!
My favorite part of the trip is every night when we sit down for dinner where we partake in simple food at its best.  They make their tomato sauce once a year and bottle it up to use for the next twelve months.  We enjoy vegetables like green beans, roasted peppers, zucchini, and a simple lettuce salad-everything tastes like it was picked from the garden a few minutes ago.  We'll finish with different cheeses- buffalo mozzarella of course, some parmigiano, and another type perhaps.  And finally, melon, gelato, and cake for whoever still has room.


Gingersnap Ice Cream Sandwiches

This summer I checked out Emily Luchetti's cookbook, A Passion for Ice Cream, and was blown away.  This wasn't just another generic ice cream cookbook.  Not only are the desserts unique and delicious-sounding, each one is beautifully presentable. The first dessert we made were these gingersnap ice cream sandwiches, which are a fun twist on the typical ice cream sandwich.  I highly recommend making the cookies as well, as they are far superior to the store-bought kind. These gingersnaps are moist and chewy and have the perfect ratio of sweet and spicy.  The vanilla ice cream is also another Luchetti hit.  We wrapped them in paper held together with stickers and served them at a dinner party- they are the perfect end to a meal and a real crowd-pleaser. Recipe here.


FRESKO yogurt bar in Athens

Our first morning in Athens, we scrambled to fit as much stuff into the day as possible, before our 6-hour long bus ride to beautiful Lefkada.  That included a breathtaking visit to the Acropolis where despite the crowds, I was left in awe by the ancientness of it all, even more than any ruins I'd encountered in Italy.  I was hungry after the visit, so we stopped at FRESKO yogurt bar, on the backside of the Acropolis (near the New Acropolis Museum).  This cute shop offers several varieties of Greek yogurt (including sheep yogurt), yogurt-blended smoothies, and a plethora of mix-ins. I ended up deciding on a mix of delicious goodies in mine: crumbled biscuit cookies, slivered almonds, and candied bergamot and mandarin.
FRESKO yogurt bar is located at 3 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street in Athens


Pink Flamingo Pizza in Paris

Living in Paris for two years, I often wanted tasty "fast" food, and L'As du Falafel usually did the trick.  On a recent visit back, I got to try out Pink Flamingo, a small chain with several locations including one by the Canal Saint-Martin.  At this location, you can order your pizza, then take a balloon they give you down to the canal and wait for them to deliver it to you, by identifying your balloon.  Since it was winter, we just got it to go and took it back to our apartment, where we enjoyed it under the comfort of modern-day heat.  The pizza is tasty, reasonably priced, and there are some cool flavor options available.  I enjoyed the Aphrodite pizza, which consisted of grilled eggplant marinated in garlic, olive oil, hot pepper, and homemade hummus.


Roasted Pineapple with Honey, Pistachios, and Crème Fraîche

After a whirlwind through Italy and New England, I'm back home.  While I get settled and prepare some new posts, I thought today we'd talk pineapple.  There's nothing quite like fresh pineapple.  I can still remember bringing back a whole one after a high school band trip in Hawaii.  So the last time I was at Trader Joe's, I decided to bypass the more convenient (and expensive) pre-cut pineapple for an entire fruit.  Cutting it wasn't as difficult as I anticipated- my sharp knife came in handy.  This dessert is indulgent, fresh, and simple.  It would make a great finale to a dinner party, because not only do the flavors impress, but the presentation isn't too shabby either.  I'm looking forward to making this for friends and family.  Recipe here.


Verjus Wine Bar in Paris

When I was living in Paris a few years ago, I was always hearing good things about Hidden Kitchen, an underground supper club.  When my mother came to visit from the States, I made sure to put in a request for a reservation.  Then one day before the dinner, I woke up super sick.  As much as I wanted to go, I knew I couldn't so I emailed them my cancellation.  Hidden Kitchen ended up closing as the couple running it, Braden and Laura, decided to open their own restaurant in Paris.  On a cold winter night this past February, I finally got to stop by and try the Verjus wine bar for dinner.
Celeriac dumplings w/ dan-dan sauce, chives, toasted peanuts
 Buttermilk fried chicken w/napa cabbage slaw and micro greens
 Amazing charred broccoli with crackly Korean rice cake, anchovy, lemon and parm

Verjus wine bar is located at 47 rue Montpensier in Paris in the 1st


Around Here Lately

Dinner has often been peaches, prosciutto, and goat cheese on the side porch
We've been eating homemade yogurt for breakfast
...and enjoyed the summer skyline before a pasta dinner at Tavolata
We walked to the U-District Farmers Market
...and visited the P-patch along the way
I made meatball subs for a beach picnic
...and this was the view at the picnic
This was in someone's yard to celebrate the London Olympics!
I've been improving my grilling skills
...while drinking peach and green tea coolers
I've cooled off with homemade lemon-buttermilk popsicles
...and watched the Olympics with homemade "TV dinners"