Fresh Italian Salad Recipe | Italia – giorno uno | Day One in Italy

Bobby and I are in Italy for two weeks, so I’m going to post about some of our culinary adventures. We’re staying near Venice in a piccola citta’ called Spinea.

Lunch today was delicious. Bobby got a pizza: “Prosciutto e Funghi” (Ham and Mushrooms).

I got Insalata Fantasia, a salad of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, mozzarella, corn, and shredded carrots. In Italy you make your own dressing from the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper that they set at every table.

This evening we managed to cook dinner because our hosts have allowed us to use their kitchen ­čÖé We had…

Leftover pizza, bread (both toasted), plus fresh salad with sauteed onions:

Fresh Italian Salad


  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped red pepper
  • Lettuce


  1. Saute onions in a spoonful of olive oil.
  2. Mix together raw veggies and top with onions and the following dressing…

Simple Italian Dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

We went to a very quaint “supermercato” to get the ingredients. We also picked up some ingredients for tomorrow’s breakfast.

I also plan on posting pictures and critiques of food from restaurants that we go to. Maria (our host) suggested not eating in the city of Venice because it’s ridiculously expensive. Very sound advice, and hopefully it will encourage some imagination and produce new recipes, since I have access to a kitchen.

Bobby and I are going to try to act European by eating large lunches and light dinners. So far so good…

Spiced Holiday Bread Braid Recipe

Julia, my sister, is going to give our Grammie and Aunt Mattie homemade bread for Christmas this year. Last night we decided to do a run-through to see how it would come out.┬áI found a recipe for a Cardamom braid in Cooking Light, so I modified it (a lot) and came up with my very own. It’s quite simple to make and came out better than any bread I have made in the past.

Spiced Holiday Bread Braid Recipe


  • 1 1/3 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Lemon rind from one lemon plus a dash of lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons spices – allspice/pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 4.5 cups whole wheat flour (separated), plus extra for kneading
  • 2.5 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 egg white
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  1. Mix together the first 6 ingredients (milk, sugar, butter, lemon, spices, salt) in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. The temperature should be about 120 – 130 F.
  2. Combine 2.5 cups of the flour with the yeast. Then add the milk mixture from the saucepan and mix together. Gradually add the remaining two cups of flour. (You can do this in a mixer – mine was not very cooperative. I think it would be better to try by hand.)
  3. Once you have a ball of dough, knead for about 10 minutes over a floured surface. Continue to add flour as the dough absorbs it; the dough should remain slightly sticky.
  4. Spray the inside of a bowl with cooking spray, then place the ball of dough inside. Cover and keep in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has about doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough and let it rest for a few minutes.
  6. Preheat the over to 375F.
  7. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and roll them into ropes – if you want a long, thin, braid try for about 20 inches; if you want it fatter, try for 15 inches. Pinch together the ropes and then braid them. When you have finished the braid, pinch the other end together.
  8. Place the braid on a sprayed cookie sheet; cover and let it sit for another 25 minutes.
  9. Paint the braid with the egg white and water mixture, then sprinkle the additional sugar over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove and let it cool.

We had it with butter and that fresh fruit dip I keep raving about.

I really like using almond milk – it’s light and naturally sweet. I’m not a huge regular milk fan anyway (though I do like whole milk and heavy cream).

More posts to come – I expect to make A LOT of cookies over the next day or so.

Fresh Persimmons and Apples with Dip

Last night I went to H-Mart (the Korean grocery store near Oxford Valley Mall) to do some shopping. I happened upon a package of persimmons, 3 for $1.49, so I decided to buy them, even though they looked a little sickly – sort of like tomatoes on the verge of going bad. But I was curious.

Apparently there are two types of persimmons: Hachiyas and Fuyus. I bought Fuyus. The Fuyu looks basically like a tomato: red and round. Hachiyas are more pear shaped and must be very ripe before you try to eat them (otherwise they are too astringent). I think Hachiyas are better for baking (try cookies), while Fuyus are delicious plain.

The Fuyus I bought felt plump and soft to the touch. They were perfectly ripe.

This morning I sliced one of the persimmons, sliced a Gala apple, and mixed them together with some of the fruit dip I posted earlier (dip!).

Fresh Persimmons and Apples with Dip


  • 1 ripe persimmon
  • 1 apple
  • 2 tablespoons┬áfruit dip
  • 1 tablespoon chopped nuts (walnuts, perhaps?)


  1. Slice fruit. Mix with dip. Sprinkle nuts. EAT!

Vegetable and Seitan Stir-Fry Recipe

Vegetable and Seitan Stir-Fry 


  • Diced onion
  • Chopped red/orange/yellow pepper
  • Sliced carrots
  • Chopped bok choy
  • Fresh sliced seitan
  • Smart Ground meatless crumbles
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Soy sauce, to taste (about 2 tsp)


  1. Heat the oil in a pan on high.
  2. Toss in onions, peppers, carrots, and all fake meat. Saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the bok choy and saute for another minute.
  4. Add soy sauce, stir, and remove from heat.
  5. Serve alone or with rice.

Other great veggies to add: broccoli, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, baby corn, scallions, mushrooms, zucchini…

Note that it’s important to add the bok choy (and any other leafy vegetables) last, otherwise they become limp.

Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies

Because it’s snowing terribly outside, I decided to make oatmeal raisin cookies today. I was supposed to go to the mall to do Christmas shopping, pick up my cap and gown, and sell some textbooks back at the library, but the snow on the ground was discouraging so I stayed in my warm apartment.

I made some applesauce the other night and it was delicious, so I decided to make some more and add it to the cookies. That was a good call; they came out great.

Quick Applesauce Recipe:

To make the applesauce, just chop up an apple and boil it in an inch of water for about ten minutes. Then mix it in a blender with the remaining water – one apple will make a little more than a half cup of applesauce. If you want, add a bit of sparkling apple cider instead of water.

Oatmeal Raisin Applesauce Cookies


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins


  1. Preheat over to 375F. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter (softened) and sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, and applesauce.
  4. Stir in the flour, then the oats and raisins.
  5. Use a teaspoon to drop the cookies on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.