Restaurant Hopping in Lecce – Italy

So, if you find yourself in Lecce and need to eat… you have many choices. Since none will tell you the truth about which restaurants are good or not, we will!!

Avoid rooftop restaurant at Risorgimento Resort hotel. Food is mediocre at best and expensive.  Service was ok. So instead go up there for drinks, desert and the view.  Food was so bad that I actually got sick from it.  We loved the view, but regretted having dinner there. 

 
Take a chance at Nonna Tetti. Cute little restaurant in home cooking style. Food is great, relatively cheap but… ignore the rude staff if you can. Tell yourself you are here just for the food.  The pasta sagne was especially delicious!!  Make sure to order the house starter plates; they are small plates of side dishes like fried eggplants, pickles, beets and other yummies. 

Best place we had dinner at was Blu Notte! Everything we had was fresh, delicious, and memorable. We had pasta, fish, octopus, muscles, and desert. It is not cheap but not too expensive either.  Staff was well trained, friendly and efficient.  You might also get lucky and find a table without reservation, like we did. We recommend that you don’t take the risk and make a reservation.

 
 

Maybe you are wondering about paninis, sweets, and gelato — well, come back another day for our special focus on these dolci!!

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Nuts about anything COCONUT!

Ok, finally I decided to write about my obsession with anything coconut. Have always really liked coconut, but about few years ago got more serious as I learned more about the healthy benefits of coconut.

Coconut is another miracle of nature that is yummy and smells amazing. So many uses for this amazing nut – hard not to love it.

Coconut Juice and Flesh
Best way to experience this is to have fresh coconuts. I will never forget the coconuts in Thailand. Last year, during our trip to Thailand coconut juice became our official drink. We were delighted to also discover we could scrape and eat the flesh. Coconut juice is more hydrating than water.
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Coconut Flakes
Coconut flakes come in various shapes and sizes. Most common use is in baking. I love the large hefty flakes that I can crunch and taste the coconut flavor. I use them in the mornings: little yogurt, blueberries, and coconut flakes!
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Coconut Butter
Warning – if you read beyond this section we will not be responsible for your coconut addiction.

Coconut butter is great for cooking, baking, or just as a spread on a piece of good bread. BUT mixing couple spoonfuls mixed with dark cocoa powder makes the best impromptu desert!!
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Coconut Oil
Yes, you can cook with it. BUT even more importantly you can use it for your skin and hair. I am close to ditching my body lotion altogether and completely switch over to coconut oil. It is important to emphasize you should use organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil. If your hair is too fine you may not want to use it besides as a mask to nourish the hair. But if you are sporting a bushy lush head of hair – your hair will love you for using coconut oil.
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Btw – if you live in a cold climate the coconut oil will naturally solidify, that does not mean it is bad. This is normal, it will easily turn liquid with a bit of warmth.

How do you enjoy your coconut ??

Profiterol from scratch!

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As like me do you think it’s very hard or impossible to make this delicious filled puffs called profiterol because at Istanbul at Inci Profiterol I ate many times this delicious profiterols and every time I ate them I think they are the best profiterols around the world! but when I ask myself how can I make them or at least is it possible to make them at home? The answer was Oh impossible!

Until I tried to make them from scratch very surprisingly  they were very easy to make and this one is guaranteed recipe. When I was serving this to my family and friends always asking me where I bought them but the truth is I made them at home! even still I can’t believe that I can make them at home from scratch.

So here it’s the recipe for you to try and see!

For Puffs

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 -1/4 cups flour

4 large eggs at room temperature

For Filling

1- 1/2 cups heavy cream or whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix

For Chocolate

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbs flour

1 tbs full cocoa powder

1 cup milk

Chocolate

Put all ingredients in pan stir occasionally, boil (3-5 min.)until it gets thick.

Fillig
Stir all ingredients together until you have thick filling.

Let it set 1 hour in refrigerator or you can prepare it one night before.

The Puffs

preheat oven 200 degrees.

Combine water, butter and salt in medium pan heat until butter melted.

Bring to rolling boil.

Add flour all at once stirring vigorously until smothes out and flows the spoon around pan. (this should take less than 30 seconds)

Remove it from heat cool it 5-10 min. it should be lukewarm.

With mixer beat the eggs one at a time in lukewarm mixture after adding the last egg continue beating 1 minute more.

Take 1 teaspoon full of the dough and drop it on parchment papered pans leave 1 inch between the puffs.

bake them 20 min. when they turn medium golden brown.

Remove them and cut a slit into the sides of puffs.

Return them to oven cook them 5 min. more.

Remove them and let them cool on a rack.

Gently open each puff alone natural fault line.

Fill bottom with 2 teaspoons of filling and replace with the top half.

Put all filled puffs on serving plate pour the chocolate on top put it in refrigerator.

Enjoy with loved ones !

I think it will be your one of the best loved recipe!

Halka ‘Open Sesame’ Cookies

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Wanted to introduce this simple cookie to you. I had it for the first time when I was visiting family in Istanbul last week.

The origin of the cookie is from Syria and this maybe an adaptation, since I never had the original I cannot tell. It is light and delicious with coffee or tea. Very used to seeing sesame used in savory cooking and baking, and this is great use of sesame in baking sweets.

Ingredients:

  • 3 organic eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup roasted sesame
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1 packet of vanilla powder (dr.oetker)
  • 1 packet of baking powder (dr.oetker)
  • flour – use as much as it takes to attain earlobe firm dough

Step 1:
Dry roasting the unshelled sesame: you can also use shelled ones if you like, but process stays the same. Roast till you smell the sesame (barely 2 minutes or more depending on your stove) – then set aside to cool.
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Step 2:
Mix the egg and sugar – whisk well.
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Step 3:
Add the semolina, vanilla, the baking powder, and mix well.
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Next add the sesame and mix it well. Then start adding the flour slowly and keep checking for firmness. It should not be firmer than your earlobe; stop adding flour when you reach that point.
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This is what the dough looks like when everything is done:
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Step 4:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the baking sheets. Start forming little circles ‘halka’ and place then on the baking sheets. You can make them large small or any size you like. Optional: brush the tops with eggwash. We did for most but tried a few without and they were just as good. Bake until golden in color; take out and let cool before serving.
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Hope you enjoy this delicious sesame cookie as much as we do!
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Gingerly Talk

How about to putting some ginger in your life? This wonder spice has time-tested digestion-friendly properties. Especially during winter I like to use dryed or fresh ginger in my soups or my black or green teas a lot both were good for battling cold and flu leaving you with warm feeling.

We find this ginger candy very handy when we are on the go it works wonders you can just eat it as candy or boil some water and make some hearty tea that will warms you up instantly. Image Fresh ginger is a root and can be found in many markets. Always buy a light and plump piece; if its shriveled it is not as fresh. It is also great for use in cooking and steeping fresh ginger tea. For example a simple ginger garlic shrimp dish is out of this world!!
20130303-111424.jpgPeel it, then slice or grate based on your preference. Ginger is naturally fibrous and as you cut into it it should be juicy not dry. Since ginger is quite potent a little bit goes a long way. Ginger is an acquired taste. Best way to introduce it to your family’s diet maybe baking candied ginger into cakes and muffins.
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Let’s talk ginger – how do you use it??

Thai Food: pictures tell all !

20130127-111010.jpgSo far we have sampled a wide variety of Thai foods. From fancy restaurants to street vendors… pictures tell our food journey. And no we did not get sick by eating street foods so far.

Last night we ate a churro like dessert from the sidewalk vendor at the Phuket night market. After deep frying it in age old oil, they sprinkle it with strawberry or chocolate powder, or just sugar. Simply delicious!

Lunch spread at the Phangnga area Muslim village:
This was a Muslim community completely living on water. They cooked, dried, grounded, preserved all sorts of foods.
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Fruits have been the highlight – fresh and wonderful to eat anytime:
20130127-111547.jpgFruit shaped and colored sweets at night market:20130127-111958.jpg
Try it all and don’t look back is our current motto. Bon Apetit!!

Food & Culture Hunt at Khao Lak

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We took a short trip to Khao Lak center to check out the food and shopping scene. It is a long strip lined on both sides of the street with restaurants, and shops. This area was devastated by the Tsunami and one can still see the damage and people trying to recover. Very humbling to be here and be at Thai people’s hospitality.

Shops are not that interesting as they are filled with chackies, nick nacks, and knock off designer bags and clothing. But the scene is colorful. Tip: go in the late afternoon, it is cooler and there will be more restaurants that are open.

Hand carved soaps:
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Things that crack you up:
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And of course McDonalds: as disappointing to see, but also it is funny…
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Lunch at a sidewalk restaurant: morning glory veggies and spicy seafood dish (remember to ask for the rice). Fresh black and green peppercorns were the hit of the dish! 4 people, 4 dishes, 1 large beer, 1 fresh coconut juice = 700 baht ($23.54).
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Per G’s friend Iris from Taiwan, we stopped at a 7eleven to look for ‘birds nest drink and seaweed snacks’. We found both and more to try:
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Birds Nest and Collagen Drink: we drank both right away… both are made from some fruits, no added sugar. We suspect we would have to drink a whole bunch to see any effect. Was so fun and surprising to try them.
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