“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Quoted from John Lennon
I have learned how to make some absolutely amazing meals during my semester studying abroad in Florence at Apicius International school of Hospitality. Each day in class we have a focus and make three to four different dishes to go along with the daily theme. The other students and I always clamber over each other to take photos of our beautiful finished products before practically licking the plates clean. Over time, I have accumulated so many photos that I decided why not share these creations on the yum project! This will give you an idea of what I have been up to in the last four months.
Minute steak Dijonaise- my favorite dish of the entire semester by far. The meal is very simple to prepare and is sure to be a crowd pleaser- saute onions in a pan, coat one side of the steak in a thin layer of dijon mustard and the other side in whole grain mustard. Once the onions are softened, grill the steak on each side for just a minute or two. (hence the name) After removing the meat from the pan, add a dash of cream to the remaining bits to create a flavorful sauce.
Tagliata con rucola e parmigiano- Florentines like their meat very rare, something I am working to get used to. This large steak was grilled and sliced thinly before being laid over a bed of arugula and topped with shaved parmesan and pepper.
Beef stew with olive oil and rosemary potatoes- A classic dish. Chuck steak slowly simmered in beef stock and red wine with onions. The potatoes were a nice addition, they were blended with olive oil and fresh herbs instead of cr
For some reason lately I have been obsessed with seafood. I think it is because there is this amazing store on the first floor of the building of my internship (Chelsea Market) called “The Lobster Place” This store is phenomenal! Not only is it a gigantic fish market that offers every seafood imaginable, but the store also sells prepared foods. For example, you can walk passed rows of brightly colored tuna steaks and twenty pound salmons to go right up to chefs preparing fresh sushi from that day’s catch. In the back of the store there lies a mountain of freshly steamed lobsters of which you can take your pick to have disembodied in front of you and served with a large bowl of drawn butter. Next to that counter is a row of every type of fish chowder you can imagine and a little window from which you can order a range of “rolls” from tarragon shrimp rolls to lemony lobster rolls and more. I love the idea that a market combined itself with a ready to go style restaurant. I know that when I go there I am getting the freshest options available.
Anyway, I blame The lobster Place for my incessant seafood cravings. Last weekend two of my roommates were busy and I was left for a night in the apartment with my other roommate Natasha. We decided to have a wonderful candlelit evening complete with white wine and a seafood stew. I was absolutely shocked at how well the meal turned out. I had never attempted anything of the sort before and was worried the meal would turn out very fishy, but it didn’t. The dish actually did end up different than I had originally envisioned, however it was even better so I didn’t mind. I was aiming to make a sort of steamed mussel dish in garlic, butter and wine, but instead made a brothy and diverse fish stew. I simmered many types of seafood, an entire bottle of wine, chicken stock, garlic and fresh herbs to create a heavenly flavor experience. There was only one issue, I panicked halfway through the cooking process when I tasted the broth and found it to be extremely bitter, almost acidic. I tried to remedy the issue by adding a dollop of crème fraiche, which helped significantly. However, as it turned out, the broth had only tasted of acid because the alcohol from the wine hadn’t fully cooked out yet, so by the time the dish was finished I was left with a light and delicate, multi-layered broth with an added depth from the touch of cream. Natasha loved it so much that she requested I make it for her birthday dinner in the spring. Along with the stew we made a side of roasted vegetables. We ate the leftovers the next night and it was equally as delicious. I was heartbroken when we reached the bottom of the pot.
I made this low calorie pizza hearty and satisfying by piling on the veggies and seasonings. I am obsessed with these whole-wheat wraps that I found at the grocery store because they are so versatile! I began with a wrap and then put on a thick layer of homemade tomato sauce. The sauce was extremely simple and quick to make. I merely sautéed sliced garlic and diced tomatoes with some olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and dried oregano. Next I topped the flatbread with very generous portions of sliced mushrooms and heaps of spinach. I finished off the flatbread with just a sprinkle of both mozzarella and parmesan cheese as well as a drizzle of basil pesto sauce. At first the flatbread looked anything but what its name entails since it was piled so high with voluminous spinach and multiple layers of mushrooms, but as the flatbread toasted, the veggies condensed and the bread became crispy. This dish rang in at under four hundred calories and it’s filled with tons of vitamins from the fresh vegetables. YUM.