Finally, to the cooking part of my cooking trip! We headed to a small town called Spongano the morning after our welcome dinner in Lecce. This is where the castle was located. Some people may call this a manor house, but call it what you want. There were like 20 bedrooms and bathrooms and an awesome pool and a garden filled with all sorts of fruit trees… I’d call that a castle. (Also, thanks to my mom, the host of the trip, for most of these photos! I was too preoccupied to take pictures most of the week. If you think you would like to go on this trip next time she takes people, check out her site here!)
For those of you who don’t know, I am currently in a small town in Southern Italy called Spongano. I am taking classes at a cooking school in a CASTLE! The weather has been great and the food has been delicious. I will be posting a couple of things about my trip soon, but for now I want to share this delicious gazpacho recipe that I made before I left.
Being a part of the food blogging world is awesome; of course I am sure many of you already know that. Apart from meeting so many new people, great non-profits and soo much delicious food- I have found something ELSE! The Secret Recipe Club. No not like it’s a secret, because otherwise I wouldn’t be telling you about it. The secret recipe club works kind of like secret santa gifts; you get assigned a fellow blogger, then you have to re-create a recipe from their blog for a certain date. Check them out here, although I think there is a wait list to join now since so many people are wanting to participate.
I don’t want to jinx it, but I think the summer heat is finally dying out; of course now that I said that it will probably be over 90 next week. That’s ok though because you need a few more hot sunny days to try this sweet vinaigrette recipe! I got the idea from the blog Coconut & Lime and figured it would be perfect for a nice sweet summer salad.
One thing I love about summertime is the Farmer’s Market. During my last visit to the farmers market, I got these delicious heirloom tomatoes and Palisade Peaches (some of the best peaches in Colorado!). I knew I had to make something delicious with them. If you have never eaten an heirloom tomato, I highly suggest that you get on it! They are so delicious and not to mention super cool looking! I love just looking at all the different heirloom tomatoes in the bunch.
Once everybody thought they couldn’t eat any more at my Foodbuzz 24×24, I made dessert. I was really excited about this dessert because I have never lit anything on fire in my kitchen (on purpose). Even though it was hot, and even hotter in the kitchen with the stove on, I sucked it up and got my rum and lighter ready for the bananas flambé .
To kick off our Foodbuzz 24×24 party we made mojitos and margaritas, We began by making an agave hibiscus simple syrup by boiling down hibiscus leaves with agave nectar. Once we had our syrup, it was time to make mojitos. We are lucky enough to have our own orange mint plant in our garden this year, but if you cannot find orange mint regular mint works as well. These mojitos are very unique, the hibiscus flowers give them a great pink color and a hint of floral flavor; very refreshing on a hot summer day.
For my Foodbuzz 24×24 party, we also made pineapple basil margaritas with fresh basil from our garden. These margaritas are sweeter than your average and don’t have that sour lime taste that sometimes comes with others. The basil adds a nice earthy kick to balance the sweetness. I can safely say that these margaritas are the best that I have ever had. I highly recommend you try both this and the orange mint hibiscus mojito recipes and wow your company with them!
This summer has been filled with friends’ 21st birthdays. Besides being suckered into going out to bars more than I probably should, I have also been consuming ridiculous amounts of junk food and desserts at all of these birthdays. I have had baked mac ‘n’ cheeses, spinach artichoke dip, ice cream cake, way too much hummus (recipe coming soon!) and this lovely champagne cake.
It really doesn’t get much better than eating a cool, creamy tart with juicy fresh fruit on a hot summer evening. A few friends and I had a delicious bison barbeque this past week. We had one dish after another until we could hardly eat anymore… but then came the dessert. Consumption of this dessert took place around my kitchen counter with moaning, mmm’s and oh my god’s coming from stuffed faces.