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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

PASSION FOR STYLISH KITCHEN TOWELS


I have a passion for strong and stylish kitchen towels. When one cooks a great deal like me, it is very important to have absorbent towels. For absorbency, I use dish towels consisting of a waffle or basket weave. Apart from their obvious use, dish towels can also enhance the decor of any kitchen or express a theme. I create my own designs.


As with any theme decor, if not properly done, it can make a kitchen look garish.  

Do not overdue.


Beach Theme Decor





     

Whether you are looking to decorate a summer cottage or a year round home with the beach theme, the kitchen is a perfect place to start. Use nautical colors – such as tan, yellow, navy, and white color scheme. A tiny splash of red and orange can also be added for a pop of color. Display a set of nautical themed dishes, seashells in a jar and kitchen towels.







Food and Drink
The kitchen is where the food is made, so favorite foods and drinks are often good subjects for kitchen decor.


Due to the increasing popularity of wine appreciation, homeowners are adding wine theme decor to their kitchens.  
Natural rustic materials such as stone and Tuscan paint colors like oatmeal, terra cotta, warm yellow compliment a wine theme kitchen decor. 


When choosing wine theme kitchen accessories, keep it simple – few ceramics, a decorative bottle and some kitchen towels. You want your kitchen to look classy and chic and not over the top. If done well, the kitchen should resemble a rural country home rather than a wine store.






These martini kitchen towels are great hanging in the kitchen or by the pool bar.






A coffee lover might paint the kitchen walls in an appealing shade of caffe' latte, display wall decor that features vintage coffee ads, and hang kitchen towels embroidered with  coffee cups. 


Favorite foods are another good source of inspiration. Citrus fruits in their fresh colors, cheery red and green apples, ripe tomatoes and red and green peppers are great choices.








Friday, April 3, 2015

RISOTTO WITH SPINACH AND SHRIMPS

As mentioned in previous postings, Easter is all about lamb in our home except for Good Friday, a day of strict fasting and abstinence from all meat.  Sometimes the simplest recipes are the very best.  Like this one, which has become a favorite of ours.  Trust me, this dish is brilliant, speedy, and ideal when the day calls for a meatless dish.






Ingredients:


1 1/2 uncooked large shrimps, peeled and deveined
5 cups of vegetable broth or water
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup of Arborio or Carnaroli Brown rice
1 lb. fresh spinach leaves ot 1 (10 oz. package)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and black pepper



Preparation:

In large pan, over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Sauté shallots until softened. Add the rice and sauté for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of broth, stirring often until broth is almost completely absorbed. Continue adding broth until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender. 

In another skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté garlic until aromatic and softened. Add shrimp and cook until just done. Do not overcook. Remove shrimps to a plate. In the same skillet, add spinach tossing until spinach is wilted.  Adjust for salt and pepper.  Toss all ingredients until heated through and creamy.   Serve immediately.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Then, Comes PASQUETTA or LUNEDI' di PASQUA (Easter Monday)

While in America everybody is back to work on Monday following Easter Sunday. in Italy they have another holiday called Lunedi' di Pasqua or Pasquetta.



On this day, many Italians head for the fields to picnic and celebrate the arrival of spring. Many families together with friends and relatives feast on frittata (egg omelets) made with wild asparagus, 


Asparagus frittata


various pizzas,


Pizza with roasted peppers


and other Easter delicacies like Fiadoni e Pastoni and yes, red wine.






Perhaps stuffed but Che bel divertimento!








Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino: a classic that never wanes

I know, it may not be original but it is one of those absolute pasta dishes of the Italian cuisine that pleases everyone and not everyone can do.




Ingredients (for 3 persons)
1/2 lb. spaghetti
2 red peperoncini (dry or fresh as preferable)
3 cloves of garlic (or fresh garlic)
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper













Preparation:
Bring a good amount of water to boil.
Pour olive oil in a frying pan.  Add chopped garlic and fry over medium heat avoiding it to burn. 
Add the chopped peperoncini, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of water.  
Simmer gently while spaghetti are cooking.
Drain pasta when ready and toss in pan and mix well.
Serve with a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano (if you like).




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

OUR TRADITIONAL MENU DI SABATO SANTO (HOLY SATURDAY)

While fasting and abstinence are no longer required on Holy Saturday, for us fasting in the morning and eating dinner around 6 p.m. is a good way to observe this sacred day.  As mentioned in other posts, it's our tradition to buy a young, locally grown lamb at Easter time.

Now to the menu.

Lamb Scottadito (finger-blistering grilled lamb chops)


·     12 thickly cut lamb chops
·     leaves from sprig of fresh rosemary
·     2 cloves of garlic
·     1/4 pound cured lard or prosciutto fat 

·     Salt & pepper to taste 


Grind the lard, rosemary leaves, and garlic to make a smooth paste. Spread it on both sides of the chops and let them sit in a cool place for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Fire up your grill and when hot, 
lay down the lamb chops. Cook them briefly, flip them, and grill the other sides. Cooking time should be 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon your grill and your taste.  We like them medium rare.

Remove them and serve 
while they're hot enough to burn the fingers.

I like to serve the lamb chops with Spezzatino di Carciofi (Artichoke stew).


In the alternate, an abundance of Zucchini Fritters (Frittelle di Zucchine)








Monday, February 9, 2015

STUFFED ROASTED BREAST OF VEAL - PUNTA DI VITELLO RIPIENA AL FORNO

Veal breast is a less valuable cut of meat, therefore it's inexpensive but not less flavorful.   It requires to be slow cooked in order to be tender.  When boiled, it provides a flavorful broth.  When stuffed, seasoned with herbs and other fats like pancetta or lard, it requires at least 2 hours of cooking.



          


STUFFING:


 tablespoon olive oil

·         2 cups stale bread crumbs
·         1 cup of pancetta (cubed)
1        ½ cup chopped celery
·         ½ cup chopped onion
·         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

·         2 cloves of garlic chopped

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set over medium heat.  Add the pancetta onions, garlic, celery and cook until pancetta is brown.  Stir in the bread and continue cooking for few more minutes stirring all ingredients.  Let the stuffing cool.





ROAST:

  • 1 3 1/2- to 4- pound veal breast with pocket
  •       tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  •       cup white wine
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  •      2 sprigs of fresh rosemary


  1. Open pocket and push the cooled stuffing into the cavity.  Tie the open end shut with kitchen string.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and black pepper.  Brown the meat for 30 or so minutes over medium heat.  Add the sliced onion and wine; cover, reduce heat to low and cook 1 hour.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the potatoes around the roast and cook, uncovered, in the oven for 1 hour or until the meat is nicely browned on top and the potatoes are cooked through.
  2. Slice the meat and serve with potatoes and pan juices.






















Friday, February 6, 2015

PAN DI SPAGNA FARCITO (ITALIAN SPONGE CAKE WITH CREAM FILLING)

Pan di Spagna refers to a sponge cake with layers filled with various creams.  In Abruzzo, we refer to it as Pizza Dolce.  Pan di Spagna can also be eaten by itself with fruit or it can be used as a base for Zuppa Inglese.




Pan di Spagna (Pizza Dolce)


In my childhood,  we used to wait for the holidays to eat elaborate desserts.  Pan di Spagna was prepared for Easter Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It was also used as a wedding cake. Usually, made with 20 eggs, cut crosswise into three discs soaked in rum, liqueur and espresso coffee and then filled with creams - a chocolate, an almond and a vanilla. The surface was sprinkled with white powdered sugar.    

Today, I continue to make Pan di Spagna at Easter and to celebrate special occasions



Celebrating my daughter's birthday
Ingredients
    6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup flour
    1/8 teaspoon  salt
    1/2 cup strong espresso coffee, cooled
    1/4 cup rum (or any liquor)
    1 teaspoon lemon rind
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    butter and flour for the pan (In Italy we used wax paper to fit in a 10” round pan)
      Directions

      • Sift the flour, and measure
      • Beat egg whites until frothy; sprinkle salt over the top and continue beating until stiff enough to form peaks but not dry; gradually beat in sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time.
      • Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored; add lemon rind and juice; continue beating until very thick.
      • Gently fold in beaten whites.
      • Gradually fold in flour sifting 1/4 cup at a time.
      • Butter and flour a 10" cake pan. 
      • Bake in moderate oven (325 degrees) about 1 hour; remove from oven.

      Invert pan and let stand until cooled. (Remove wax paper, if used).
      When cool, cut crosswise into two discs.  Soak each disc with cold espresso coffee, rum or any liquor of your choice.
      Add creams over each disc.
      Dust white confectionery sugar over the surface.






      TIP

      Remember, first of all, once the sponge cake is in the oven do not open the door until the cake is finished cooking otherwise the sponge will deflate.