The White

Remember last week when I told y’all all about my awful luck with restaurants staying in business and I shared one of my favorite places to eat in Athens {Georgia not Greece}? Well wouldn’t you know it…

Just kidding. They didn’t close. {Freaked you out there didn’t I, Mama?}

Oh man, now I’ve really jinxed it.

But really how could they with all the delicious things that have going on. Today’s recipe was inspired by my Mama’s favorite, the White Pizza. Being the queen of neutrals that she is, it really isn’t surprising that she’d go for the most monochromatic option, but what is surprising is how flavorful that sucker is! It’s strong on the garlic and has the perfect blend of melty cheeses and crisp, buttery focaccia.

Kiwi+Peach: The White

The White

The Mix
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 cloves of roasted garlic
1/2 tsp salt

The Assembly
2 large wedges of focaccia
4-5 fresh basil leaves, sliced
1/2 ball fresh buffalo mozzarella

In a medium sized bowl, mix the cheese, garlic, and salt together well.

Split your focaccia wedges down the middle to make two slices. {You know like for a sandwich.} Liberally spread the mix on both slices. Sprinkle the bottom slice with the basil strips and then cover with chunks of your mozzarella.

Pop everything in the oven on broil {or grill for y’all Kiwis} for about 5 minutes or until the mozzarella has melted. When its finished top it off and enjoy!

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Cinque Terre Food Guide

When we started planning this Tour of Italy, I knew that no trip would be complete for me without a visit to the Cinque Terre. It has been on my list since before study abroad 4+ years ago. When I was over here for study abroad, we had only four weekends free to travel wherever we wanted to. Obviously I had a list a mile long, but we had to choose carefully. In the end we opted to travel places that we thought we wouldn’t come back to on holiday. Since pretty much all of us had been to Italy before and we wanted to check different countries off our lists and since Italy is like tourist destination no. 1 in Europe, the Cinque Terre didn’t make the cut. {Ironically, the places that we did choose were Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, and Interlaken. Man, us Capital T’s–T stands for thrill– were adventurous.}

There as no way I was missing Cinque Terre this time around. I couldn’t wait to see those colorful little towns nestled into the sides of cliffs. I couldn’t wait to hike the famous Sentiero Azzuro. Most importantly thought, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some of that pesto! I mean, this is where pesto was invented, so you know it must be good.

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food GuideManarola

We stayed in Vernazza, so that is where we ate dinner most nights. I am sure there are delicious restaurants in each town, but this is where it made sense for us to eat.

The first place we hit was Taverna del Capitano. It is right there in the main square and while I was a bit worried it would cater to tourists, I was pleasantly surprised. As we sat there sipping our wine, we watched all the  neighborhood children running around playing as their parents stopped for a chat. Our waiter, an older man, was one of the most sarcastic, helpful, and hilarious waiters we had on the entire trip. He took the time to really explain what made the local delicacies special and then added that we should take our time, he had to be there until 11 anyway.  I went for the very local trofie al pesto. {Told you I couldn’t wait to try the pesto!} Trofie is a pasta made from chestnut flour that is pretty unique to that region. It’s simplistic, it’s rustic, and it’s so very, very tasty. The Kiwi ended up ordering the black seabream that came with a deliciously simplistic roasted tomato and homemade chips.

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide

On our last night, the Kiwi treated me to dinner at Belforte. The restaurant, which is in the old fort, is one of the nicest restaurants in town. We made a reservation a couple days before just to make sure we would have a table.  The views of the hills and the sun setting over the Mediterranean were just amazing. The staff, who speak perfect English by the way, made you feel like you were a part of their big happy family. Before the trip, I had read that it was one of the things you had to try in Liguria were the anchovies. While neither of us are huge anchovy fans, we decided that if they weren’t good here, they wouldn’t be good anywhere, so we took the plunge and ordered the mixed anchovy antipasti. Some were salted, some were fried, and some were marinated in lemon. It made a believer out of me. My favorite were the salted ones with the little banana peppers. For my main I had a delicious squid ink pasta with shrimp sauce which was better than I could ever have imagined. The Kiwi had a mixture of fried fish, prawns and a huge, spectacular-looking scampi. He says he’d go back. However, the rest of the the meal doesn’t hold a candle to dessert. Caramelized strawberries with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Enough said.

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food GuideKiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food GuideKiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide

other Cinque Terre tips

Check what sections of the Sentiero Azzuro are open before you head out to hike. At the moment only the Corniglia to Vernazza and the Vernazza to Monterosso sections are open. There is an alternative route from Manarola to Corniglia though, but it’s definitely a bit harder of a hike than the Trail No. 2. If hiking isn’t your thing though, you can also access the towns by train.

From my take on the towns, I would say that Riomaggiore and Monterosso are the most touristy. If you’re looking to really feel like part of the the town, stay in one of the three middle ones.

The Kiwi thinks that Corniglia would be a great lunch stop, but we can’t vouch for that. I can however vouch for their frozen yogurt. I have no idea what the name of this place was, but if you see a sign for frozen yogurt with fresh squeezed lemon juice, honey, and nuts, go there!

Linked with Travel Tuesdays

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Having spent pretty much my entire life in the world of education either as the daughter of a teacher, a student, or a teacher myself, August has always meant one thing–back to school. I know that lots of folks in other parts of the country don’t start back until September {or, you know, February if you’re in NZ}, but in Georgia, we go back in August.

Maybe y’all that go back in September have the right idea though. August is still summer! The weather is still beautiful and there are lots of beautiful summery fruits and veggies in season and just asking to be carefully crafted into the most perfect summer dinner.

But once we go back to school… there just isn’t time! Especially in those first couple of weeks. The trick, I’ve found, is to have a few super quick weeknight meals up your sleeve that you can make on auto pilot. So for all my teacher friends who are back in school here is one of those recipes. It’s a super quick and healthy alternative to eating out multiple nights a week and, let’s face it, much cheaper. If the carnivore in your house really needs some meat, you can always stir in some shredded rotisserie chicken.

Are you back in school yet? What are some of your go-to week night meals? Some of our other favorite quickies are the cashew chicken noodles, Greek couscous with zucchini, and of course, my summer favorite.

Kiwi+Peach: Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes

{adapted for two from Martha Stewart}

The Pasta
6 oz whole wheat rigatoni {or some other kind of tube pasta}
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
pinch of salt

The Sauce
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts {or sliced almonds}
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled {plus a bit more for the top}
8 or so fresh basil leaves
fresh ground black pepper

To get started prepping, heat a large pot on medium high heat and boil your jug. Slice your sun-dried tomatoes into thin strips.

Pour the boiled water into your pot and when it has returned to a boil, add the pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, and salt. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, according to the package directions {usually 8-10 minutes for the tube pasta}. When its finished, drain the water then return the pot to the heat. {Just leave the pasta and sun-dried tomatoes in the strainer for a minute. We’ll get back to that in a quick minute.}

Drizzle the olive oil in the pot and then add your minced garlic, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and stir continuously until the pine nuts have toasted a bit. Add the wine and let it cook until the wine has reduced by half. Grab your pasta and sun-dried tomatoes and pop it back to the pot. Add the goat cheese and basil then stir very well.

Plate up and then sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese, a few grinds of black pepper, and a couple basil leaves.

Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

Happy Friday friends! Sorry for the blog silence yesterday. It was a holiday here in Bavaria {these wonderful Catholics seem to have a holiday for everything!} and, while it was not my intention to take the day off, sometimes spending quality time with the Kiwi just trumps.

During our day off yesterday, I started reading Inferno. While the Kiwi has some strange hatred for Dan Brown books {despite having never picked up a singe one}, I quite like them, so I’m pretty excited to read this new one. I knew it was set in Florence, but man, its like I’m there again, except for the whole being on the run from an assassin. {That’s not a spoiler it’s on like page 2. Plus what else is Robert Langdon going to be doing? Sightseeing?} Really though, its making me miss Florence, Italian food, and wine. Mostly the wine…and the truffles.

Obviously this Tuscan salad was happening. I was inspired by a recipe one of my absolute favorite bloggers {seriously, Emily’s blog was what introduced me to this wonderful world of blogging} posted a long time ago.  We tweaked it a bit based on what we had on hand and some of the salads we had in Florence, but either way it is a phenomenal salad.

Kiwi+Peach: Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

{inspired by Emily from Jones Design Company}

The Prep
10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
1 bulb of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil

The Salad
150-200 grams {2 cups or so} of mixed greens, washed
8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced
10 fresh black olives, pitted
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, crumbled
1/4 of a small red onion, sliced

The Croutons
4 thick slices of ciabatta bread
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of roasted garlic, pureed
1/4 cup pine nuts

The Dressing
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. spicy dijon mustard
1/4 of a small red onion
1 clove of roasted garlic
3-4 leaves of fresh oregano
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil

First thing we have to do is put the tomatoes and the garlic on to roast. Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. For the roasted tomatoes, slice the tomatoes in half and in a large mixing bowl combine with olive oil, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix well and then put them on a lined baking tray.  For the roasted garlic, cut the garlic bulb straight across on the stem end. Set it root side down on a piece of tin foil and pour the olive over the top. Wrap it up in  the tin foil and place on the tray with the tomatoes. Pop them in the oven for an hour.

Go chill out for 45 minutes. Read Inferno, or I guess you could be productive. Anyway…

About 15 minutes before the tomatoes and garlic are finished, come on back to the kitchen and combine all of the salad ingredients in that large bowl you were using before. Also, go ahead and slice your ciabatta bread and brush on the olive oil.

When the tomatoes and garlic are finished take them out and put the oven on broil {or grill for y’all Kiwis}. Toss the roasted tomatoes in with your salad mix.

Pop out 2 cloves from the garlic bulb and puree them in the food processor. Then spread the puree on your ciabatta bread. Place the slices on the baking sheet along with your pine nuts and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the pine nuts. You just want them to be a bit toasted, not charred. If they are toasted before the bread, just take them out, add it to the salad mix, and put the bread back in the oven.

While the bread is a toasting, let’s make that dressing. Put all of your dressing ingredients in the food processor and pulse until you’re happy with the consistency.

When the bread is toasted, take it out, chop into bite sized cubes, and add it to your salad mix. Pour the dressing over to whole thing and toss well.

Kiwi+Peach: Tuscan Salad with Homemade Roasted Garlic Croutons

DIY Almond Milk

I’m lactose intolerant. Not in a Leonard kind of way, but in a if-I-eat-dairy-without-taking-my-medicine-I’ll-be-throwing-up-in-a-couple-of-hours kind of way.

It’s really not a big deal though. I actually h.a.t.e. the smell of milk {it all smells sour to me}. I hands-down prefer sorbet or frozen yogurt to ice cream. And let’s face it, all the best cheeses like gorgonzola, parmesan, gouda are all fine since they are fattier {meaning they have very little lactose}. For anything else, I can always take a little pill that provides that magic lactase enzyme I’m missing.  Not a big deal at all!

What I don’t like is having to take medicine when there is a perfectly tasty alternative. Enter milk alternatives.

I’ve been a soy drinker since I found out I was lactose intolerant, but in an effort to veer away from possible GMOs and highly processed stuff, I’ve switched to almond milk. It’s so tasty y’all! Even better is that you can make it yourself. It takes a little bit of forethought since the milk goes bad within a few days, but once you get into a rhythm it really is the simplest thing in the world!

Kiwi+Peach: DIY Almond Milk

I follow The Kitchn’s instructions for making it, but here is the condensed version. Soak your almonds overnight. Drain and rinse them then pop them in a food processor. Add fresh water and then process for about 3-4 minutes. Lay a piece of cheese cloth over a bowl. When you’re finished processing the almonds, pour the mixture onto the cheese cloth. Gather the edges and squeeze all the liquid out of the meal. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup and you’re good to go.

I find that a half batch {1/2 cup almonds, 1 cup water, 1 Tbsp honey} will last me for 2-3 days which is probably only how long it will be fresh for anyway.

My biggest piece of advice is use cheesecloth. I couldn’t find it at all here in Munich, so I had my folks stock me up on their last visit. It’s exactly ten million times easier if you use a cheesecloth rather than a sieve. {I also may or may not have broken our sieve the first time I tried to make it.}

Don’t throw that leftover almond meal away though! There is so much you can do with it. My favorite ways are using it for breading my fried chicken or in a tasty pie crust.

What do you think? Would you ever try making your own almond milk? If you try it, let me know, you hipster you!

BBQ Chicken and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

I have really terrible luck when it comes to restaurants I like staying in business. My hometown gets a great brunch place next to a farmers market. Closed. One of my favorite beach restaurants opens a branch in Athens, and I can get sweet potato fries with blue cheese dipping sauce whenever I want. Nope, closed. Find a brunch place with the best chicken salad ever. Closed. When I moved to Munich there was this delicious, farm-to-table place that I absolutely loved. Closed. A unique, quirky coffee shop where my friends would have our coffee dates with the friendliest barista in town. Closed. We finally locate a place that does spicy {and reasonably priced} takeaway mexican food. Closed.

I think I’m jinxed.

So it’s with a lot of fear that I mention this next place to you. There would be real tears if this place closed. I just don’t think I could handle it. This place called Transmetropolitan. Now, this isn’t new news to anyone who has ever been to Athens {Georgia, not Greece}, but Transmet is the place to go for a delicious, substantial, and cheap slice of pizza. Seriously, you can get a slice of sicilian bigger than my face for like 2 bucks. College kids can’t beat it. My staple, during the college years, was the Johnny Hector’s BBQ Pizza. It had these amazing caramelized onions and a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce that really set it apart from other BBQ pizzas I’ve had in my day. So. Good. Y’all.

If you’re ever in Athens, please promise me you’ll check them out. Pretty please. You don’t want to see the tears.

So what’s a girl to do when she’s half way around the world and craving a Johnny Hector? Obviously we are going to make our own.

Kiwi+Peach: BBQ Chicken and Caramelized Onion Sandwich

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

The Onions
½ red onion
2 tsp butter
1 tsp brown sugar

The Chicken
1 chicken breast
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp bbq sauce

The Assembly
2 buns
2 Tbsp bbq sauce
1/4 cup cheese {gouda is good} or 1/2 ball of buffalo mozzarella

Start heating a pan on medium high heat. Slice your onion and when the pan is hot, drop the butter in the pan, add the onions, and then sprinkle with brown sugar. Give it a stir and cook for 10 minutes or until they are caramelized to your liking. When they are finished, put them in a small bowl and set them to the side.

While the onions are a caramelizing, slice your chicken breast into strips and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the strips. Once the pan is free, add the olive oil and chicken to the pan. Seal the chicken on one side and then let it cook on the other side, undisturbed for about 3 or 4 minutes and then flip. After a few more minutes, pour the bbq sauce over the chicken and give it a stir until the pieces are completely covered. Let it cook until all the bbq sauce has been reduced then remove from the heat.

While the chicken is cooking, grate your cheese {or slice your mozzarella} and your buns. Spread bbq sauce on each side of the bun. When the chicken is finished, load the bottom halves of the sandwiches with the chicken, onions, and grated cheese. Pop them in the oven on broil {or grill for y’all Kiwis} until the cheese melts {3-5 minutes depending on your oven}.

Put the top on and get messy!