July 17, 2014





















I was checking out the Consumerist and they reported that Fortune magazine has compiled a list of 9 “forbidden’ foods that have been banned in the US.   Here’s the list:

  • Trans fats:  Banned in: New York City
  • Raw milk: Banned in: 21 states
  • Absinthe: Banned in: The U.S. (sort of: Absinthe is legal in the United States, contrary to popular belief, as long as the spirit’s levels of thujone – a toxic chemical present in wormwood, one of the herbs used to make absinthe – do not surpass the Food and Drug Administration’s limit of 10 parts per million.).   Interestingly enough I was reading an article a few weeks ago and some researchers discovered that also back in the days the presence of thujone was way below the current limits.
  • Foie Gras:  Banned in: Chicago
  • Uncertified Chilean sea bass:  Banned in: The U.S.
  • Horse meat:  Banned in: California, Illinois and other states.  I did not know that this was banned.  Long story short my granpa owned lots of horses and sometime when they were not good for what he needed they would end up as Horse meat.  I was really a kid so I don’t remember any details, but I am pretty sure I never wanted to try it.
  • Wild Beluga caviar.  Banned in: The U.S.
  • Shark fins.  Banned in: The U.S.
  • High-fructose corn syrup.  On the endangered list in: San Francisco

Interesting list…

The book is coming…

April 22, 2008


We got a great concept for the book.  The team is in place:  we got a great photographer – my friend Claudio and a fantastic editor.

If things go as planned the goal is to have it out in a couple of months (most of the writing is already done)!

There are still lots of details to be worked out…but it’s going to be a fun weekend project.

More to come in the upcoming weeks!

I was at the Metropolitan Market looking for a dinner inspiration and saw that they had lobster tails.  H likes pasta really spicy, so I decided to make a pasta alla Fra’ Diavola (known also as devil sauce).  There are different ways to make this pasta and some require way too much work for my taste.   I like a variation which is simpler to make and less prone to mistakes.   I had a package of pasta called “bucatini”.  This is a very common type in Italy, but a bit more difficult to find here.  It’s a “bigger” sp

Here’re the ingredients for two people (about 1/2 poung of pasta):

  • two small lobster tails (or two big ones – noboby will complain about too much lobster!)
  • couple of fresh tomatoes
  • one can of crushed tomatoes
  • onion (shallots are better)
  • half glass of white wine (the same that you’d be serving)
  • parsley, pepper, salt. extra virgin olive oil
  • spicy pepper

It’s not super quick, but it should take about 25mins for the sauce to be ready.

Step zero:  cut the lobster tails in chunks of about one inch each.  In a different pot start boiling water.

Step one:  in a pan over medium heat add three tablespoon olive oil and the shallots.  When the shallots turn translucent add the lobster chunks.  Let the lobster cook (changing sides every couple of minutes) until the shell turns red.  At this point add the white wine.  This is a good time to add the freshed tomatoes (chopped).

Step two: as the white wine starts reducing add the the crushed tomatoes.  I used a small can for two people.  This dish is not supposed to be overly saucy.  This is also the time to spice up the sauce – add the spicy pepper, salt, black pepper and if you want a bit of other spices.  This is also the time of start cooking the pasta in the boiling water (don’t forget to add salt).  This is how my sauce was looking at this point:

lobster sauce 

Step 3: as the sauce starts boiling again lower the heat to medium/low and let it cook until the pasta is ready (about 10mins).   Drain the pasta (it should be al dente) and mix it with the sauce.  Cook together for about a minute.

Step 4:  you’re done!  Plate the pasta and serve it.

lobster pasta


(cross-posted from the Wishpot Gift Guru blog)

Cooking books make really good gifts.  They are useful, creative, personal and not too expensive.  In other words..almost as good as it gets for a gift!

Now, having said that, what’re some good cookbooks to give? 

Of course you can give one from any of top chefs from the food network:  Racheal Ray, Mario Batali, Barefoot Contessa , Emiril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Giada DeLaurentiis, just to name a few.  These are somewhat easy bets, especially if you know that the gift recipient likes their shows.  My favorite in this mix is Mario’s “The Babbo Cookbook”.   It’s also important to highlight that as previously reported Racheal Ray’s “365 No Repeats” is the #1 book wished for on Wishpot!

Now, you could go more upscale and uber-gourmet and get either the one by Adrian Ferre “El Bulli 1998-2002” or the one from multi three-Michelin-stars Alain Ducasse.   I personally have the El Bulli one in my personal wishlist.  I mean, it’s impossible to get a reservation to Ferre’s restaurant and at least I want a chance to try a recipe (assuming I can find the ingredients!).

There are some good alternatives in the dessert area (or should I say “course”).  I have read high praises for the “Sweet Life” by Kate Zuckerman.  The pix look amazing and the Lemon Tart is supposed to be the best ever.

One last idea could be to give a book about the fundamentals of cooking and food.  Two books that come highly recommended in this subcategory:  Cookwise and “On Food and Cooking”.

I included the recommendations above plus a few others on a new list “Cooking Books Wishlist” on the Wishpot’s GiftGuru page.

I love this dish.  It’s fundamentally the way good fish is supposed to be cooked:  in the oven, light on spices and with potatoes on the side.  No creams, no heavy rubs, nothing that would spoil the flavor of good fresh seafood.

As result the list of ingredients is short, the recipe is very simple and the bill for the fish high 🙂

Ingredients (about 6 people):

  • 2 pounds of fresh halibut
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil 
  • salt, black pepper, a bit of thyme
  • 1/3 cup of white wine
  • few black olives (use Kalamata or some other “salty” version)

The steps:

1.  Chop the potatoes in smaller chunks (I do something along the line of a 1/3in by 1/3in – no need to be too precise).  I wash them and add 5 tablespoon of olive oil, black pepper, salt (don’t be shy) and the white wine.  Mix everything and stick the pan in the oven at 400.  The potatoes take longer than the fish to cook and you want to give them an head start.


2.  After about 10 mins I usually take the potatoes out, give it a good stir and add the fish (with salt, pepper and thyme).  If I have lots of people for dinner and the fish is big I usually tend to already cut it in individual portions.  It requires a smaller pan, but that’s not the main reason.  It actually cooks faster.  A rule that someone mentioned to me was 10mins for each each of fish (head to tail).  When I cook individual slices (of about an inch each) I usually go for 20mins.  This is a good time to also add the olives.

3.  After about 20 mins the dish is ready!

halibut with potatoes 


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Yesterday I covered the basics about frittata when I posted about “frittata con le salsiccie” (frittata with sausage).

We have a pescetarian in the house.  So, at the last brunch I had to make also a vegetarian frittata.  I used potatoes and leeks.  It’s simple and very good.

Ingredients (this makes an 8×1 inch frittata):

  • one leek 
  • three potatoes
  • 10-12 eggs
  • salt, pepper and herbs (i used thyme)
  • extra virgin olive oil

The steps:

1.  slice the leeks (white part only) and dice the potatoes (small pieces).

potatoes     leeks

2.  start sautee’ing the potatoes in 3-4 tablespoon of olive oil.   It will take a good 10-15mins for the potatoes to cook properly.  After about 10mins add the leeks and let sautee for another 5mins.

 potatoes  leeks and potatoes

3.  Time to add the beaten egg mix.  Let it cooked at medium-low heat for about 5-10mins (in my pan it took about 10mins).  

 frittata is cooking 

4.  it’s now time to turn the frittata around.  When do you turn it?  A good test is to check the bottom of the frittata with a spatula.  If the bottom is a nice golden brown it’s time to turn the frittata around.  Quick steps:

cimg2939-600.jpg  cimg2940-600.jpg  cimg2941-600.jpg

5.  Cook it now for another 3-5 mins and the frittata is ready to go!!  



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