Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spring has arrived, and so have Easter, which came early this year! What is more befitting than to make everyone's favorite Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting...and the best part is to top it off with Shredded Sweetened Coconut, and the best...of the best part of this fabulous cake is
the Candied-Spiced Walnuts
which I happened to think of at the last minute! You can certainly skip the spice, and just go with the sweet, and crunchy glaze. Once they are dry and separated, it can be easy spread on the cake for decoration and an added yumminess that I guarantee will be the first to disappear before cutting the cake!


This was our first Easter holiday without family and friends, and not a very comforting feeling to all of a sudden just have a complete change. Just like from childhood, mine and yours perhaps, we can see the changes that are happening in our lives when it comes to the holidays that are spent with our loved ones and friends, and one day...everything changes, just like it did this year! Death of a loved one, family being separated from each other, dearest friends moving away across the United States whom you've been close to and spending the last 15 years each holiday, and now...gone, perhaps forever; very sad, but total reality which we must learn to adjust to!

Note: the only change I made to this recipe...I used 1 cup of canola oil (instead of 1 1/2 cup)...I omitted the sour cream. My addition was the shredded coconut, and the Candied Walnuts for decoration!

We have to appreciate everything in life...the small and simple things especially, family, friends, and our health, which is not to be taken for granted! Learn to be happy with ourselves, and one-another is the key to life's simple pleasures! I don't always have the energy or passion to cook and bake at home since this is what I have been doing for decades as a professional career, but I always make an exception to do my best for family and friends if the occasion calls for it. No holiday has gone by without my contribution to a special occasion, and that will always go on as long as I can physically make it happen. It brings me joy, and contentment to see the smiles on the faces of the people I love!
As the lyric of the song goes..."I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden"...we are not promised a rose garden, but we can certainly enjoy one, especially this particular one from 2 years ago when I visited extended family in Como, Italy. Could not believe my eyes, and how much joy it gave me to enjoy this beautiful little rose garden on a tiny little balcony overlooking a spectacular tall mountain, so actually I fared better, and I was promised a 'rose garden' ...and much more than that...love and devotion from a beautiful Italian family!
This beautiful white rose was from 'the actual' rose garden of Teresa...she so lovingly takes care of them, and they in return give so much peace and beauty for all eyes to gaze upon them!
I picked these gorgeous roses from the rose garden to put them in water, to enjoy!

As another saying goes..."stop and smell the roses"...yes indeed, you should take time to stop and smell the roses, whenever, wherever you might get the chance to do so. The only ones that really matter with such a beautiful perfume fragrance of their own are the ones that are naturally growing in a garden, and when you get the chance, don't pass them by!

I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to enjoy 'life's simple pleasures'...like this gorgeous scene looking out from the back of the house...never, ever, pass up the opportunity to find beauty in nature which are the simplest gifts from nature. You will never see the most beautiful healthy and the tallest pine trees, like in northern Italy, in the Como, and Lago di Como region. I was fortunate to spend 2 weeks there and loved every minute of it. I am so happy to share this with all my blogger friends!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bistecca Alla Pizzaiola-{Steak Pizzaiola}

You're probably wondering what the heck is a Steak Pizzaiola...when pizza has nothing to do with this dish, paired with steak. A little history on this hearty and delicious dish that was so popular in Italian-American homes in the seventies and eighties. I've often made this dish as well, for my family, but have made the steak totally different, using a cheaper cut of beef, pounding the meat thin, sautéing  it, and braising it, smothering the steak with the cooked tomato sauce, along with the onions, garlic, and peppers. This was the only way that was prepared, not using the better cut of the beef...such as N.Y. strip or T-bone, that would also be smothered in the sauce at the end.
Actually there really wasn't a real recipe for the Steak Pizzaiola back then...we just cooked great foods from 'handy-me-down' word of mouth and wrote it down; but the basic ingredients are whole tomatoes, (I switched it to diced) pepperoncini (the Italian pickled peppers which I skipped)...and/or bell peppers red-yellow-orange, sweet onions sliced, and garlic sliced. You can also add sliced mushrooms which goes great with the addition of the other vegetables. In my opinions, of mozzarella cheese would be added...then I would think of it as a pizzaiola sauce.

The originality of this dish started out in Naples, Italy, just like the pizza originates from Naples, as far back as the late 1800's.
All you need with this hearty dish is a nice loaf of crusty bread to mop up the sauce and enjoy those perfectly sautéed vegetables. To me, having a more up-to-date presentation makes this dish more appetizing, and attractive as well!

Bistecca Alla Pizzaiola-{Steak Pizzaiola}
recipe by; Elisabeth

1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper
cored, seeded and sliced into strips
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 med. sweet onion sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic sliced thin
2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-14 ounce diced canned tomato
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
1 or 2 N.Y. strip, rib-eye, or T-bone steak

In a large skillet, heat the oil until it sizzles on med-high heat. Add the garlic slices, and the onion slices sautéing them until they sizzle. Add the bell peppers, and the oregano at this time, to infuse the flavor. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the mushroom slices and sauté for about a few minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of water and cook for about another  10 minutes.

Now you can add the diced tomatoes (I added spicy red pepper) you can add crushed red pepper if you don't find this type, or omit the red pepper if you don't want it spicy!

Add the tomatoes to the skillet, and add the 1/2 cup of red wine. You can add about 1/2 of the water to the can, swish it and add that as well.

(you can omit the wine, and add more water 1/2 cup extra)


Bring the sauce with the vegetables to a simmer
and cook for another 15 minutes, until the pepper get soft and the sauce thickens. Set it aside, and keep it warm.








Season the steak (s) with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet, or a grill pan, and sear the steaks over high heat, covering it if it lets out too much
smoke. I seared mine for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium, but you can sear it 2 minutes for rare, or about 5 minutes on each side for medium-well.

Let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing it thin, across the grain, or leaving it whole.

To Serve:
You can pile the sauce and peppers on top (the old fashioned way...or gently place the slices of the steak on top of the sauce and vegetables.
Crusty bread makes it even better, or you can cook some rice to serve as a full course, along with some salad greens...yumm!
Serve while it's hot!




 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

One of my favorite 'comfort food' pasta is Orecchiette, with (Rappini)=Broccoli Rabe. Most recipes call for ground sausage added to it, and/or pancetta; but my favorite addition for color, and flavor is sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, and slivered. Not chopped, but slivered, to actually be able to bite into the bitter-sweet-savory soft tomato that goes so well with the sautéed broccoli rabe.
The health benefits of Broccoli Rabe, are endless!
 Health Benefits of Rapini (Broccoli Rabe):


  • Increased Protection from Bacterial and Viral Infections
  • Increased Immune Function
  • Reduced Cancer Risk
  • Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer
  • Protection Against Heart Disease
  • Regulation of Blood Sugar and Insulin Dependence
  • Slowing the progression of AIDS
  • Slowing Aging
  • DNA Repair and Protection
  • Protection Against Dementia
  • Alleviation of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Alleviation of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Promoted Eye Health
  • Alzheimer's Protection
  • Osteoporosis Protection
  • Stroke Prevention
  • Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes
  • Reduced Frequency of Migraine Headaches
  • Alleviation of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
  • Antioxidant Protection
  • Prevention of Epileptic Seizures
  • Alleviation of the Common Cold
  • Prevention of Alopecia (Spot Baldness)
  • Alleviation of Inflammation
Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)...despite having the similar looking broccoli floret, is actually the descendant of the turnip and thought to have originated in China, or the Mediterranean. The Broccoli Rabe is bitter, with a sharp taste. It is often prepared steamed, with lemon, or garlic.
Read more: Health-Alicious-Ness.com

Here are a few recipe sources: Although I have my own, which is quite similar!
Whole Foods Market...Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Sun-dried tomatoes and White Beans
Lidia's Italy...Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
Food.com...Broccoli Rabe with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Orecchiette


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Elisabeth's version of this recipe

1 bunch of Broccoli Rabe...abt. 1 to 2lbs

wash thoroughly in cold water, cut hard ends off, and cut the entire bunch in three sections.



In small amount of water, with/or without a steam basket, steam with lid on, until it starts to get wilted. strain in colander and run cold water over it to stop the cooking process.










about 1/2 cup or more sun-dried tomatoes that is in olive oil. Slice each tomato in about 3 pieces, lengthwise and set aside.





not shown in photo: cut 3 cloves of garlic in half, and sauté in 3 Tblsp. of extra virgin olive oil until golden brown. Discard garlic. Saute about 1 Tblsp. of red chilli flakes, and leave it in oil.

Cook orecchiette pasta in rapidly boiling water, till al-dente. Save 1 cup of the cooking water...very important!





Saute the strained broccoli rabe in the garlic infused olive oil. Add the sun-dried tomatoes,
the strained pasta, add more olive oil to your liking, salt and pepper.


Give it a good stir to incorporate all the ingredients, add the reserved cooking water, a about 1/4 at a time...you can use the entire amount if you like it more saucy; add grated Parmigiano-Reggiana cheese, and serve.
You can add extra cheese when serving, along with additional freshly ground black pepper.
Buon Appetitio! Ciao:)
 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Luscious Lemon Bars...and more of Italy!

The third day I was in Italy, I decided that I want to make something truly American, since the family was asking me to make a Cheesecake...which I was not too excited about making since its so time consuming and their Philadelphia cream cheese is not nearly as good, as ours and it is way more expensive. I had a torn out page from a Southern Living magazine that had the amazing Lemon Bars and since I had the American measuring cup and spoons there I decided to make it...really well worth the short time and effort.
Never, in my wildest dreams did I think that these lemon bars would be such a huge 'hit' with the family. They have never even heard of Lemon Bars...not alone taste it! I tell you, the butter there is superb and so rich, smooth and naturally sweet. I purchased the 'farmer butter' which was in the local supermarket and proceeded to make the crust first...then the filling with the freshest farm eggs, and fresh lemon juice. This is a 'failproof' recipe if you follow it correctly. For all you 'lemon lovers'...this is a huge treat!

Here's the recipe for the Luscious Lemon Bars from Southern Living

Linking to:Thursday Favorite Things @ Katherines Corner

While I was preparing my lemon bars, Teresa was busy making her traditional Italian Sweet Bread
I can't explain...but this really isn't like a Challah bread, its more of a texture of cookie dough when it is done.
Fresh out of the oven...for every day Teresa would have some kind of breads or sweets done homemade...of course.
See what I mean about the texture? Simple, just the right sweetness...so good with coffee or tea!
Isn't this patio the sweetest and most charming?... with all the potted plants and some herbs. Their condo is so awesome, great patio all around, and gorgeous view of the little town.
Teresa just working her 'magic' in her little galley kitchen...but then she has a larger second kitchen downstairs where she makes her homemade salami and cured hams.
I love this photo...a view from their kitchen window...such pretty little curtains, as well!
 

 
They even have door-to-door delivery for fresh produce by a local farmer.
...and here's the little open produce truck pulled up to the building entrance.
A gorgeous and serene view from the back of the building...neighbor's tree, huge fern tree which is all over growing so high, and so beautiful.
A short walking distance scene from my daily walks.

The little brook, close up!
Such a pretty scene of the brook!
I snapped this photo overlooking from the little bridge in that same neighborhood, behind is the brook...you can hear the water fall over the rocks...such a soothing sound!
 See what I mean?...total awesomeness!