Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rigatoni al Ragu' Rustico

Love, love Rigatoni!    I like their ability to suck in the sauce like no other pasta, especially the chunkiest meat sauces.  

Rigatoni al Ragu Rustico

All photos - Copyright - ©2012 - La Casa e Il Giardino




"Ragu' Rustico" (rustic sauce)because characterized by typical ingredients of rural Italian kitchens:  mushrooms and hot sausages.




Ingredients

1 lb. good quality Rigatoni
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, criminis and porcini)
1/2 lb. hot Italian sausages                                 
2 cups tomato pulp in chunks
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
Sprig parsley, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

home-made hot sausages
Clean and slice mushrooms. 

In a medium pan saute' mushrooms in oil and garlic. 

Remove skin from the sausage and cut into chunks.   

Add the sausage to the mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add the white wine and let evaporate. 

Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, cook the pasta.  Drain and pour into the ragu'.

Add the Parmigiano and chopped parsley.
mixed mushrooms

























Saturday, December 31, 2016

How I kicked my $$$ coffee habit by switching coffee makers




Like a growing number of espresso lovers, few years ago I have figured out that I can have my coffee and drink it too.  I chose to become a at-home-do-it-yourself espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker.  And why not.  Today’s high tech, superbly designed, and easy-to-use European automatic espresso machine giving every home barrista the equipment they need to create espresso drinks.


I have been an espresso coffee lover for many years. To me, espresso is more tasteful than regular coffee. I love it in the morning with hot milk and plain in the evening after dinner. To prove it, here is my collection of espresso coffee makers which I have acquired over the years.



But two years ago, I was seduced by a company and accepted, one of the automatic, high tech, well-designed and easy to use espresso maker – you know the one that uses capsules.  At .55c per cup, I developed a $4.00/day habit.  I think they give away the coffee maker so they can sucker people like me and others into buying capsules for five times the price of  'regular' coffee (You know, like inkjet printers. I purchased a good printer for $150.00 but pay $45 for each ink refills).

This summer, I received several pounds of Lavazza coffee as a gift from Italy. 

Images: ©2010 - casa-giardino picasaweb

Now, I simply spoon out the coffee into the Moka, steam milk to 180 degrees (no higher or it might taste scorched) and enjoy a coffee shop latte for almost nothing.

My mother's Moka
Not only have I cut my coffee cost to one-fifth but by using my mother's coffee maker, I keep her memory alive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

HAPPY HOLIDAYS - From Our Home to Yours

Wishing you all the peace the season brings!

 








Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.







                   


    





Scrippelle

Calginetti

Brodi di gallina (chicken soup)


Friday, September 9, 2016

Blood Oranges, Town Crier and my childhood - Arance Sanguine, Bannitore e la mia fanciullezza


Recently, I was reading a recipe for Margaritas and it called for blood oranges. Now, I have not seen nor eaten a blood orange since I was a child and, of course, this sparked a childhood flashback.

Blood Orange

But what does a town crier or bannitore have to do with blood oranges? I grew up in a small town in Abruzzo, post World War II. You see, in those days, there weren’t any circulars or ads in the local paper advertising sales.



A town crier or bannitore would be the person that, when a vendor would arrive in town, would go street by street communicating the notice to others. Generally, he was equipped with a trumpet or horn which served to draw people, who would then rush to their windows to hear what was being sold at the piazza. “Attenzione, attenzione; รจ arrivato il venditore con le sue belle arance sanguine dalla Sicilia.” Correte tutti in piazza…”. “Attention, Attention, a vendor has arrived with  blood oranges from Sicily.  Run to the piazza.”  The announcement would diffuse in record time because in those days neither radio nor other methods of communicating with others existed.


My mother and I upon hearing the sale announcement rushed to the piazza and purchased blood oranges by the kilos. These blood oranges, stained with red like Lady Macbeth, had an unforgettable sweet and tangy like taste with a hint of raspberry. I was told that the rich soil of Sicily and the Mediterranean temperature variation between day and night seems to be necessary to develop the distinctive red color.

We did not have Margaritas in those days nor did we have desserts on a daily basis.  Blood oranges and other fruits substituted for desserts which we only had on special occasions.  Today, being food conscious and a label reader of many cookies and cakes laden with corn syrup and artificial ingredients, I wish all children would eat oranges or other fruits as a snack or dessert.  In my opinion, they would be healthier.

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The rich hue of blood oranges can be an aesthetic wonder when added to fresh fruit mixes and salads or used as a garnish.

INSALATA DI FINOCCHIO ED ARANCE

 

Ingredients –


• 2 large navel oranges and 2 blood oranges
• 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced but save a few feathery fennel leaves
• Extra virgin olive oil to taste (about 8 – 10 tablespoons)
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
• Cut the oranges and fennel bulb
• Arrange orange and fennel slices on a large round plate
• Drizzle with olive oil
• Add salt and black pepper
• Sprinkle with the fine fennel leaves and serve.


Oh yes, the Margaritas


Ingredients

1 quart fresh blood orange juice or fresh orange juice (about 12 blood oranges or 8 large navel oranges)
1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice (about 12 limes)
1 1/2 cups Cointreau or other triple sec
3 1/2 cups silver tequila
Kosher salt
1 blood orange or orange wedge, plus 12 thin blood orange or orange slices
Ice
1 dozen small sage sprigs or leaves

Directions
1.In a large pitcher, mix the blood orange juice with the lime juice, Cointreau and silver tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
2.Spread a small mound of salt on a small plate. Moisten the outer rim of 12 martini glasses with the orange wedge, then dip the rims into the salt to lightly coat.
3.Add ice to the pitcher and stir well, then strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish each margarita with a blood orange slice and a sage sprig and serve.

Make Ahead
The margarita recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated, covered, overnight.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Preserving Garden Herbs - Conservare le Erbe del Giardino

What makes those summer dishes flavorful are the fresh garden herbs. To relish those flavors all year long, I preserve my garden herbs.


All photos - Copyright - ©2011 - La Casa e Il Giardino – picasaweb

We cultivate these culinary herbs: sage, rosemary and mint.  In mid summer, I pick them at their peak and hang to air dry in a warm dry place until they are crunchy to the touch.  I then place each dried herb in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

How can my leg of lamb or pheasant dish be flavorful without the rosemary?
How can the string beans, pasta maritata and zucchini fritters taste spring-like without mint?

Basil

Basilico sott'olio
Basil can be preserved two ways - dry and in oil. I prefer the oil method. 



Remove the basil leaves from the stalks, wash them, dry them with a cloth and leave for a few minutes stretched out to dry. To keep the basil in oil take a glass jar with a wide opening and fill it completely with dry basil leaves, spreading and overlapping them well. Add olive oil, pressing the leaves so that they remain under the thread of the oil. Close the jar and keep in the refrigerator.  Basil kept in oil retains much of its fragrance. Use basil to make savory sauces and on baked fish.

  Celery Leaves

Celery is not just for salads but great to spice up foods.  Celery leaves from our garden are worthwhile leaves with intense flavor that fall somewhere in the scent category between cilantro and parsley.
Like basil, wash the celery leaves, dry them with a towel and leave for a few minutes stretched out to dry. 

Place the dry celery in a zip-lock bag and freeze. 

Celery is excellent with zucchini and potatoes, baccala', chicken soup and a must in bird stuffing.



Buon Appetito!










Monday, August 15, 2016

A Bountiful Harvest from Our Vegetable Garden

We are celebrating this year’s bountiful vegetable crop thanks to a glorious early summer here in the North East.

Pears - Pere


All photos - Copyright - ©2016 - La Casa e Il Giardino

Yes, it required some workseeding, planting, mulching, fertilizing, watering and weeding.
Swisschard









Cabbage





Some plants required special attention - 

Pole beans

Tomatoes on the vine



....keeping an eye on the pests






such as staking up the tomato and bean vines  














Eggplants


........but look at the harvest

Cucumbers

Dandelions
Jersey tomatoes


Italian flat beans




In my opinion, eating vegetables that you have grown yourself is an experience everyone should enjoy. They taste so much better than anything you can buy in a grocery store. 
  

Monday, August 1, 2016

50 Years of Wedded Bliss

Today as both of us look back with happiness and pride upon the 50 cherished years that we've spent side by side.




Where has the time gone!


St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church


So many years later, I remember many details so well.  Such journeys one never forgets.


Our first dance: Love is Many Splendored Thing
Our first honey-moon night at The Plaza Hotel, NY
Flew out the following morning to Rome. 
Our stay at the Villa d'Este, Lake Como.
Back to Casalbordino (Abruzzo) to celebrate with family and friends


Vasto - 1966





If I were to describe our marriage in a nutshell, I would say, it’s practical, unpretentious and precious. It’s not marked by grand displays of affection, the giving of lavish gifts or romantic getaways but one built on solid foundations of shared morals and values.












Over the years, we have had our share of conflict and some of our disagreements have not been pretty but we have managed to understand our differences, accepted and then adjusted to them.
Who said marriage was easy? It's not. Never was, never will be.

Spanish Steps, Rome
Piazza di Spagna, Roma
I stumbled upon this beautiful quote today and couldn’t agree with it more!

“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.” F. Burton Howard



St Mark's Square, Venice
Piazza San Marco, Venezia