My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish. What do I mean? Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal. I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete. Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety. These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome. Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal. With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do. It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.
Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before. For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta. Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.
Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes. Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered. I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did. What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair. For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.
A quick note on L’eclisse. Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie. Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.
Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days! Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations. And remember…bite responsibly!
Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee
- 2 ripe medium avocados
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
- 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
- 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
- 6 tbsp raw cacao
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
- fresh coffee beans
- coffee press
- Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
- Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
- Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note: Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
- Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding
For Coffee Press
- Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
- Begin to heat water, don’t boil
- Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
- Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
- Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.
Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.
For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).
Should store, refrigerated for up to two days. After two days I’d smell it/taste it.
Italian Summer Salad
INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)
- 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
- 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
- colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose: 1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
- salt to taste
- course, freshly ground pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is: thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)
- After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
- Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
- Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed
- Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
- Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
- Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
- Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt. If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually. Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature
- Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
- Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.
Sauteed Summer Squash
- 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
- 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
- Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
- After beginning to brown, add garlic
- Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^
Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)
Recipe by: Cassie
- 2 tbsp flax (ground)
- 6 tbsp warm water
- 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)
Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!
- I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
- SALT the water!
- Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
- I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
- Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
- Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
- Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging. Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
- Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
- Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems.
Walnut Basil Pesto
- 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
- Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
- Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
- Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
- Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap
- This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.
Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes
Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
- 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
- water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
- 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
- handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)
- Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
- Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
- Blend once more
- Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!
- Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.
Mistakes. We all make them, in fact I can’t imagine a life without them, yet at what point are we not avoiding them like a bad romcom? So much of our life revolves around eating, eating and more eating. I mean, the one major legally obliged break a person gets at any place of work–in America–is a ‘lunch’ break. It’s often touted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day–again a comment of the routine of the day beginning with food, eating! What are most people looking forward to or for some dreading when they go home after a typical 8-5 job? Dinner. Eating, eating, eating! I shall save my food traditions and habits bit for another post and bring it back around to…shudder, mistakes.
Considering our magnetism to making them, shh (whispers) mistakes, how could we possibly avoid making them when it comes to eating and our food habits? More importantly, are they necessarily a bad thing?
It is my understanding–and a nice helping of wisdom from my paternal grandmother–that we have the ability to learn from those situations in life where we place error, but it is our choice to make the change. I think our life in relationship to food very much follows this rule.
Whether you’re following a strict regimented diet or you are the type of person who eats ‘whatever, whenever’, food can weigh on our minds with a heavy cloud of guilt. I’m of the opinion that there are enough stressors in life, food should not be one of them. Eating and sharing sweet nourishment with your loved ones is something we should all cherish and give thanks for, not fret, nitpick and gobble down without a thought. That being said, awareness is not handed to us with a pretty bow wrapped around it and an encouraging note. Awareness is something we have to work toward and strive for with honesty and trust in who we are and our ability to make thoughtful decisions.
This is where things can get a little rough. Sometimes when making those thoughtful, and what one thinks are altruistic choices, there is unsightly, hidden suffering that lingers. That suffering can lend to stressors and self-doubt about one’s food choices and decisions. Would you consider this a mistake?
Maybe I’m still being too ambiguous, yes? Let me give you an example. I’ve been eating quinoa since 2008 at least and lately it’s a staple of my diet. I buy it with thought trying to pick it up in bulk so as to waste less. I buy organic –which I’ve discovered most quinoa is organic even if not labeled as so–to avoid pesticides and chemicals that can easily creep into the chenophod ‘s exterior. I take care in preparing it properly by soaking it first, and I dine in appreciation of its incredible nutritive properties. But like with so many foods, I am discovering a dark side. Yesterday I read this article on the Times website that made me throw my hands into the air and sigh with defeat. My consumption of quinoa is both helping and hurting many people and creatures in a horrendous way. And to add insult to injury it’s being turned into a commodity–quinoa vodka, cola, etc… (See article for more details). Could my acquirement of quinoa from yesterday forward be classified as a mistake? Am I consciously going to be contributing to myriad of negative situations so I can enjoy a bite of complete healthy protein? I’ve been wracking my brain about this situation since yesterday afternoon.
This brings up my next point, what truly is cruelty free, vegan? Can we not, each of us, try to do the best that we can to cause as little harm as possible? Is everything rooted in hedonism?
Sorry for the excessive hypotheticals, but there are a lot of questions to be answered. Do I have all the answers? No. I’m stuck. The truth is, living in American society, in a city nonetheless, it’s next to impossible to live a life where your purchases and choices won’t potentially harm some being.
Simply put, do the best that you can. I don’t mean try to do the best you can, but really make the consorted effort to choose a life of connectedness and awareness. Then, you can’t look back on your life’s resolutions wondering what you could have done better. Personally, I don’t think anyone wears regret well, I say avoid it. Own the choices you make, move forward and understand you will make mistakes. Life will feel much simpler knowing you aren’t perfect.
And remember…bite as responsibly as you possibly can.
Today I wanted to share with you a clip from a more recent episode of The Simpson’s – I have an affinity for this show. When I saw the following clip for the first time a few months ago I was in hysterics, and I feel the need to share it with anyone who has yet to view it. The episode in its entirety is about the ever-popular term ‘foodies’ and their love of trying an assortment of foods, the eccentricities and fun that go with this group of people, and of course the BLOG to capture all of the ‘foodie’ moments. I hope you enjoy this short clip. ^_____^
The Simpsons, season 23, episode 5, “The Food Wife”
So, if you’re ever in the mood to try Ethiopian food, and you’re in the Austin area check out Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant. I must say I haven’t tried their cuisine yet–I plan on trying it out this weekend–but I have tried Ethiopian food in the past and it was fantastic. What’s great about Aster’s is you can get your ‘pancake-like’ spongy bread better known as injera on the side or not at all, for those who are concerned about consuming gluten or have an aversion to gluten. Please note that true injera is gf, because it’s made from a grain known as teff which is very high in iron, but most injera now is known to be made with gluten-rich grains as substitution. Be wary if you have an allergy or are avoiding gluten for other reasons. Additionally, Aster’s dishes and many Ethiopian dishes are vegan friendly.
I think it is very important to try dishes from other cultures because you not only open yourself up new flavors and textures, but you may discover spices and herbs with healing and cleansing properties you may have otherwise never known about. If you have a sensitive digestive system, I know trying new cuisines can be rough, so I suggest doing a little research about the restaurant, and pay attention to your tummy-ache food triggers. Try keeping a journal, and then you can narrow down what it is that irritates you or causes a flare-up.
I will be writing a post soon on food habits, and traditions so keep an eye out!
What are some of your favorite ethnic recipes, foods, places to eat? Any particular spices you’re interested in as of late?
I hope all of you found this clip/episode as entertaining as I did and recognize that sometimes it takes a humorous reminder to engage ourselves in a stronger connection to food and our lives.
And remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy and ‘Ethinic’ Regards, (hee)