eat

all-antica-vinaio-best-sandwich-florence-mycreative all-antica-vinaio-florence-foccaccia-mycreative all-antica-vinaio-florence-interior-mycreative

So you find yourself in Florence heading towards lunch time. You are getting hungry and you pass a gentlemen eating the most amazing looking sandwich made with creamy fluffy focaccia stuffed with quality looking fillings. You kindly ask him where he acquired this amazing sandwich and he points down to a road to a long queue and tells you it is worth it. It is worth it. You wait in the queue but it moves pretty quickly – only about 10 minutes. This gives you time to scout out whether there are some vegetarian options and a man from across the road walk over with a pile of fresh focaccia. You smile to yourself knowing you have made a good decision.

You get to the front and order a ‘vegateriana’ (with a question mark at the end). A friendly nod and a piece of fresh focaccia is grabbed, a sandwich size negotiated and fresh tomato, rocket, some vegetables and beautiful mozzarella piled on top. You hand over €5 for the biggest sandwich you have ever been given.

You walk happily down the street and find some free pavement to sit on and thoroughly enjoy what must surely be the best sandwich in Florence.

Maybe next time you will get a glass of wine from the help yourself counter.

If you haven’t eaten your whole sandwich (saving some for supper is a good idea) you might want to get some Gelato from Gelateria dei Neri

All’antico Vinaio, via dei Neri 74

Gelateria dei Neri, via dei Neri 22r

eat | the best tomato soup

roasted tomato soup roasted tomato soup roasted tomato soup roasted tomato soup

The changing season means soup are going to start coming back into my life. One of my favourites is a classic tomato soup. I have to say I quite miss the lentil and tomato soup from M&S, although it might be more from the convenience than the actual soup. So I have been experimenting with my own, last winter and again in the last few weeks.

Although everyone has their go to recipe, I thought I would share some of tips for making a fool proof delicious tomato soup.

1. good quality tomatoes

For a good tomato soup you want a bright red, fresh tomato. I like cherry tomatoes in particular for their sweetness.

2. roast the tomatoes

Roasting the tomatoes gives them a great depth of flavour. Get them to where they are just getting blackened. Yum. If you are roasting bigger tomatoes you can pop a clove of garlic in too

3. the secret ingredient

Red peppers! They makes the soup even sweeter. I chop up the peppers put them in a large pan or soup pot and pop a lid on top for the first ten to fifteen minutes to soften it up, stirring occasionally. I then take the lid off and fry until they are caramelising. Everything is better caramelised. Right? You can add some red onion too if you like.

4. optional extras

For this soup I added some red lentils. Fresh herbs are also a goody

Then blend it up. As smooth or as chunky as you like. Add some final seasoning to taste. Serve with a rustic loaf or even better a toasted cheese sandwich.

Do you have any special tips for a good tomato soup? You know what to do …

read ‘em and eat

kranz dal ciocolato from Dal Mas Pasticerria in Venice

This week was mostly about working at my new job. I am working some extra hours to start as some things need to get done before the kids roll in on Tuesday. It is really great been back in an environment where I actually get to speak to people every day (Tim aside). I am looking forward to getting into more of a routine though once the school year relaxes into ‘normality’ (whatever that is).

Yesterday we went to the Venice Film Festival which is where this breakfast shot is taken. Need to work on food photography that is taken while eaten while walking to catch a waterbus.

_______________________

READ ‘EM >>>

No ‘real’ reading this week. Hopefully I will get back into my Gabriel Garcia Marquez book this week.

EAT >>>

Generally the first thing I know do when I arrive in Venice (okay this is only the second time I have done it, but still) is turn left out the station, walk for about 5 minutes and on your right you will find a, likely busy, Pasticerria called Dal Mas. Inside order a kranz dal ciocolato. You pay by weight and it is a little pricey. One of these bad boys rocks in at about €4.50 to €5.00 but they are good! Like seriously good. We ate ours at the Vaperetto stop waiting for a waterbus to the LIdo before 10 in the morning and it did keep me going until we had dinner at 7pm.

a-week-in-the-life-of-a-vegetarian-mycreative

I saw a post over on ‘Cookies and Kate’ about what she eats in a week as a (mostly) vegetarian. I am pretty nosy and intrigued by what people eat and thought that others might be too so I thought I’d share a week in my ‘kitchen’.

I have been vegetarian for almost nine years now. I’d never been a big meat eater but when I moved to London I realised that being vegetarian was actually a thing. When I studied my degree in Environmental Studies the environmental benefits of a mostly plant based diet were solidified in me.

With a move to Italy I have lost out on a lot of the convenience vegetarian foods you have in London and have had to adjust to that. Also I am now not so strict about ‘vegetarian cheese’. The items in stores just aren’t labelled like they are in England.

Also after 8 years of not buying leather shoes I have given in slightly. I am just tired of not having comfortable shoes that last. Sadly, as much as I eye out leather tote bags I don’t feel they are essential and will not be buying one. I hope one day I might come across a beautiful second hand one though.

Here is what I ate a couple weeks back. I think generally since the move to Italy my cooking is a lot more homemade and colour is a big player, although I kind of had a lazy week in the cooking department. I am also trying to eat healthier but my snacks are definitely still an area to work on. I tried to take pictures of all my meals but I am afraid they didn’t all make the cut or were forgotten. But you get an idea from those above.

Monday

Breakfast | fruit salad with banana, pear, nectarine, greek yoghurt and hazelnuts (I think they are my new favourite)

Lunch | salad with half and avocado, couple sliced radishes and couple spoons of cannelini beans. I also had a small chunk of baguette left over from the weekend.

Dinner | a light spring mac and cheese.

Snacks | a few too many tastings of carrot cake that a friend was experimenting with.

Tuesday

Breakfast | vegan nutty apple fritters

Lunch | left-over half apple from breakfast, salad with beetroot, cannelini beans, grated carrot and two artichoke hearts (from the jar), plus a piece of Slovenian smoked cheese.

Dinner | veggie burger topped with beetroot and a tomato salad side. We don’t eat these often as the veggie burgers cost twice as much here as they do in London.

Snacks | dark chocolate topped rice cakes. I would have stopped at three but Tim took so long to come home I ate six! Once a bag of something is open in the house it is dangerous.

Wednesday

Breakfast | strawberries, nectarine, greek yoghurt and left over raspberry coulis

Lunch | ricotta, tomato salad and herbed warm spelt flat-bread. Seriously this is like heaven in your mouth.

Dinner | Tim tutors and only gets late home on Wednesdays. I made another lazy meal which still needs work. Corn and zucchini fritters made with chickpea flour. Not even anything with it! But at least they are vegetables inside.

Snacks | I found the biscuits in the cupboard that a friend had brought over on the weekend. Oops. One too many of those.

Thursday

Breakfast | I had a craving for peanut butter. Vegan pancake for one with peanut butter and banana on top.

Lunch | half avocado, handful of radishes and some more spelt flat-bread.

Dinner | polenta (made it too runny, oops), with a bean, tomato, zucchini ‘sauce’.

Friday

Breakfast | oats with a grated apple and almond milk

Lunch | left over beans and veg from last night

Dinner | half a mushroom pizza (Roman style pizza which is a thinner base) and then a scoop of gelato for dessert

Snacks | 2 nectarines.

Evening | Went out for drinks with friends. Had 2 prosecci and some snacks at the bar. Apertivos are supposed to be before dinner but you get snacks in the bars with your drink: crisps, bread sticks, sundried tomatoes, cucumber, nuts etc.

Saturday

Breakfast | A pancake is sometimes the perfect carrier for jam. It is just like eating toast and jam, no?

Lunch | A sandwich from a coffee shop – brown bread with grilled vegetables and cheese

Dinner | Store bought mushroom ravioli with tomato sauce (‘home made’ with can of tinned cherry tomatoes, garlic and a spoon of red pesto) and peas. This is my version of super lazy food.

Snacks | Afternoon apertivos (mini gherkins, sundried tomatoes, pickled onions and tomato, crisps and prosecco of course

Sunday I totally forgot to take note or capture anything. I think it was pretty much a repeat of Saturday except I probably had some cereal for breakfast.

So what do you think. Are your eating habits similar? Anything you are going to try? Why don’t you share what you eat. I’d love to find out.

vegan-nutty-apple-fritters-1-mycreative vegan-nutty-apple-fritters-2-mycreative vegan-nutty-apple-fritters-3-mycreative vegan-nutty-apple-fritters-4-mycreative Breakfast is not a big deal in Italy but it is definitely still a big deal for me. Without the luscious options for eating brunch out (as there are in London) it means that I am extra keen to experiment a bit more with what I make for breakfast at home. I love my pancakes and this is just a slight change from those but different enough for something different on my plate. I am also trying to reduce my carb intake at home so I don’t feel guilty when I go out and eat a pizza, so have been replacing some flour with ground nuts. I know the calories in nuts are higher than flour but it is that so called ‘good’ fat right? Plus it adds some extra protein.

vegan nutty apple fritters

makes 3 fritters

Ingredients

  • half an apple, grated (I used a pink lady. A sweet apple is best so you don’t need other sweeteners)
  • 1.5 tsp ground nuts (I used 1 tsp almonds and 0.5 tsp hazelnut)
  • 2 tsp spelt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • tiny pinch salt
  • drop of almond milk (or other dairy free alternative)
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. combine the flour, ground nuts, salt, and baking soda.
  2. mix in the apple until it is covered
  3. squeeze in lemon and slowly add milk until the mixture is barely coming together. This isn’t going to hold together but that is okay.
  4. melt some coconut oil in a pan and make three circles with the batter.
  5. cook on side one for a few minutes and then gently flip and repeat on the other side.

Serve with a berry coulis made by taking 1 cup frozen raspberries, a dash of water, a tablespoon of rice syrup and a tablespoon of sugar (addition of sweeteners depends how sweet your raspberries are). Stir on the stove top on gentle heat until the berries have ‘come apart’. This makes enough for some extra. Great on some greek yoghurt or tomorrow’s fritters.

I like to layer the fritters with some coulis between the layers and a whole heap on top so it feels like I am eating a mini-cake!

You can also find some of my previous vegan recipes hanging about including brownies that become milk shake and this hot chocolate.

eat | asparagus

asparagus-1-mycreative asparagus-5-mycreative asparagus-4-mycreative asparagus3-mycreative

One of my favourite parts of spring is that it is asparagus season. It is a weird sort of vegetable but its vivid green and crunchy brilliance which requires so little to make it delicious is perfectly spring. There are so many more varieties of asparagus in Italy I am quite intrigued. There are a variety of thicknesses and sizes and then of course white asparagus too. I have memories of the horrid canned wormy version of this as a child but I thought that I should experiment with these too, although I have yet to brave it.

One of my random ‘goals’ has been to eat as much asparagus as possible before the season ends.

This is what has been appearing in my kitchen:

>>> an Italian abundance bowl with cannellini beans and oven roasted tomatoes

>>> inspired by Joy the Baker’s asparagus and pistachio dish I made a heartier warm salad with asparagus, lentils, peas, hazelnuts and feta which I have to say tasted freaking amazing!

>>> Tania’s lentil falafel with a side of lightly fried skinny asparagus.

>>> And a quick and light seasonal mac and cheese.

springtime mac and cheese

Ingredients

This is roughly how much I use per person, just add for each person you are cooking for.

  • 50g dry pasta, I use a penne made with 25% vegetables but whatever you prefer.
  • 150g asparagus
  • 60g peas, frozen
  • scoop of ricotta
  • teaspoon of pesto
  • olive oil for cooking
  • additional seasoning as you like

Method: Get some water boiling and throw in the pasta. Once the pasta is in throw in the chopped asparagus into a pan and lightly fry to your preferred texture (I like mine with slightly al dente). When the pasta is almost done throw in the frozen peas. Drain peas and pasta, add cooked asparagus and then stir through ricotta, pesto and seasoning. Boom meal done in the time it takes to cook pasta.

Have you made any different asparagus dishes lately? Any new or old favourites?