Start to Taste with Your Eyes…

At first I want to introduce you all not only to my style of writing, but my love for photographing food. Through this post and my photographs I am hoping you will all sneak a peek into the kinds of things I love! There are many things that I love, and I cannot really rank them so  for the purpose of this blog, I am dedicating it to the good foods I have cooked! Most of what you see in this post, will be accompanied with a recipe in the future. However, other items mentioned, you will have to just enjoy with your eyes!

So let’s begin with a little taste of just one of my homelands, Italy!

What’s green and fragrant, and tastes exactly the way it smells? BASIL. If I could, I would include basil into every meal I make. It’s beautiful green leaves bring a smile across my face. Not only is it gorgeous, but it’s ability to spice up a dish, without being overpowering, is a god send! There is nothing worse than an overpowering herb, spice or ingredient to ruin a dish. So, because basil is so fabulous, it’s best match, Pesto, is the first item on today’s menu.

nutty, salty, cheese, pesto!

nutty, salty, cheesy, pesto!

My parents are famous for their pesto, and they are who I credit my recipe to. Usually I would keep the recipe under wraps, but why waste this taste!? Soon I will share it with my bloggers!

Let’s move on to another delicious treat on today’s menu, Bruschetta. This amazing italian treat is pronounced in so many different ways, but no matter how it rolls off your tongue, who does not get excited when they see this beautiful red and green pairing on a plate!

bruschetta on homemade garlic and onion crostini

bruschetta on homemade garlic and onion crostini

Sticking with the Italian theme, my bruschetta will melt in your mouth. And speaking of melt, don’t forget to eat it quickly, the fresher the better, as the delicious juices of the marinade, and tomatoes can seep into the crostini and leave it in a mush! Some may say, isn’t it just throwing together some tomatoes and basil and bread? It is actually so much more than that! That will actually be a constant theme here. Cooking requires passion and desire for the most perfect outcome. That is why you would not just say tomato, basil and bread. Instead, these toasted bread boats, keeping their tomato partners afloat are actually the most to die for crostini! With a bite, and crunch, these perfectly plump tomatoes meet your tastebuds, and you will never make another type of bruschetta again (orrr pick up the store-bought version… shame on you! 🙂 ). Have a passion in your wrist as you cut, chop, saute, or dig in to your plate!

My parents taught me about finding my passion, and how can I forget what else through them I have learned to perfect, the gravy, or shall I say, tomato sauce! Tomato sauce may, like bruschetta, seem very easy to make, but without careful attention to the hidden details, it could be a disaster.

a classic italian treat.

a classic italian treat.

No fear, disaster can be averted by putting that passion right into your pasta! If you devote enough time to learning the craft of making a good sauce, soon enough you will be able to snap your fingers and create a sauce that will make people keep coming back for more! This recipe is simple, but remember, pay attention to the details and then your parmigiano reggiano or your locattelli will be dying to be sprinkled across the plate!

Classic italian food, and also the hidden gems that I have had the pleasure to make, could take up pages and pages of this blog, and they will, but, not at this moment. So, what is the best way to finish off a taste trip of Italy? Homemade cannoli of course! There is a crunch, then there is a marrying of the sweetest, yet tangiest tastes in the world, and you have entered Italian dessert heaven!

how can you resist these mini cannoli?

how can you resist these mini cannoli?

But really? How can you resist these mini treats? Even if you used all of your will power, you really cannot just eat one!

Imagine yourself hopping on a plane and traveling from Italy to the Middle East… you land, and you are starving! What will you want to eat!? Well, I am 50% Palestinian/Lebanese, and what I am most excited about with this blog, is having the ability to share with the world my family’s phenomenal Middle Eastern treats! Let’s start by showing off two devourable dips, hummus and baba ghanoush. They share one ingredient, tahini, and yes, you can make them into a happy duo on any table, but they each sing their own original song in your mouth.

hummus, simple but satisfying!

hummus, simple but satisfying!

Hummus is a college staple. When I bring hummus back to my dorm, it is gone before you know it! It is a simple dip, whose flavor and texture just cannot be hated, works with chips, pretzels, and of course pita bread! It is so multipurpose and delicious. The recipe I will post comes straight from Palestine by way of my Great Aunt Tita. She is actually the source of all things Middle Eastern in our family, and without her, my taste palate (and soon yours!) would be lacking!

an eggplant's match made in heaven!

an eggplant's match made in heaven!

To make tahini  a little more complex, take a chance with baba ghanoush. It is smokey, sweet, salty, and incredibly addicting. It also is a perfect dip for anything and anyone! The texture may bother you at first, because the eggplant does get stringy, but when properly prepared, it is one of the most original dips there is!

Another fresh and fabulous Middle Eastern dish is Fattoush salad. When I say that there is literally no way to prepare for how delicious this simple salad is, I am being very serious! How does this sound, a delicious mixture of lettuce, fresh cut vegetables, toasted pieces of pita bread broken into bite size pieces, all topped off with a sweet pomegranate dressing? Pomegranate suddenly became stylish and trendy several years ago, but this dressing is literally timeless. You will want to put it on everything from chicken to salmon (and I do!). This picture does not do the salad justice, but the tastes you will experience sure will!

you have never tasted a salad like this one!

you have never tasted a salad like this one!

As you incorporate the pomegranate syrup into the dressing and also add several complimentary flavors and spices, the salad becomes more than just meets the eye! In my very unscientific research, all visitors to my kitchen who claim that they “really are not a salad person” turn the corner into the world of  a Fattoush addiction as soon as their teeth start the first chew!

To complete this cultural journey, we will eat our last plateful of a Middle Eastern delicacy, the spinach pie! This is not spinach pie as many are familiar with the concept of spinach pie; a full pan in which slices are cut out. These are mini spinach pies, and after your third one you are lost in a world of flaky crust, perfectly flavored spinach, onions, and toasted pine nuts!

bite size spinach delights!

bite size spinach delights!

I have been shoveling these two bite appetizers since I was a baby. Everyone knows to watch their hands and feet when a hot plate of these minature gems comes out onto the serving table! They are literally gone in 60 seconds! And honestly, you may eat so many that you could spoil your dinner; I have done it may times! But their unbelievable taste makes it a no regret situation! Another great aspect of this dish is that they are so easy to put into a freezer bag and save for when you feel a craving coming on! All it takes is a quick trip in the toaster oven until they are warmed all the way through, and you have your spinach pies all ready. They are the perfect midnight snack!

I hope that everyone reading now has a grumbling stomach! That was my intention of this little taste journey, as well as this blog. It is my aim to open your eyes to the many easy, yet gourmet possibilities that are available in this world! It doesn’t take a mind like Emeril’s, or creativity as wide as Rachel Ray’s to keep your appetite fueled by delicious food. Don’t succumb to prepared foods and easy boxed dinners! We are better than that my little soon to be gourmet chefs! Don’t do the damage to your body, instead, read up and take risks in the kitchen! Soon, with my recipes and tips, you will have no need for a TV dinner, or a sad little bag of pretzels for lunch! There are better bites for you belly!

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