Tony is all about food. His ongoing food events and special projects have been featured in the press. To learn more, you can view his gallery, read his blog, or simply contact him directly.

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Pesto with my Italian Double & ATOM

ATOM: A Taste of the Mediterranean

If it weren’t for the whole making-a-living part of life, I would spend all my days traveling the world without even giving it a second thought.  Unfortunately, making a living seems to be one of the cruel prerequisites to my globe-trotting dreams; so, until then, I travel when I get the chance and often resort to cooking to fulfill the rest of my curiosity.

This past month I thought of an idea that would be awesome to do with all the fellow food bloggers out there.  Let’s travel around the Mediterranean!  I know!  Why didn’t I think of this before?  My type of travel doesn’t require any sort of luggage or even a passport, just a hearty appetite for Med deliciousness.  We’ll taste it all; from the Portuguese influences present in Spanish cuisine to the earthy undertones unique in North African fare. 

The project has been appropriately titled, A Taste of the Mediterranean.  Each month I will feature a different culinary region from the Mediterranean (French, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern, North African and Spanish) along with an appropriate regional recipe.  This is where the traveling comes in.  The challenge will be to blog about your own spin on that particular recipe (or technique) for a chance to win that month’s grand prize.

Stamp from Italy 

Each challenge will also come with a unique stamp that all participants can use to decorate their blogs with!   If you need a smaller version of the stamp for your blog, click here.  Participate each month and collect them all!

Pesto with my Italian Double

What better place is there to start our Mediterranean excursion than in Italy?  The challenge for this month is based on the classic Pesto Genovese!  The sky’s the limit on the type of pesto you choose to make, so long as it follows the basic nut-cheese-garlic-oil combo.  All entries must be submitted (i.e. posted) by June 15th in order to be eligible to win that month’s prize. 

In the mean time, I leave you with a Pesto video I made with my Italian Double, Paolo.  I look forward to reading all the amazing pesto ideas everyone has to share!

Cheers,

Tony

All the rules & regs are posted here.

These are a couple of my favorite pestos: 

Is Cardamom the new Cinnamon?

This entry is dedicated to Karen, my brunch-loving friend who will always have a soft spot for Oreos!

Has anyone else noticed this? Cardamom is everywhere now; in blogs, recipe books and other food-driven media. For centuries, Middle Easterners used this unassuming pod to flavor teas, coffees and the occasional desserts. Now, the humble cardamom pod has been given the 90210-celebrity treatment and is making its way to pantries around the world. If you need to see it to believe it, you could check out these blogs featuring delicious cardamom Christmas cookies and cardamom roasted cauliflower for yourself.

Sweet or savory, I love the lemony fragrance that Cardamom brings to the table.  The idea of pairing cardamom with french toast came to me when my friend Desiree told me of this exquisite cardamom crème brûlée she had tasted in a restaurant.  The way she described the fragrant cardamom undertone that the dessert carried through made me eager to experiment some more with the spice. I figured both, French Toast and Creme Brûlée, are custard-based so the cardamom pairing should adapt well.

Random Fact: In France, French Toast is called Pain Perdu, which literally means Lost Bread.  This is because stale bread is traditionally used to make this dish and so it is a great way of using stale, or “lost,” bread.

This past weekend my friend Karen came to visit me in Ithaca now that it’s springtime no longer subzero. On Sunday we enjoyed the day together by climbing Cornell’s clock tower and making brunch.  It was the perfect time to try out the Cardamom French Toast that I had been meaning to experiment with. Here is how it went:

Orange Cardamom French Toast

(yields approx. 6 servings)

Components

  • 6 slices of Challah bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. cardamom, ground
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Putting them all together

  1. Mix the milk, eggs, honey, orange zest and cardamom in a bowl.
  2. Soak Challah slices in egg mixture.
  3. Melt butter in a large nonstick saute pan and cook the slices until golden brown on each side.
  4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve alongside your favorite brunch items.

Print

Tastes like way more than a sandwich

Although I’m sure many of us enjoy the rich flavors of a 6-hour Bolognese sauce (the way nonna used to make it) or the flaky homemade texture of Baklava, there are just not enough hours in the day to indulge in these treats on a regular basis. Since I would never advocate resorting to fast food, there are always ways around this pickle. I knew I had to create a variety of dishes that I could rely on when time was breathing down my neck. College was the perfect place to develop this habit because it wipes your bank account clean and works you till the wee hours of the morning.

One of my favorite go-to dishes (and the one I decided to feature in today’s entry) is focaccia sandwiches. I make the focaccia at home using store-bought pizza dough and keep it in the fridge for easy access throughout the week. Also, the topping combinations for focaccia are as endless as the ingredients you can pair with it. A panini press is not required; but if you have been thinking about getting one lately, you definitely should (it’s probably one of my favorite toys in the kitchen!). Before I got mine I used toast the sandwich on a grill pan or in the toaster oven if I was feeling particularly lazy.

Focaccia Recipe

other go-to dishes of mine include:
- Pasta alla Zarina (Spinach Pesto Pasta)
- Chicken Piccata
- Low-fat Vanilla yogurt with frozen blueberries, cereal, almonds & flax seeds (my usual breakfast)