Thursday, February 25, 2010

SuperSize THIS

I know I've said it before, but I really love my cooking class. Like, really really.

Today we watched the movie SuperSize Me, the documentary about (and made by) Morgan Spurlock who ate McDonald's food three times a day for 30 days in order to prove just how toxic fast food really is. This was my third time watching it, but I realized that each time I've seen it, I've been at a different place in my life in terms of my own eating habits and preferences. I first saw it when it first came out on video in my high school health class.  got it, it grossed me out, but I was never a Mickey D regular anyway, so I didn't put too much thought into it. The 2nd time I saw was the spring of my freshman year in college, a time when I was overly conscious of calories and fat - and really had no real concept of what those things actually are. Now, I am a bit more enlightened on the nutrition-front and less concerned with caloric value as I am with the quality and freshness of the ingredients. It was really interesting to see it from my newer perspective. There is a downside - that movie makes me incredibly angry with the U.S. food industry. Especially in the discussion of school food programs. It would be so simple to get more natural, healthily-prepared and nutrition-conscious foods in any and all schools, and yet nothing is done about it because of MONEY. WHAT are kids supposed to do when the french fries are a dollar and the turkey sandwich on whole grain bread is 4??? It really just infuriates me. Opinions/comments/thoughts?

Back to my class - to bring home the point that food can be delicious AND good for you, my teacher made (because we were watching the movie, he did the majority of the cooking) fresh burger, fresh fries, and homemade ice cream. And it was...well, a foodgasm, quite frankly. He made and baked the bread for the buns, the beef was bought and ground right in front of my teacher this very morning, and the fries were simply baked potato slices with rosemary, garlic and olive oil (which my mom makes a lot and I ADORE them!). We topped the burgers with fresh mozzarella and had sauteed spinach and mushrooms as a side.

1. Next time you make a cheeseburger, use fresh mozzarella (don't melt it on top, just throw it on). I don't even LIKE cheeseburgers, and this was amazing.
2. This bun was some of the best bread I've ever had. Yes, I will be emailing my teacher for the recipe. Holy. Yum. 
3. Never in my LIFE have I tasted ground beef like this. After giving up red meat for a year in 2008, I realized how much don't care for it...but clearly it's because I had never tasted this. I didn't eat all of it, because I still really can't eat it in large portions...but whoa. This burger blew my mind tastebuds.
(In case you are curious, he grilled the patties on a dry skillet and towards the end of cooking time poured white wine over them to dry up any excess fat in the burgers.)
4. Make these "fries." You will never feel the need to darken the doorway of the Golden Arches again.

Have I convinced you of the ridiculous deliciousness of my meal yet? No? Well, wait for the grand finale...
What my pictures lacks in aesthetic appeal, the contents made up for and then some with taste.
That would be homemade berry gelato, eaten within minutes of being ready. It was a mix of strawberries and some raspberries, and then a little orange thrown in, with just 2 eggs, a liiiiitle bit of sugar and skim milk.
In my ice cream rankings, it is currently tied with my grandfather's homemade peach ice cream (which is a SERIOUSLY difficult thing to even come close to, much less beat out). Yes, it was that good. *Tip*: The pink color means the berries are perfectly fresh; when the color is redder, it means artificial something-or-other has been added.

As you may imagine, I floated out of that class on quite the food high and took a walk. Really, I was in search of the Culinary Institute of Florence building, just because I know what street it's on and I just really want to see it. Ended up getting semi-lost, one of my favorite things to do in this city, and unfortunately didn't find it (I think I walked the wrong way down the street. It's a long street.) I made a trip to the grocery store and headed on home. I was makin dinner tonight!

One of my roommates wanted to make bruschetta, and did a lovely job:

Nothin like fresh bruschetta in Italy. So. Good.

I have heard several times from various sources about lasagna made with thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini instead of the noodles, and I figured there's no better place to try it out than in Italy! It turned into more of an "Italian pie", but hey, it was good. Needs some improvement, but here is what I did:
-Rub the bottom of a pan lightly with olive oil (or use PAM - they don't have it here).
-Place thin slices of eggplant on the bottom (I should have cooked it a teeny bit before I did this)
-Layer that with cannellini beans and pasta if desired (I threw probably under a half a cup of whole wheat penne in there, to add a little bean + grain perfect protein combo)
-Place fresh mozzarella slices and then layer with zucchini
-Cover with sauce (I would recommend layering the sauce more throughout, because I like more sauce. I just didn't have enough).
*For the sauce, I heated up a pan slightly drizzled with olive oil and garlic and added a can of crushed tomatoes, basil, salt and oregano.*
I topped it with the remainder of my pecorino sardo cheese (grated), which made a really yummy thin crust on top.
It was pretty good, but there is room for improvement. Difficult to cut - maybe I will cube the veggies next time and go for more of a pie effect.

No complaints = Good sign!
 I recommend serving it with some good Tuscan bread. But then, I recommend serving everything with good Tuscan bread...

Off to Rome very early tomorrow, and I have been procrastinating packing. I'm not over-the-moon excited about it, but I am bound and determined to see the Sistine Chapel, and that I am excited about. And restaurants. And gelato. Ok, I'm a little excited about it.

I will be back Sunday evening - with lots of pictures!



  1. your blog makes me so hungry. can we cook together over the summer? i'm trying to improve and these all look so goooood.