Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More Pasta Please

 In any supermarket anywhere in all of Italy you will find several varieties and brands of pasta.
 Rows and rows of boxes and bags of pasta.  Pasta with eggs, without eggs, pasta made with spinach 
and pasta with whole wheat!  Spiral pasta, pasta shells, pasta shaped liked little hats and church bells.
But the one thing you won't find is wide egg noodles to make chicken soup.
I considered smashing up some pappardelle but decided to give these pantacce a try.  
Looks like someone smashed up some lasagna noodles.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Mushroom Hunting

I went mushroom hunting with Amore!  But on one stipulation, that it was more of a leisurely walk than a death march through brambles along goat paths (like the first time I was foolish enough to have accepted an invitation!)

Oh, there were brambles.  But I didn't have to go anywhere near them.
 Amore offered to let me cut and gather the mushrooms myself, but I was more content to just point them out.
As much as I enjoyed the day and the fun of finding funghi, the freezer and I pray the season is coming to an end.  
Shhh.... someone still has the fever.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tis the Season

I know it must seem that I'm overly obsessed with mushrooms or funghi lately, but tis the season!  Everyone has funghi fever this time of year -- including Amore.  We have a freezer full of frozen funghi.  Say that three times fast!  
He has now taken to drying them on the radiator.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  I love funghi.  We enjoy a simple pasta with fungi and fresh olive oil, deep-fried battered funghi, a very rich pasta with funghi, sausage and cream, and I put fungi in my ragu while it's cooking because it adds an earthy richness.
But my favorite way to enjoy funghi is on bruschetta.  A thick slice of rustic bread toasted over wood coals and then heaped with a generous portion of chopped fungi that has been simmering for hours in the family's fresh olive oil with a clove or two of garlic and a pinch of salt.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Raise Your Hand

 I'm taking a poll.  Who knew that the above mushroom
turns into this mushroom?  Be honest.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Friday, October 05, 2012

Peach Upside-Down Cake

My in-laws don't eat desserts.  In fact, they're quite particular about everything they eat.  New foods are never introduced.  True Italians, stuck in family tradition.  When we're invited to share a meal, I always like to contribute something though. An appetizer, side dish, dessert -- something! I mean, you can't just show up to someone's home empty-handed.  Am I right? 
Amore always tries to persuade me not to go to the trouble of making anything so we usually just bring a bottle of Prosecco.  And even that, the two of us usually end up drinking ourselves -- not the entire bottle, of course.  In the few years we've been together I keep trying to break them down using my culinary skills, but admittedly I've had more losses than wins.  In fact, to date I've had only two wins.  This is my second win, a Peach Upside-Down Cake!  Yeah for me!   My secret, I used peaches from the family garden to ensure my win.  I could be onto something here!


3/4 cup butter, softened, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
2 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup milk

Melt 1/4 cup butter; pour into an ungreased 9-inch round baking pan (I used what I had, a rectangular pan). Sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange peach slices in single layer over sugar.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spoon over peaches.

Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 8 servings.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Guglielmo's

This is an old photograph of my grandparents, Stella and Ben Guglielmo, in front of our family's condo on Maui.  .Sadly, the condo was sold a few years ago. 

Thankfully, there's still this priceless photo with this written on the back!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Insalata Caprese

It was a long hot summer!  Subsequently, the tomato plants in our garden produced like crazy for several weeks.  Big round red tomatoes, horn-shaped tomatoes, black heirloom tomatoes, medium-sized salad tomatoes, tiny red and yellow cherry tomatoes!  All of them bursting with summer flavor.  Then poof!  The plants have already started turning brown, the tomatoes aren't ripening like before and they just don't taste as flavorful.  While in the beginning we were giving tomatoes away, we are now hoarding tomatoes.  This is one of our favorite summer dishes to make with either bounty tomatoes or hoarded tomatoes.  Slice fresh tomatoes and top with a slice of fresh mozzarella, sprinkled with chopped fresh basil and drops of balsamic reduction vinegar, drizzle with your favorite local farmer's olive oil, and don't forget the salt and pepper!  Eat and repeat! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In My Yard

Because of the long and harsh winter followed by a hot and dry summer this year, the vegetable garden is looking er, a bit pathetic.  Since I'm adverse to showing you photographs of sad looking vegetables, I thought I might instead show you what's looking good in my yard!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rest in Peace

A video tribute to my beloved Sydney Claire who left us on August 18 headed for a better place.  She was 16-1/2 years old, living eight of those years with diabetes.  My little trooper, my best friend, my adored puppyhead.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Le Madonnine

These small statues of the Madonna are called Madonnine, tiny Madonnas.  

This altar is also called a Madonnina.  They are meant to invoke protection and bring good fortune.

You see them everywhere here in Italy, embedded in exterior walls of buildings, 
 in a stone wall along a road, a single structure on a rural street corner. 

 I want one.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Arugula & Bresaula

Thinly sliced bresaula atop a bed of fresh arugula topped with shaved aged parmesan cheese and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice is a dish we enjoy almost year round.  Add a little salt and pepper and a crisp glass of wine and it's the perfect dish any time of year, but truly best in the summer with fresh arugula from the garden!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

I purchased this flag at a women's clothing store.  It's either a shawl or a scarf but I bought it because I liked the idea of a cloth flag.  Until I figure out a better place for it, it hangs down from the balcony area of the library.  (Sounds fancy, but the library is just shelves filled with books and DVDs.)

The fun thing about this flag is that they have sewn the tag onto the front side.  I'm not sure if they did this because they didn't know how the flag hangs . ... or who knows why.  The tag reads "Made in Italy".  Anywho/what/where/why, Happy Quattro di Luglio!

Friday, June 22, 2012

La Bietola

Fresh swiss chard, bietola fresca. Can't you just see the vitamins! (I've included my hand as a reference to show you the size of the leaf.) Now, I was never a fan of this vegetable until I discovered it could be cooked in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes. Actually, everything tastes good cooked that way.  Here's how: Cut a few of the largest, most mature leaves from each plant, or alternatively you can find swiss chard in the veggie section everywhere this time of year.  Clean them well but don't dry them!  Cut them into one inch slices including the white stalk. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil into a pan, along with some sliced fresh garlic and red pepper flakes. Place the cleaned chard on top, cover and simmer on low heat until the water evaporates, usually 15-20 minutes.  Remove the lid, add a little salt and pepper and it's ready to eat.  Or, do what I do and continue cooking the chard until it browns and crisps just a little. It's like eating candy, not your vegetables!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cherries for a Friend

Thanks to the February Freeze earlier this year, we have had many successes in our garden.  Plants that have never bloomed did so this year.  Last year our cherry tree produced lots of cherries but they were small and not very sweet.  This year, although we had terrible winds when there were blossoms on the tree and there were less cherries, the cherries that remained were big and sweet!  I took a bag to a friend but before I closed the bag I couldn't resist taking a picture for the archives.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Asparagus Sformato

I considered titling this post "Sinful Sformato" because it's that delicious! A sformato is best described as a savory cheesecake without the graham crust. It's basically ricotta, egg and cheese to which you add whatever vegetable and herbs suit your fancy and the season. Very simple and very easy! I steamed my asparagus, but you could also saute any vegetable in olive oil. In a separate bowl lightly beat two eggs, add one cup of ricotta, a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix in the lightly cooked, chopped vegetable and pour into a greased dish. Bake until golden and set (approximately 45-60 minutes). Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting.  And try not to eat the whole dish by yourself!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Piggy Picking

It's once again that time of year for Amore's family to purchase two pigs to fatten and ...  um .... slaughter.  That's life in the countryside in Italy and pretty much most of rural Europe.  The pigs are well-fed and well-cared for and then they're made into pancetta, prosciutto, sausages, and assorted other delicious products.  

There was a particularly pretty piglet that I fell head over heels for but Amore said I wouldn't be able to part with (read: eat) this little darling when it was time.  He's right, look at those gorgeous eyes!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Carciofi Grigliata

I am a grilling fool. One with a marked propensity or fondness for something, not a simpleton. Anyway, I love my grill pan and researched a bit about how to grill baby artichokes. Cut them in half and boil them in water along with rosemary and garlic cloves for about 5 minutes. Drain and brush them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill them about 5 minutes a side. When they're done give them a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on the cut side and enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Che Pizza!

Remember The Great Snowfall of 2012? Well, something really good came out of being snowed in, something really yummy good.  Since we weren't able to make it into town for our Saturday night pizza pick-up, Amore made us pizza.  And he's been doing it every Saturday night since!  Don't tell him, but I sort of miss the wood oven pizza from downtown.  But only sort of.  However, I must say it's great to be able to control the amount of toppings and their placement on the pizza.  Not that I'm a control freak or anything.  Here's a list of our favorites:

Sausage, Potato and Rosemary
Sausage, Onion and Cannellini Bean
Tuna and Onion
Four Cheese
Hotdog and Onion (Try it!)
Ham and Mushroom
Ham, Artichoke and Sliced Boiled Egg
Sausage, Mushroom and Onion
Sausage, Black Olive and Onion
Roast Veggies, Onions and Sausage
Fresh Arugula with Bresaula and Shaved Parmesan

If you need any details, please don't hesitate to ask.  That's what I'm here for.  In Italy.  Someone's gotta do it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Friend Agata

I want to share this letter with you.  It's from my dear friend Agata who after living in Italy for a few years returned to Poland.  She's a lovely person, both inside and out.  It made me happy to read this.  I hope you enjoy it too and wish her well!

My dear Friends!!!  Into the forest when the spring is coming... after the rain... when the wind comes with the smell of my memory from years ago... remind you something... something what is hard to call.   Like childhood happiness and fascination of walking trough the dark woods even on rainy days when the musk is green and the steps make no noise on the watersoaked ground of brown needles.  I'm dreaming a lot with open eyes and they coming... they coming to me one by one....  some of  the dreams become memories. Not only pictures but also memories of feelings and sometimes of smell.
A lot of good rides, lay down on the border of the woods with a picnic in the sack, watch the clouds I feel really like in the past, when I am riding is coming this impression that I have 16 again... I spoke with Agata what I see looking at my country now... and you know what?  I start to believe that the forest smell like that only in Poland... is a smell of my childhood... and my  happy time here... is funny... because when Zorro is running through the forest I am proud to show him all this... and he is just a horse can not understand a difference... so I am happy but veeeeeery busy... no time now for drawings... I have a car and I love it... I will send you a picture... Is just made for me... first because is black... and second when you will see you will know why.... I had already offer from very important stable for a job but I will stay with my friends because I promised... and also because i wanna try and also because I feel happy with them... for a course is possible that will be very near to my town... if not I have to go to Warsow... I miss you and our time together... sometime is like a dream for me... but my life is like this... and my dreams are beautiful.  It is warm during the day, some flowers will grow.  I feel like at home riding through the woods as I did long time ago.  Did the circle close?

Friday, May 11, 2012

No More Skippy

This is a sad, sad sight.  And a big hint. . . . (wink).