La Raccolta— Blog

La Raccolta — Blog of CASAGIOVE

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

The freshest…

Marinating Pancetta Shrimp by Patricia for Casagiove

Un posto a tavola // Summer 2016

Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy dining al fresco with family and friends. Dining al fresco is simply eating outside; it requires very little and has the ability to top off a beautiful day perfectly, to make an ordinary day more special, or to brighten up even the toughest of days.  In the spirit of al fresco dining, I like to keep the meal easy and tasty… add some hanging lights and a little rustic charm, pour a glass of rosé and you’re set!

 

Favorite Dinners

Pancetta Shrimp

Pancetta Shrimp has become one of our signature dishes. I first enjoyed a version of this dish at Market City Caffe in Pasadena many years ago. Bert and I had never had anything like it – succulent shrimp wrapped in salty pancetta with a subtle hint of bright herbs and sweet balsamic…ma che buono! We decided to ask the chef about it and he quickly listed some key ingredients – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs and pancetta. We made sure to take mental notes on the overall look and texture. Bert and I repeated the list all the way home (this was before smart phones) and wrote down a recipe on the first piece of paper we could find once we walked in the door.  After some trial and error, we perfected all the details (including who did what – I got the ingredients and did all the prep, while Bertie grilled the shrimp to perfection) and “took it on the road”. It was a hit at parties and soon became a top request by friends and family. It is still a favorite and a wonderful way to start out an al fresco meal. 

Shrimp wrapped in pancetta, marinating in olive oil, balsamic, garlic and herbs

 

 

0 from 0 votes
Print

Pancetta Shrimp

Pancetta Shrimp has become one of our signature dishes.  I first enjoyed a version of this dish at Market City Caffe in Pasadena many years ago. Bert and I had never had anything like it - succulent shrimp wrapped in salty pancetta with a subtle hint of bright herbs and sweet balsamic...ma che buono! We decided to ask the chef about it and he quickly listed some key ingredients - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs and pancetta. We made sure to take mental notes on the overall look and texture. Bert and I repeated the list all the way home (this was before smart phones) and wrote down a recipe on the first piece of paper we could find once we walked in the door.  After some trial and error, we perfected all the details (including who did what - I got the ingredients and did all the prep, while Bertie grilled the shrimp to perfection) and "took it on the road". It was a hit at parties and soon became a top request by friends and family. It is still a favorite and a wonderful way to start out an al fresco meal.
Course Appetizer
Servings 12 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs jumbo shrimp (U-12 or U-15) deveined and de-shelled, leave the tails on
  • 6 oz thinly-sliced pancetta
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil and flat leaf Italian parsley leaves coarsely chopped or torn
  • 2-3 cloves garlic sliced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a glass Pyrex dish, drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Top with the herbs and sliced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Then wrap each shrimp with a slice of pancetta and place on the marinade.  Top with another layer of marinade. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  2. About a half an hour or so before you are going to grill, take the shrimp out. Grill each side for 2 to 3 minutes - until the tail is pink.  A little char is nice, but be careful not to overcook them.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Grilled Pancetta Shrimp by Patricia for Casagiove

Grilled Pancetta Shrimp, ready to be eaten!

Pan-fried Chicken Breasts, come faceva Zia Emilia (like Zia Emilia used to make)

My Zia Emilia and Zio Ciccilio ran a farm in a small town called Santa Maria Capua Vetere in the Campania region of Italy.  Like most Italians, they were always ready to have you over for dinner.  No matter how last minute, how tired, how early or how late it was, you knew you could show up and be greeted with huge smiles, kisses for both cheeks and a satisfying meal. I have so many sweet memories from this special couple, but one of my all time favorites was the time we showed up because we ended up in the neighborhood, and my dear zia insisted we stay for a simple dinner.  We knew she was tired and had had a long day, so we tried with all our might to say no, but she wouldn’t take our “no” for an answer and whipped up the yummiest chicken for us. Although I could never make it as good as her (nor could I ever get chicken that fresh), I think she’d still be proud of my attempt. 

Pan-fried Chicken Breast, ready to be served

Pan-fried Chicken Breast, ready to be served

0 from 0 votes
Print

Pan-fried Chicken Breasts

Come faceva Zia Emilia (like Zia Emilia used to make)

Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 4-6 chicken breasts thinly sliced
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to taste
  • freshly chopped herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage...

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the chicken with a little olive oil and then season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. 
  2. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken, frying both sides until golden and cooked through. (This shouldn't take long!) One of my zia's tips is to not move the chicken while it is cooking and to only turn it once, so that you can achieve a beautiful golden crust. Sometimes, this can be hard to do... so once I put the chicken in the pan, I try to focus on something else like tidying up the counter or watering my herbs so that I am not tempted to fidget with the chicken. 
  3. Once you take the chicken out of the pan, drizzle a little more olive oil on top, along with some freshly squeezed lemon (or a little balsamic vinegar).

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

If you’d rather stick to grilling outside, I love this recipe from Martha Stewart using chicken thighs. And here’s a beautiful post, along with a great tip for grilling zucchine, from @pizzeriabianco:

This Summer your garden or farmers mkt will be soon in Zucchini overload , just a note on grilling I look for smaller firm ones my fav variety are the romanesco … These shown grown by @blueskyorganicfarms just a basic tip I find just slicing in half and grilling dry without oil (to prevent flare ups which can for me lead to off flavors) or salt (which draws moisture to flesh ) dry grilling will allow u to not only keep them longer on grill without burning but without the oil to insulate them I find it helps moisture to release easier creating a texture I like best slightly leathery but moisture still sealed … When off the grill (there done when they look done to time varies due heat and grill height ) when off the grill I then season quickly while hot w best quality extra virgin olive oil flaked sea salt turn of black pepper a pinch of crushed chilies (chiltepin) or what u have , a rough chop of basil , flat leaf parsley … A few smashed garlic cloves let all rest till just slightly warm or room temp …A squeeze of lemon juice is optional or a few drops of best quality balsamic vinegar I didn't use here i wanted a less acidic profile … Any way I had some time to kill and hope this helps some zucchini somewhere… cheers

A photo posted by Chris Bianco (@pizzeriabianco) on

Favorite Salad

Here’s a great salad for those dining-al-fresco evenings.

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

 

 

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

0 from 0 votes
Print

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

A great salad for those dining-al-fresco evenings. The Caesar dressing was passed along to me by my brother-in-law Jim, and we love that it is a little less creamy than traditional Caesar dressing.  The only ingredient I added was a little Tabasco sauce.

Course Salad
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 2-3 hearts romaine lettuce cut half lengthwise
  • Caesar Vinaigrette see below
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • freshly ground black pepper

Caesar Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic finely minced
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tsp Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce

Instructions

  1. Once the grill is nice and hot, place each romaine heart face down, and then flip 'em to get a little charring on the other side too.
  2. Top with vinaigrette, some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Favorite Flower

Chamomile

At this time of year, I love finding chamomile at my local Trader Joe’s. Summer is the time to slow down the pace and there’s nothing like the gentle honey scent of chamomile to help you do just that.  The delicate flowers are so lovely and instantly bring me to a field of wildflowers in the Lazio region of Italy.  This picture posted by @st_oliva captures the beauty and peacefulness of chamomile.

I recently added a sprig of chamomile with some twine, along with a handwritten Bible verse, to these paychecks. Not only does it look pretty, but I especially love that the sweet smell and words of encouragement can brighten up someone’s day.

Using Chamomile on Envelopes by Patricia for Casagiove

Favorite Saying

Butta la pasta! // Throw the pasta (in the water)!

Butta (pronounced boo- ta) la pasta translates to “throw the pasta”. When you are making pasta and it’s time to throw the pasta in*, that’s when you’ll hear this being enthusiastically yelled throughout the kitchen. Little kids, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents find the need to let the cook know “It’s time! It’s time to throw the pasta in the water!” And we all get a little bit closer to enjoying that satisfying and delicious plate of pasta.

*It’s when the water is boiling, all elements of the dinner are ready to go, and every guest has arrived (especially Papà) because it’s extremely important that we eat the pasta before it gets cold.

I got to thinking about this expression and why I love it so much.  I realized there is a lot wrapped up into these three words, and that it applies to even more than just making pasta. There are so many times in life, when we need to be patient, when we need to wait, when we wonder if the necessary conditions will ever be ready.  As the anticipation builds, the time finally comes and with it comes the joy of knowing that it’s time to move forward and to take that next step. You realize that all that waiting wasn’t in vain.  It’s a time to celebrate, and I love that Italians remind us to celebrate even the little things.  

As I continue to move forward with my dream of bringing CASAGIOVE, an Italian market experience to you, I am thankful for those “butta la pasta” moments – a new idea for a blog post, a new connection, a new lead, a conversation that encourages me to move forward…  I realize that all these moments are necessary steps in the process.  Knowing that the perfect conditions are just around the corner adds a richness to the waiting, and I look forward to the moment when I can share the final vision with all with you. 

Cin cin!

—Patriziella

Basket of Fresh Herbs by Patricia for Casagiove

Un posto a tavola // Spring 2016

Just the other day, I came across the phrase “deliziosamente verde” which translates to “deliciously green” and describes my appreciation for spring perfectly. Spring always makes me think of all those “deliciously green” things like fresh herbs growing near my kitchen window, classic Italian green sauces, yummy grilled salads, big juicy artichokes, and beautiful olive trees. 

Favorite Dinners

Thankfully, I finally understand my mom’s obsession with parsley.  After years of chopping it, watching her add it to many of our family dishes and giggling as she bit into it to freshen her breath, I am happy to say that I totally get it. (Grazie, Mamma!) And even better, Bert and the boys love it just as much as I do. Here are three different recipes incorporating parsley and other herbs that will brighten up any spring dinner.

“Deliciously Green” basket of fresh herbs

 

Spaghetti Prezzemolo, Aglio e Olio

Although this Italian classic is usually called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, spaghetti with garlic and oil, I have added “prezzemolo” to the name because to me, the parsley (prezzemolo in Italian) is just as important. I love Geoffrey Zakarian’s recipe because he addresses the importance of adding pasta water to the sauce and completing the cooking process of the pasta in that sauce. This technique is something I try to do whenever I make pasta; it makes such a difference. I add a couple more cloves of garlic and a bit more parsley than is listed; I also add a little sprinkle of chopped parsley, along with a drizzle of olive oil, right before serving. 

Spaghetti Prezzemolo, Aglio e Olio 2 by Patricia for Casagiove

Spaghetti Prezzemolo, Aglio e Olio, ready to be served

Salsa Verde

A couple of years ago, on a family road trip to San Francisco, we happened upon the coolest bookstore tucked away in a charming little neighborhood. It was there that I found what would become my favorite cookbook, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. It had me at the title and the next day, on our long eight hour drive home, I read the cookbook from cover to cover. Never had I felt so connected to a cookbook. It was filled with advice, encouragement, tips and a simple approach to food and cooking that spoke to my roots. One of my favorite lessons from that book is on the classic Italian green sauce, Salsa Verde. We love it on any grilled meat (but especially on steak), on grilled veggies, mixed in with our couscous, and even on our sandwiches. Each batch is a little different, which makes it even more fun. If I don’t have garlic, I use shallots… or if I am out of capers, I chop up some Castelvetrano olives and use that instead. The only must for me is a lot of fresh flat leaf parsley.  

Salsa Verde in a jar by Patricia for Casagiove

Salsa Verde in a jar

As Alice Waters mentions in her recipe, “other herbs or combinations of herbs can be used” so here is a version with a base of rosemary and thyme that our family enjoys too. It’s called Salmoriglio and this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis is so tasty!

Favorite Salad

Grilled Gem Salad

I just about love anything grilled, and lettuce is no exception. The other day, some baby gem lettuces caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to get home and make grilled salad for dinner. It’s so easy and doesn’t require much. I just cut each head of lettuce in half (or fourths would work too) and brush a bit of extra virgin olive oil on them. I season with some kosher salt and then grill each side on a grill pan. Then I drizzle a little more olive oil and some balsamic vinegar over the top and season a tad more with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Need a good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic? Try our olive oil and vinegar gift set, Condire, which can be found in La Bottega.)

Grilled Gem Salad with Olive Oil and Balsamic by Patricia for Casagiove

Grilled Gem Salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Favorite Encouragement

This Bible verse paints such a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and the beauty that can come from trusting in His plans for us.

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 

– Psalm 52:8

And last, but not least, I want to share with you my…  

Favorite Instagrammer

I recently started following an instagrammer from Napoli, @giovdor. She is able to capture so much of Napoli’s richness and beauty in each of her posts. Grazie @giovdor for bringing me home, even though I am miles away. 

“Deliziosamente verde”, deliciously green…

 

Deliziosamente verde

A photo posted by Giò (@giovdor) on

 

 

And her lovely thoughts on coffee…

 

Il caffè non è solo una bevanda, il caffè è una scusa, un motivo. La scusa per fermarsi un attimo, da soli o in compagnia. Per riflettere, per prendere forza. Il caffè ti tiene compagnia mentre studi, mentre lavori. È una scusa per parlare con qualcuno che ci sta a cuore. La scusa per passare un po’ di tempo con la persona che ci interessa. La possibilità dire “mi piace stare con te” senza usare le parole. Coffee is not just a drink, coffee for the Neapolitans is an excuse, a reason. The excuse to stop for a moment, alone or in company. To reflect, to gain strength. The coffee keeps you company while you study, as you work. It is an excuse to talk to someone who is important to us. The excuse to spend some ‘quality time with the person who interests us. A chance to say I like to be with you without words.

A photo posted by Giò (@giovdor) on

 

Cin cin!

—Patriziella

 

baby heirloom tomatoes and celery make an Inviting Bruschetta

Inviting Bruschetta

Italians have a way with words. Even one of the ways they say I love you, ti voglio bene,  translates to… I want good for you, implying  I care so much about you, that I wish the best for you.  Now that is a beautiful way to love others. They use words like bellissima, dolcissima and carissima to let you know how beautiful and sweet and dear you are to them. And their charm isn’t only restricted to their native tongue, it comes through just as loud and clear in English. Even though they may struggle with the intricacies of our cold language – the exceptions, the irregularities, the idioms, the weird blends (just try to ask an Italian to say “thank you” or “Thursday”), it doesn’t matter, they will find a way to make you smile. So, in that spirit, I share with you my recipe for…

Inviting Bruschetta 

What makes bruschetta inviting? Well, to be fair, bruschetta by it’s very own nature is pretty inviting – even in it’s purest form: a mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt placed on top of a piece of bread… that’s incredibly enticing, right? But, what about if you added a little something, just subtle enough to make you wonder what makes this bruschetta delightfully different?

My Nonna Cesidia would often add celery to her salads. It was a simple way to make an ordinary salad special. Both the stalk and leaves added a subtle earthiness, depth and texture. It’s that extra thought that makes it inviting. At first glance, the celery was hardly noticeable; it just blended in with the lettuce and most of us would never expect it… and yet, once you bit in and tasted the simple addition, it was the most intentional way to capture anyone’s attention… a simple gesture that lets someone know you care enough to make sure that every little detail has been taken care of.

baby heirloom tomatoes and celery make an Inviting Bruschetta

In fact, now that I think about it… that is probably why my dear cousin Nicola always chooses to use the word “inviting” to describe everything from someone’s smile to the Mediterranean Sea to a delicious dish.  It’s because Italians are always looking for ways to invite you to their tables, into their families, and ultimately into their hearts. 

So, won’t you try this recipe and invite someone over to enjoy it too?

 
0 from 0 votes
Print

Inviting Bruschetta

What makes bruschetta inviting? Well, to be fair, bruschetta by it's very own nature is pretty inviting - even in it's purest form: a mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt placed on top of a piece of bread... that's incredibly enticing, right? But, my Nonna Cesidia would often add celery to her salads. It was a simple way to make an ordinary salad special. Both the stalk and leaves added a subtle earthiness, depth and texture. It's that extra thought that makes this bruschetta inviting. 

Course Appetizer
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 1 handful baby heirloom tomatoes cut into fourths
  • 1-2 stalks celery baby stalks in the center with leaves are the best; diced
  • a little red onion to taste; diced
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2-3 leaves basil chiffonade- cut into thin ribbons
  • baguette slices grilled

Instructions

  1. Delicately mix all ingredients together.

  2. Place spoonfuls on grilled slices of crusty baguette... and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

 

Also, be sure to say broo-sKet-ta! Click below for a sample:


This post is part of a story collective where authors share their favorite Italian memories and recipes. Be sure to check out the guest post from LeAnn at l&l… Truffle Bruschetta:

Cote Sud, Dec2001-Jan2002, truffle 1[excerpt] On a six-week stay in Tuscany and while making my way through several recipe books in the cucina of my wee appartamento, I came across the English edition of “How to make Bruschette.”  It is a small, paperback book unremarkable in its appearance, but…


 

 

Grazie for sharing!