9. Mussels in a spicy tomato broth

Definitely ran into another roadblock as I was trying to upload my awesome picture of this appetizer from my menu! It wasn’t allowing me to upload! How frustrating right? Oh the joys of running a food blog! ¬†Especially when it worked all the other times. But it got fixed thank goodness!

You know one of the cool things about making a food blog is that you get forced (in such a good way!) to eat food that you might not usually eat often. For me, it’s mussels. I love them but always thought I could never afford to purchase them from a seafood store! I think I always thought they were really expensive, so I only order them when I’m out at a restaurant.¬†Surprisingly, they’re not expensive at all and you can get a lot of them for not that much, since they weigh next to nothing!

Take a look at this amazing dish. Amazing photography right? And it’s SO flavorful and rich, with a nice salty briny (fishy) taste! I bet it would go great with a nice bottle (i mean glass! ūüôā of white wine and a crostini.



What are your favorite seafood dishes??

Oh and since this is a test kitchen, I’ve come up with another appetizer that involves mussels. I’m going to try it out and post it in the next few days! Stay tuned.

Stay tuned for the recipe as well. Making some final touches on it.

Share with your friends, family and tell me what you’re favorite seafood dishes are!


8. Italian French Fries with Rosemary Aioli

Who knew that french fries could be so difficult? I had the hardest time taking a good picture of these things! Nevertheless, I found a way to show the yumminess of these fries. Everything is homemade, including the aioli, which was indeed my first time making it.

French fries make me happy though. I usually always order them if I go out for happy hour or if there’s a bar menu. It’s always exciting to see what kind of aioli restaurants and cooks come up with to pair with fries. I’ve seen all kinds: saffron, truffle, rosemary, anchovy (yes, from the little smelly fish anchovies!) and spicy. I love them all! You can also use aioli for sandwiches instead of plain mustard or mayonnaise. And making it from scratch is kinda exciting! Eggs and oil, simple as that. I’m not sure though how the store bought mayonnaise is so white! Every recipe I’ve seen gives it a yellowish tint from the egg yolk, unless your adding a ton¬† of olive oil…. hmm.. Mysterious!



What I learned is to cut the potatoes the long way into semi-thin slices, then stack them on each other and cut into fries. I like leaving the skin on, it adds more flavor! I deep fried these in oil and then dressed them up with Italian seasoning, swiss cheese, salt/pepper and  drizzled the aioli ( 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil very slowly added as your beating the eggs on pretty high speed. You can add 1 tsp. of garlic and cayenne or more to taste!) on top.


4 appetizers down, just a few more to go! Then we move onto Salads, then soups, then entrees and finally desserts!


7. Citrus Marinated Olives

To be honest, I’m not a fan of olives! I’d eat them if I had to, but I’m not crazy about them. Being a chef though, you’ve got to remember that it’s about the people’s likes, not yours! Olives are¬†extremely¬†vital to Italian¬†cuisine.. hmm I wonder why?? Haha.

This appetizer off of my menu combines salty, briny¬†Sicilian Green olives with ¬†garlic, citrus (oranges), olive oil, peppers with a dash of cumin and parsley. ¬†It’s got an interesting taste, maybe one that needs to be¬†acquired, especially if your not an “olive” type of person. I imagine they would go great with a cold dirty (or clean, since you’re eating olives!) martini.



The idea here is to let them marinate obviously. If you’re planning on eating them the same day, leave them out at room temp. for 2-3 hours in the marinade. If you need them tomorrow or another day, put in them in a container, covered and chill for up to 4-5 days. I assume the longer you marinate them, the better they are!

Take 1 Cup of Sicilan Green Olives (like from an olive bar at a local grocery store)

3/4 cup. Olive oil

1 Orange, cut up into slices (plus save the rind for zesting)

1/2 tsp. cumin and parsley (each)

A few julienned slices (cut into long thin strips) of red  pepper

A few julienned slices of banana pepper

4 tsp. minced garlic

Cooking on low heat, put everything except the oranges and olives in a pan for 16 minutes, letting the mixture become aromatic and stirring occasionally. Pour the olives in a bowl and put a few slices of the orange in it as well. Set aside and let those marry! Once the olive oil mixture is cooked, let that sit for 30 minutes and pour that over the olives/oranges. Zest the rind of the unused orange over the olives and either let sit for 2-3 hours or cover and chill for up to 5 days. Grab a martini and enjoy!

6. Potato and Ricotta Ravioli

Another one bites the dust! Today we have an interesting twist on an Italian dish from my menu. This recipe came from a food competition I entered on Food.com called the “Five Ingredient Fix”. The contest entails that I had to create a recipe using 5 ingredients (I’m sure you figured that out lol) that had to include mashed or shredded potatoes. Interesting right? Not to mention challenging.

So I thought, why not just add mashed flavored potatoes to the already¬†traditional¬†ricotta filling in most raviolis? Although I haven’t found out if my recipe is a winner according to them, it’s a winner in my book and if you dare to try it, probably in your’s too! It’s different, interesting and¬†surprisingly¬†very good. ¬†I have this as an appetizer on my menu, but it definitely could be an entree too! I made the filling mix (not the ricotta and¬†potatoes¬†separately) and¬†pasta from scratch (true story!) If you dare.. give it a shot! It turned out for me, and I can’t tell you how impressed I was as I was doing it, thinking “wow, look at this, I can’t believe it’s working!” because by the way, I’ve NEVER made homemade pasta before in my life! ¬†Check out some of the pictures I captured during the different stages of this dish.

These are the essential ingredients needed to make pasta for 2 people:

2 Egg yolks, 1/4 c. water (maybe more), 1 1/4 c. flour and 3/4 tsp. salt


Put the flour in a bowl and make a “well” in the middle. ¬†Next, add the egg, water, salt and mix! Add more water if necessary and you’ll get this eventually:



It’ll be sticky, so flour a counter top/board right away and start kneading for at least 10 minutes. Consider it your workout for the day! You’ll want it to look like this: ¬†Nice and smooth and elastic



Next, rub some olive oil on the top and  let it sit for 10 minutes. You can start with your ricotta and potato mix at this point. To serve two people,  just take 1/2 cup of ricotta and 1/2 cup cooked, flavored mashed potatoes, pinch of salt/pepper and mix together. Set aside.

Then roll out your pasta dough, flat, flat, paper thin flat, until it looks like this: (Try to make it as square as possible, I wasn’t as successful at that!)



Cut into 2 inch strips, take the filling and in small amounts spoon it on one strip 2 inches apart (they should be in the middle of the strip, not spilling over the edge!) Get some water and brush the edges of the strip with the filling on it to create a seal and take the identical, clean strip and place over the strip with the filling on it, pressing down on the edges to seal them shut. Cut the strip into individual raviolis.

Put into a boiling pot water that’s salted and has 1 tbsp of oil in it, cooking for 6-7 min. Drain the pasta from the water and top with pesto, tomato sauce, cheese.. whatever you’d like! ¬†Here’s how mine turned out:



Delicious right? Well, thanks for reading, 2 down, 28 more to go! Sign up for email updates and share with your friends/family!

5. Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus

Well, I did it! The first of many challenges. Today we have a delicious appetizer from my menu: pancetta wrapped asparagus with a fried egg and a delicious, creamy hollandaise sauce. It was delicious. I was very proud of myself! I’ll let the pictures do the 1,000 word speaking!





I have to admit, I was super nervous this morning when I was thinking about how to prepare it, plate it and if the pictures would turn out good! Whew! Glad there wasn’t much to worry about. ¬†This all in all, was a fairly easy dish to make and it turned out beautifully right? The recipe for this was pretty simple as you’ll see.

First, I took the asparagus and washed them. I cut off the ends, grouped them in “4’s” ¬†and set them aside. Next, I took the pancetta (2 slices for each group) and wrapped it around each group of four. I sprinkled each group with olive oil, salt and pepper, put it on a cookie sheet and into the oven at 400 degrees for approx 30 min.

Next, I made my version of hollandaise sauce. You’ll need (for 1 cup serving) 3 egg yolks, dash of salt, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, 1 tsp of cumin (gives it a savory and nutty flavor), 1 tsp of¬†cayenne¬†pepper (more if you like spicy!) and 1/2 a cup of melted, hot butter. ¬†Start by pulsing the eggs, orange juice, cumin and cayenne with a hand held mixer for 30-35 seconds. Slowly add the butter; you’ll start seeing the sauce thicken and get creamy. Once all the butter is added, set sauce aside.

Finally, I made the egg. Here’s a nice tip: cook the egg on medium low in vegetable oil and spoon the oil in the pan over the yolk and whites and you’ll get a nice shiny yolk and firm white area, which makes it look great and easy to handle. ¬†Then just assemble how you want to!

That’s it! Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus.¬†Tell me what you think of it! Leave a comment, share with your friends/family and for once, try this at home!¬†

4. Get ready!

The next time I post something, It’ll be my first of many conquests of creatively executing my awesome menu for my future restaurant, food truck or culinary job! There are 30 items on my menu. This venture will not be a quick one, no sireeee. I’ll post my successes and failures; I’ll share my joys and frustrations as I do this challenge and the cool thing is that when I finally ¬†post my tried and tested concoction on here, you’ll know it’s the real deal!

I should tell you that my favorite¬†type of food is Italian! I fell in love with this cuisine when I worked in a very nice Italian restaurant as a busser, food runner and wait assistant. I got to be in the front lines, seeing the chef’s prepare delicious ¬†dishes and learning about the culture and culinary finesse of Italian food and wine.

Here’s a taste of what foods I’ll attempt to be making on this blog: appetizers like calamari fritti with chipotle aioli and lamb meatballs with a tangy yogurt sauce to fried quail with cranberry demi-glace and much more! I have some cool, creative salads on the menu like kale with mangoes to a¬†traditional¬†Italian caprese with tangy and sweet balsamic vinegar and much more. We have some yummy and hearty soups on the menu like gazpacho-with a twist, fagiolo and Italian! Our entrees (which will be the most challenging I feel) include eggplant orzo, gorgonzola lamb chops, homemade gnocchi in a burre blanc sauce, pan seared sea bass in a delicious spicy tomato sauce and more! Finally, some of the desserts (the best part of the meal right?) ¬†I’ll make will be cheddar souffle with apples, bourbon and sugar, tiramisu with coffee and rum, cassata siciliana (an¬†Italian¬†cake) and more!

I hope this menu sounds good to you! I’m getting hungry just typing this out. I’m excited about all of this and will see you all in Italy! (figuratively speaking of course).

Thanks for reading! Share this blog with your friends and sign up for email updates!

3. It’s time to open up!

Some people have asked me why I’m really doing this blog. Fair question. Other than the quest of culinary adventure, which is what this blog will¬†definitely¬†showcase, I also see it as a way to express myself in ways that I know I’m not always good at. I consider myself to be a social person, but not always an open person. Sound confusing? Understood. Being social and being open about yourself are different things. I’ve just always been a closed person about my “personal secrets” (don’t worry, no bad or illegal ones!).

This blog will allow me to showcase my cooking, allow myself to open up through food and writing that is sometimes harder in person. Food just has that magic.. it does a lot of things: ¬†Gets people talking, brings people together and really is the way to a man’s heart!

*Oh, You know that menu I created with my culinary creativeness? The thing I’m basing this whole blog off of? Well, the exciting part of this food journey that I’m going on with my menu, ¬†is that I will be creating recipes from scratch! Yea, you heard it! How can I be a chef without learning how to do this?¬†

It’s easy to put macaroni & cheese on a menu right? But how to make that with the right ingredients and their amounts is the tricky part and that’s what I’ll be doing here! ¬†Rest assured, when I publish a recipe on here, I’ve tested it with myself and my friends, so I¬†won’t¬†destroy your food¬†palate.¬† See where the “journey” and “test” part come in now?

Get ready for a trip down Food Lane! My next post will be Saturday.

Thanks to you all for reading this! Please leave nice comments and share with your friends!