La Raccolta— Blog

La Raccolta — Blog of CASAGIOVE

The CASAGIOVE blog– a collection of stories, updates, recipes, special events and more! 

The freshest…

Un posto a tavola // Transitioning to spring

I have noticed a little “spring” in my step. Yes, it’s that time of the year and I feel myself yearning to make the transition to warmer weather, lighter clothes and fresher fare. I am enjoying the dark mornings, knowing that my evenings will be bright. It feels great to wear my trusty jean jacket, instead of my heavier peacoat or army jacket with lining and hoodie. I get to bring out linen sweaters and start incorporating white jeans and sandals into my daily wardrobe. It’s a beautiful time, brimming with so much hope — flowers, green hills, vacations, sun-kissed skin and more time with loved ones. In thinking about this beautiful transition in terms of food, I have decided that rosemary is the perfect herb to help me transition to my favorite spring flavors. It’s got the heartiness, warmth and comfort that I am not quite ready to give up and just enough of the herb-y fresh goodness that I am craving more and more of. I have become obsessed with this herb in the last month and thought I would share some recipes that highlight it’s deliciousness to help you make the transition to spring too.

Favorite Dinners

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My word for 2017 is…

Andiamo!

Wait…ANDIAMO? When the new year arrived, I realized I hadn’t decided what my word for 2017 would be. Last year, it was present, and having that word as a frame of reference proved to be helpful. Referring to it became the gentle nudge I needed when I started to revert to worrying again. I actually got better at living in the present. (Brava, Patriziella!) So, I wanted to keep it up and started to think…

The first word that came to mind was andiamo, the Italian word for “Let’s go!”. I laughed out loud. What am I doing thinking in Italian? I mean, I like that I am, but who do I think I am? I’m thinking in Italian now?

Okay…so maybe I am making some progress. BUT the introvert and homebody in me didn’t think andiamo could be the word for me. Do I have to go somewhere? Do I need to get out more? Probably. But do I want to? Not really… So, I kept thinking and searching for other possible words. And the word that kept coming back was andiamo. Okay, fine, I decided, I will give it a chance. I went to the computer and searched andiamo. 

Here’s what came up first:

The word andiamo means let’s go. Another version of it is andare which could just be used as go. This is a very colloquial term in the Italian language and is used often.

So there is more to this word. This is definitely promising. I will keep searching.

Here is what came up next:

Coraggio! (Have courage! Take heart!)

Aaah. Now I am starting to understand why this is my word.

Let’s go, as in onward, forward…

I do need to keep moving forward and not let fear take over.

Come on! (as a mild scolding) 

Yes, I need to remember to not take life too seriously. 

Acceptance. Get real. 

Oh right, you can’t move forward unless you accept where you’re at. 

Hurry up! Let’s get going!

Wow, this word is really speaking to me now. Okay, I get it. 

My word for 2017 is andiamo.

Patricia, pronta ad andare! // Patricia, ready to go!

A couple days later, we went to my mom’s house to take down her Christmas decorations. She was so happy to see us, but I could tell something was bothering her. Sure enough, she hadn’t slept well the night before because she didn’t have time to go to the store to get all she needed to make us a proper dinner. I reminded her we weren’t expecting her to cook for us, and that we were still full from all the eating over the holidays, etc. However, she was determined to feed us and had come up with a solution just moments before we arrived. “Pizzelle. You’ve been wanting me to make pizzelle. You need to learn how to make pizzelle!” She continued, “They are simple, tasty, filling (hearty) and perfect for taking on a picnic or to a swim meet… for whenever you are going…”

How did she know? Grazie di cuore, Mamma. Andiamo!

My mom calls this particular dish Pizzella (not to be confused with the waffle-like cookies known by the same name), but it is more commonly known as Frittata di Spaghetti. It’s like an omelette made with spaghetti and so delicious. It had been awhile since she had made one, but what a joy to see her in her element, cooking away. As we sat down to eat and enjoy the crispy texture and yumminess, she looked at me and said, “It’s good, but it needs a little more seasoning, a little more flavor.” I suggested, “How about adding some pancetta?” She loved that idea and lovingly assured me, “You’ll know what to do. You’ll make it even better.”

So, in honor of my mamma and in the spirit of going, here’s my recipe for Frittata di Spaghetti or Pizzella.

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Frittata di Spaghetti

My mom calls this particular dish Pizzella, but it is more commonly known as Frittata di Spaghetti. It's like an omelette made with spaghetti and so delicious. This frittata is simple, tasty, hearty and perfect to take on a picnic or whenever you are on the go. 

Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • 6 eggs large
  • 3 tbsp Pamigiano-reggiano grated
  • 2 tbsp Pecorino Romano grated
  • 2 tbsp chives finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb spaghetti or spaghettini cooked al dente
  • 8 oz ciliegine whole milk fresh mozzarella quartered
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf Italian parsley roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan, saute the pancetta in a little olive oil until crispy; drain on paper towels.

  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.

  3. Add the cheeses, salt, pepper, chives, and pancetta. Stir. 

  4. Add the cooked spaghetti (giving the spaghetti time to cool if you made it fresh; you can add a little olive oil to the spaghetti to keep it from sticking together) and mix well.

  5. Heat some olive oil (enough to coat the bottom) in a 9-inch cast iron frying pan.

  6. Add the spaghetti mixture, leveling the top.  Cook over medium heat until the frittata is set and golden brown. Shaking the pan occasionally helps to keep the frittata from sticking.

  7. Once the bottom of the frittata is browned, place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes. The top should be golden brown and crispy too. Remove from oven.

  8. Cool slightly. Sprinkle the parsley on top, then cut into eighths (like a pizza) and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

I like to cut the frittata into eighths, like a pizza. It tastes even better the day after and travels well. Wrap it up in a cloth towel or deli paper and tie some twine around it for that extra special touch. 

Frittata, ready to be eaten!

A frittata di spaghetti travels well, perfect for a picnic.

Allora, facciamo la frittata di spaghetti e andiamo! // So, let’s make a spaghetti omelette and go!

Cin cin!

—Patriziella

 

 

 

 

Sugo di Carne made by Patricia for CASAGIOVE

Un posto a tavola // Autumn 2016

I love this time of year— it’s my favorite, actually. I love that it’s starting to get a little cooler and a bit more crisp out. I love the excitement of going back to school and the hope that comes with it…
 
More than anything— this stems from my parents. They were both immigrants and the opportunity that America afforded was not to be taken lightly. My dad, especially, wanted me to make the most of all the possibilities out there. He had me writing on a chalkboard at a very young age and read to me constantly. He passed away when I was four, just before I started school, but I’m so thankful that he thought to prepare me and in a short time, instilled a love for learning that continues to this day. That love is no doubt why I became a teacher, and why I dream of ‘teaching’ and sharing my love of Italian food and culture in my very own market. 
 
With the cooler weather upon us, there is the return of a comforting routine: gathering together around a table each evening with heartier meals, bundling up for football games, cuddling on the sofa as a family before going to bed, and some more of my favorite fall things…

Jump to a recipe:
Spaghetti Bolognese
Baby Kale with Caesar Lime Vinaigrette
Insalata di Rucola e Funghi

Favorite Dinners

When it comes to hearty meals, it just doesn’t get any more comforting and satisfying than pasta with meat sauce. In the southern part of Italy, making meat sauce on Sundays is what you do, and it’s one of the sweetest southern Italian traditions my mom ever shared with me. The smell of a meat sauce bubbling on the stove for hours fills a home with love, and the deliciousness brings everyone to the table. My mom’s meat sauce will always be my favorite. Although I have made it alongside her for years, making her meat sauce on my own has proven to be frustrating. To me, it never tastes as good as hers; I can’t help but compare. So, I continue to work on my own version, keeping in mind the important lessons she embedded in the process along the way:

Take your time. My mom would wake up, enjoy her espresso and then begin prepping. It’s important not to feel rushed when making a meat sauce. She knew it was an investment and it was worth it. The flavors take time to develop and meld. Taking shortcuts doesn’t work.

Enjoy yourself. When making sauce with my mom, we often played music in the background. We talked and laughed. We would taste along the way, savoring each bite. Making sauce never felt like a chore; on the contrary, it was always something I looked forward to doing.   

Have confidence. Invest in the best ingredients.  We would make extra trips to make sure we got her favorite brands and the freshest components. We checked each item carefully and never compromised on quality. When you use the best, you can be confident about the final product.

 

Meat Sauce, bubbling on the stove

Spaghetti Bolognese by Patricia for CASAGIOVE

Spaghetti Bolognese, ready to be served

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Spaghetti Bolognese

Although my Southern Italian style meat sauce, called sugo di carne by some, ragù by others and salsa con carne by my mom, is still in the works, here is a recipe for another type of meat sauce from the north that I love making and eating. I have combined elements from both Tyler Florence's and Alice Water's recipes, and incorporated techniques my mom taught me, in order to create my own delicious take on this classic dish.
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes blended
  • 1 14- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes blended
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • kosher salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • mascarpone cheese
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • 3-5 leaves basil chiffonade

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and a little crushed red pepper.

  2. Add pancetta until crisp and browned. Then add the celery, onion and carrots. Allow the soffrito time to cook and soften. This will help build a lot of flavor. 

  3. Next, add in the garlic for about a minute. Then, add in the ground beef and veal, making sure to use a wooden spoon to break it up until the meat is no longer pink. 

  4. Add the wine and give it time to evaporate before adding in the tomatoes. 

  5. Mix the stock and milk together in another container and then add about a third of this mixture, lower the heat and simmer very slowly for 3-4 hours. During this time, as the liquid lessens, continue to add more of the milk and stock mixture, until you use it all. Taste often and continue to season with salt and pepper as needed. 

  6. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti. Mix the spaghetti with the sauce and then top with a drizzle of olive oil, a little more sauce, a dollop of mascarpone cheese, some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few ribbons of basil. 

  7. Serve with a simple salad, fresh bread and red wine.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Favorite Salads

Here are two perfect salads to help you transition into fall…

Baby Kale with a Caesar Lime Vinaigrette

Bertie and I recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary in New York. We went to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden; it was a once in a lifetime, bucket list type of thing to do and we had an amazing time. While there, we stumbled upon a unique restaurant cafe, Gelso and Grand, in Little Italy. It caught our eye because it didn’t look like all the others. It was stylish without being cheesy; rustic with a touch of elegance; and the food was simple and delicious – all these things made it quintessentially Italian and it instantly became our go to for the next couple of days. We enjoyed aperol spritzers there to help beat the heat, charcuterie and cheese plates for the perfect bite and a Kale Caesar that had us swooning. Their version of a Caesar salad was different from any we had ever tasted before. The heartiness of the kale was perfectly complemented by the heat of the peppers, the acidity of the lime and the nuttiness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Such a creative and delightful salad!

Check out our new #Kale #Caesar with thin Serrano chillies and fresh grated #Parmesan #myfab5

A photo posted by Gelso & Grand (@gelsoandgrand) on

 

We were determined to replicate this perfect salad when we got home. Here is my version; we think it’s almost as yummy as its inspiration…

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Baby Kale with a Caesar Lime Vinaigrette

Inspired by a new spin on a Caesar salad from Gelso and Grand, in Little Italy of New York— the heartiness of the kale perfectly complements the heat of the pepper, the acidity of the lime and the nuttiness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Such a creative and delightful salad!

Course Salad
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 3-4 handfuls baby kale
  • 1/2 jalapeño sliced paper thin
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved

For the Caesar Lime Vinaigrette, whisk together the following:

  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 limes (the juice and zest of)
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss everything together and top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com


Insalata di Rucola e Funghi
 
Insalata di Rucola e Funghi, simple and delicious

Insalata di Rucola e Funghi, simple and delicious

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Insalata di Rucola e Funghi

Arugula Salad with Mushrooms. This salad is incredibly easy to make and so full of flavor!

Course Salad
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • arugula
  • crimini mushrooms sliced
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • fresh squeeze of lemon
  • kosher salt
  • parmigiano-reggiano shaved

Instructions

  1. Simply top arugula with the sliced mushrooms. Drizzle with the olive oil first (this will help to protect the arugula from the acidity of the lemon), then squeeze lemon juice over it. 

  2. Sprinkle with kosher salt and top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Favorite Flower

Nothing says fall more beautifully than stalks of wheat. There is something about the texture and color of both fresh and dried versions that instantly warms up a space. Here are two pictures that capture its warmth and loveliness. 

https://instagram.com/p/BIZN8UEgmnD/

A bundle of wheat can warm up any room.

A bundle of wheat can warm up any room.

Favorite Saying

Tutti a tavola! // Everyone to the table!

When it’s time to eat in Italy, you will often hear the phrase “Tutti a tavola!” which means “Everyone to the table!”. Pronounced too-TEE ah tah-voh-la, it is fun to say and a great reminder of how important it is to take time out of our busy days to connect with one another. Similar to our “Time to eat!”, but the emphasis is more on coming together rather than eating. Sure the food brings us to the table, but the conversations and interactions keep us there. From heartfelt confessions to countless giggles, from sincere thankfulness to animated stories… these meaningful connections bind us in a special way.  

When we remodeled the kitchen/dining/living area in our small home, we planned the whole space around a ten foot table. I’m sure some people thought we were crazy, but we had to make room for that table. And each night as we gather around that table, I am reminded why I am so glad we did.

Take time to express your love with a simple “Tutti a tavola!” today. 

Cin cin!

—Patriziella 

Grazie for sharing!