Month: April 2014

“All About Chocolate”, a book and chocolate

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My 3rd grader somehow managed to take me into his reading class and into “All About Chocolate”, the book. The task: Complete the book review and bring a chocolate treat to share. 🙂

Last week was my busiest week, but somehow my kid kept reminding me to make sure we had something with chocolate for his class. He already knew he wanted to bring chocolate strawberries. We went to the store and got a very simple couple of ingredients: Strawberries and melting chocolate. Probably everyone knows this recipe already. However, I was amazed at how little time this recipe took as I was able to put it all together in 5 minutes. Our goal was to have 14 strawberries ready to go by 7:55am, and we did it! When it was all done, three thoughts occupied my mind…

  • 1) I should NOT panic when it comes to being a part of my kids’ school activities. (Somehow there is also time to have some fun together!)
  • 2) How expensive valentine chocolate strawberries are!
  • 3) When it comes to putting together a nice and quick chocolate recipe, I should listen to my kids more often.

Recipe

  • Ingredients: Chocolate, hard chocolate to microwave (store-bought, of course)
  • Instructions: Clean the strawberries. The leaves may be handy for hand-picking. Dry them with a paper towel. Follow the hard chocolate directions for melting the chocolate. When melted, immerse the strawberries half way through into the container of chocolate dip.

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Travel to Southern Italy with Homemade Limoncello

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Making Limoncello at home is an old tradition in Southern Italy. Many homes carry this homemade after-dinner aperitif in the freezer. Yes, the bottle is best kept in the freezer, and the aperitif is served chilled. 🙂 Absolutely irresistible!

Our good friend Emilio is from Southern Italy, and has lived in the United States for many years. He finds time in his busy schedule to make limoncello. It is his unique way to travel back home, one sip at a time.

We had been to dinner at Emilio’s home and he offered us limoncello. Following traditional customs, some serve it on small ceramic glasses, also chilled. Emilio used beautiful, small, delicate glasses. I had to ask him for the recipe. Emilio was very generous. He gave me the recipe, and reached into his freezer for a bottle (from a batch he had previously made.) Needless to say, my husband was extremely happy! I was also extremely happy with the experience! I went a bit further and got myself the beautiful set of limoncello glasses you see in this post. Somehow an extra set of 4 glasses got purchased and made it out of the store with me. They were for Emilio, of course! I couldn’t think of a better way to show my gratitude.

Thinking about all that great Limoncello taste, I went ahead and researched other recipes calling for limoncello, and here are my favorite ones: Limoncello chicken and limoncello cake. I will try them and share them with you in future posts. For now, here is Emilio’s recipe.

  • Limoncello 

Ingredients

10 lemons (as fresh and large as possible)

1 qt Everclear alcohol

1 1/4 qt. water

2 lbs sugar

Peel the lemons very thin. Prepare an infusion with the lemon peels and the Everclear. The infusion needs to sit for about 10 days. After 10 days, boil the water and add sugar for a few minutes to make a simple syrup (sugar will be completely dissolved and mixture should be clear.) Let the water and sugar cool completely. Strain the Everclear infusion, remove the lemon peels. Combine the simple syrup mixture with the Everclear and pour into bottles. Store in a cool, dark place. Be sure to put the limoncello in the freezer before serving as it is best served very cold.

Tapas D’Jerez

 

 

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Croquetas. Ham,  shrimp and spinach cream, breaded.  Spanish classic Tapas.

Tapas. Appetizers, snacks, light meal (if you combine 2 or 3 of them.) Cold, hot, battered, fried, baked. Spain has its way of making an imprint, since the colonial times. Once you have tried tapas you have been conquered! They’re contagious and delicious. In the beginning you may be going innocently about it. Tapas are designed to encourage conversation and they’re perfect to break the ice or even close a deal.

I was intrigued about how it all started so I did a bit of a research to share with you. In early times in Andalusia, Spain, bar goers would use slices of bread to cover their drinks to avoid flies from hovering over their sweet sherry drinks. They even used ham or chorizo to cover the drinks as well. Bar tenders had found their profitable niche. Now they could sell ham, bread, chorizo and anything that could cover (tapar) the glass. I can see how the Spanish word “tapar” (cover) morphed into “tapas.” There are other possible stories about its origin, tied to royalty, but I thought this one made the most sense. This root is also closer to me, since in my Caribbean home flies are a nuisance..  What a clever way to put an end to the issue, while staying joyful and cheerful 🙂

All this said, I had to stop by Tapas D’Jerez in Colorado. I was not disappointed. An authentic atmosphere with Flamenco guitarist and dancer, and Spanish painter art hangs on the walls. The Chef made us feel at home. He accompanied us while explaining the various tapa dishes in great detail. Before deciding to visit them, I had read their story which is posted in their website, http://www.tapasdjerez.com.

Here are a few pictures of what we eat and loved! Last, but definitely not least, we had “Sangria” which was exquisite! I felt transported to Spain. We also had a great and fine choice of imported and local wines. I opted for a Spanish wine, of course! It was delicious and a great partner for my tapas. 🙂

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Tapas – Crepes de Mariscos (Seafood crepes)

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Traditional tapa dishes: Pimiento de Piquillo a la Hortelana

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Parrillada de Pescado y Mariscos – Grilled Seafood Platter Tapas

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Paella de Mariscos (Seafood Paella)

This Paella was not just delicious but also abundant! Tapas D’Jerez may be on the opposite side of the planet from Spain, but this is a wonderful way to travel the world with fine dining.