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

Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category


A working blogger’s meal

Post-graduation life is just not the same. No more midday naps nor staying up all night with friends. These days I’m glad if I make it to happy hour and back in time for a good night’s sleep. I used to make fun of a recently-graduated friend of mine by calling him abuelito (grandpa in Spanish) because he would go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m sure this is karma’s way of poking fun at me.

One thing I don’t skimp on though, despite my lack of time, is the food I eat during the week. Instead of procrastinating on the blog some more, I thought I would write about a typical workweek meal and throw in some of my cooking mantras, too.

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Give fat a second chance

Food trends can make or break an ingredient’s reputation. All it takes is the publication of a silly carb-less diet or the disclosed eating habits (or lack thereof) of a swanky A-lister and your favorite ingredient could go MIA – either blacklisted at most restaurants or too taboo to enjoy even in your own home. On Monday, Mark Bittman introduced a contest on his NYTimes blog, Bitten, to make a mayonnaise using the residual fat from your bacon. Before you go into a panic attack, take a deep breath and follow me. It’ll be OK.

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Just peachy

Right now I should be in Seattle spending quality time (i.e. karaoke-ing)  with my friend Jess.  Just like this past weekend I should’ve been in sunny southern California at Diane & Todd’s blogger bash… but, no. Instead, I was informed (on my way to the airport on Friday) that my airplane would be delayed to the point that I would miss my connection. Mind you, this was the last connecting flight to southern California that evening. So, does the airline offer to put me up at a hotel for the night?  Does the airline even care to compensate me in any way? No and no. I just barely got my money back from the extremely rude supervisor and had to turn around and go home.

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Med LOVE

Glasses filled with wine, bursts of laughter, plenty of food to nibble on – this, to me, is the Mediterranean way of life. Even though there is no way I can convince my boss to let me take a siesta in the middle of the day, I can still lead a Med lifestyle vicariously through the food I make. This month I’m entering Jenn’s popular Royal Foodie Joust, where bloggers have to strategically incorporate three featured ingredients into their entries. Kittie, last month’s winner, chose to feature whole grains, ginger and citrus. YUM!

mise en place
mise en place

I decided to make a traditional Middle Eastern salad called Tabbouleh alongside citrus-marinated swordfish spedini (Italian word for skewers).  I snuck some grated ginger into the swordfish marinade, used bulgur wheat in the salad and incorporated citrus into both dishes.

parsley bouquet
parsley bouquet

In order to get most of the leaves from the parsley (and not a lot of the tough stems) you want to bundle little bouquets of parsley and chop the leaves ultra fine with your sharpest knife. Growing up, I remember all the women in my family would gather in the kitchen to chop mountains of parsley and exchange juicy gossip.

lemon juice + olive oil dressing
tabbouleh dressing

Now that we’re on the subject of tabbouleh (تبولة), I want clear up the common misconception that tabbouleh should have only have some parsley and lots of bulgur wheat – NO! The reason many restaurants go heavy on the bulgur is because it’s a lot cheaper and easier than chopping up all that parsley. And don’t try to use your fancy food processor… nope, it’ll only make parsley pesto and that’s a completely different post.

swordfish skewer
swordfish skewer

When it comes to fish, I don’t like to overdo it with too many harsh herbs and spices. I purposefully chose a combo of clean flavors – specifically, basil, mint, lemon & orange zest, ginger, olive oil, salt & pepper. Let them all mingle in the fridge for a couple hours before throwing the fish on the grill.

swordfish spedini, tabbouleh & olives
swordfish spedini, tabbouleh & olives

Next time you want to take a break from life and jet off to the Mediterranean, invite friends over for some tapas, mezze, antipasti, whatever you want to call it (small food?) and open a nice bottle of wine. It’s lots of fun and definitely my preferred way to host. Spread the Med LOVE!

tabbouleh salad
tabbouleh salad

Tabbouleh

yields approx 6-8 servings

Components

  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp bulgur, fine-ground*
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Wash herbs under cold water, drain, and wrap in a kitchen towel to dry.
  2. Soak the bulgur in 2 Tbsp of water.
  3. Finely chop herbs with a sharp knife (make sure everything is dry before chopping). Finely dice the tomatoes.
  4. At this point you could store everything in the refrigerator (well covered) for up to a day.
  5. To assemble, toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with the lemon juice and olive oil.
  6. Serve with hearts of romaine for added crunch (the small leaves towards the center are the best).

* Notes: Most Mediterranean markets or health food stores will carry fine bulgur (#1 grind). Use the sharpest knife possible and make sure herbs are dry before chopped to avoid the leaves from bruising.

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swordfish spedini
swordfish spedini

Swordfish Spedini

yields approx. 10 small skewers

Components

  • 1.25 lbs swordfish
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • basil, chopped
  • mint, chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Soak bamboo skewers in water.
  2. Cut swordfish into 1 inch cubes
  3. Marinade with the rest of the ingredients in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Skewer the cubes and grill (or broil) for a couple minutes on each side.  Until the inside is no longer translucent.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges

notes If you can’t find swordfish, you can make this dish with any hearty fish that can hold up being skewered and grilled. Tuna is a great fish that comes to mind.  Measurements for the marinade don’t have to be exact, just use what you’ve got.

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Zabaglione with a heaping tbsp of THANKS!

Ever since I could reach the stove, I’ve been cooking in the kitchen (refining my taste along the years). I remember mixing melted cheese with ketchup one time, but I’ll spare you the details of my culinary mishaps. My family, however, has always been extremely supportive and perfected the art of masking their displeasures with the widest grins on their face.  I, after all, was their favorite little chef.

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