Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cookie Overdrive

I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies Thursday night to make up for our lack of a turkey dinner. I needed to adjust the cooking times a little to make up for the Italian ingredients and oven. They turned out ok. Well, this evening after dinner I thought, let's bake cookies again!

I experimented a little bit more and with the help of my Chief Taster and Timer, I think I have a hit. ;-)

Here's the recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman's 'How to Cook Everything'.

Buonissimo Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 lb (226gm) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375F or 190C.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
3. Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugars; add eggs one at a time and beat until well blended.
4. Add flour mixture to batter by hand, stirring to blend.
5. Stir in vanilla and chocolate chips.
6. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt. Bake 7 minutes until lightly browned. Add a minute if you prefer a crispier cookie.

The salt sprinkle before baking is key. I read about it somewhere and it's true - it really brings out the chocolate flavor. I love the smell of cookies baking in the oven and baking makes me feel happy.

Ok, it's past midnight and time to wrap up the cookie baking operation. Hope you're having a good weekend. Buona notte!

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Snowing

Woke up this morning, looked out the window and found this outside. And it's still coming down!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish Happy Thanksgiving to my sis and all my friends in the States.

Here's a picture from last year's holiday. ;-)

Hope you enjoyed a warm (and filling) holiday with family and friends. I miss you all!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Verona - Love at First Sight

Yikes, it's been a while since my last post. The last few weeks have been busy and I'll admit I've been lazy as well.

There's a special place that we happened to visit that I'd like to share with you. It was the first weekend in November and we were in the Veneto region in the north-east of Italy. We finished what we had to do and it was still early in the day. Since we were in the area, we decided to visit the city of Verona on the way back to Milan. I had never been there before even though it is only 1.5 hours from Milan. Stef had been there once many years back.

We got off the highway, parked and walked towards downtown Verona. My first impression as we walked across a bridge over the Adige River was, 'Wow..' It was a crisp and sunny fall day and the colors were beautiful.

We didn't have any maps with us so we just wandered around the narrow streets.

There were outdoor cafes and street vendors at the busy Pizza Erbe.

I loved this fountain right in the middle of the piazza.

We kept walking and ended up at the very center, Piazza Bra, where the impressive Roman arena sits. It's hard to imagine that this amphitheater was built in 1 A.D.

In the summer, the annual Verona Opera festival takes place here. It must be a magical experience and it's now on my to-do list.

Every where we turned, there were historical sights to admire.

The bridge from Castel Vecchio over the river.

Finally we had to swing by Casa di Giulietta, Juliet's house, of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet story. Even though the story is fictional, but supposedly a real Veronese family had lived here and was the inspiration for Shakespeare's story. The entrance to the courtyard was covered with love notes left by romantics.

Inside was quite the spectacle. There were lots of tourists posing for pictures on the famous balcony where Juliet was said to have spoken to her lover Romeo.

And underneath is a bronze statue of Juliet, where more tourists jostled to stroke her right breast, for it is said to bring good fortune. Haha. No, we didn't.

Our impromptu visit to Verona turned out to be a wonderful surprise. Too many tourists head straight to Venice and miss out on this beautiful city.
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