Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Fall

I know I am a little late to welcome the fall.  I am also lagging on posting here, but for good reason.  Wine and Food and Dogs.  I am really busy tasting wine, making food and working in rescue, and I have neglected my blog.  We just passed the grape harvest and the making of the new wines.  Right now we are picking olives for olive oil.  Here are some photos of what has been going on.

Picking grapes for the 2011 Roèt
I found her with no fur while taking a walk.  Now she is a jewel.  
2nd kitten of the summer Bon Jovi
Fall means TRUFFLES!

My South-West version of Mylène's Lentil Burgers:

Ettore and I tried La Margutta a veg restaurant in Rome:  Great Food!

My Grilled Seitan at la Margutta

Sadly, this is one of two dogs we rescued this summer.  He is getting better but he is looking for his forever home.  TITO!
Picking Olives
I can't believe this comes from out land!
Ettore combing the trees
I am pretty happy with myself! This will be made into oil in a day or so.
Curing some of our olives
AWFUL tasting we attended
Bavetta the 13 year old grumpy lady we adopted.  We are twin souls

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Linguine con Finferli-Linguine with Chanterelle

We've just returned from an amazing vacation in the Dolomites, which are located in Alto Adige, the region in Italy that borders with Austria.  It was an inspiring vacation that I took with my husband and two of my dogs, Chardonnay and Bellone Benny Boo Boo.  There are incredible flower and vegetable gardens in every yard I saw, all perfectly groomed and manicured.  You can eat while on the run as well.  I hiked in one forest and picked wild strawberries for about 2 km.  These were wild uncultivated strawberries that changed my life in a serious way.  I now know what a strawberry really is and trust me; it ain't those giant cultivated ones you find in supermarkets such as Whole Foods.  No, these were tiny and had intense aromas and flavor.  Tiny strawberries on crack, in my opinion.  

    Then, of course, there is the scenery.  Have you ever seen The Sound of Music?  The hills really are alive.  Every turn you make is like a picture perfect postcard.  So much green and so much clean fresh air invigorates the soul.  I had not been back to the Dolomites since 2008.  It was in the Dolomites that I made a connection with the cow that changed my life, when I was determined once and for all to make my life animal free.  I came back from this trip with more determination.  I feel healthy, reinvigorated and alive.  The Alps must be on a vortex!
       Alto Adige is the northern most region in Italy.  It has the Dolomites and also a great wine making tradition.  In fact, the lovely Gewurztraminer comes from Alto Adige.   In some ways the culture is more Germanic than Italian, but when it comes to the food, just like in every other region, they are experts with local ingredients.  In Alto Adige it was harder than most other regions in Italy to be vegan, because they rely on dairy for almost everything.  There are cows in the fields eating Alpine grass and you encounter cows on your walks up the mountains.  Luckily, it is a heavily forested area and gorgeous vegan local products are, in fact, readily available.  Unlike other regions in Italy, Alto Adige and, I suspect, most of the other Alpine areas, has a variety of fresh and delicious mushrooms available in the summer.  One night of rain and you're practically swimming in them.  We had an apartment rather than a hotel.  It was better for nights when I wanted to cook, and it was much better with for the dogs.  Please enjoy this yummy version of Linguine con Finferli

   Linguine con Finferli
Ingredients for 4 people

500 grams of fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsn of dry vegetable broth
I can of peeled whole tomatoes
3-5 tbsn of olive oil 
Splash of white wine
Course Himalaya Salt for the pasta water
1 tbsn chopped flat leaf parsley to toss in at the end
1 packet of linguine
pot of boiled and salted water

Directions:  First, you will need a deep pan.  Put the olive oil, splash of wine, broth and garlic in the pan and sautè for a few minutes until  garlic softens.  Then add the can of tomatoes.  Fill the can with water and also put the water in the pan with the rest of the ingredients.  Let this simmer on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile bring water to a boil in a large pot, add the salt for the pasta and cook the linguine.  As soon as you place the linguine in the pot and have stirred in a few times, stir in the mushrooms to the pan along with the garlic, olive oil, wine and broth.  Simmer at a low to medium heat while the pasta is cooking at the same time.  When the pasta becomes al dente, drain and replace in the the pot.  Stir in about 3/4 of the mushroom recipe into the pasta and the parsley.  Serve in bowls and garnish with the rest of the mushrooms on top of the pasta.  You can also include a garnish of parsley.  Serve with a lovely Teraldogo.  
Buon Appetito!

Foradori 2008 Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT Teroldego

The Real Stars of the trip:

Bellone Benny Boo Boo

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Orecchiette con Cime di Rape-Orecchiette with Turnip Tops

Orecchiette con Cime di Rape
  We are in the process of re-roofing and so I have been making lunch daily for Ettore and our friend, Roberto, who is helping us with this.  I figure it is the least I can do for them as they burn under the hot August sun.  Our friend, however, has a few products he cannot eat such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and peppers in general, eggplant and potatoes.  It is summer (time for these products).  I have a garden (need to eat these vegetables).  I am in Italy (tomato allergy aaahhhhhh).  What to make?  Yesterday I made lovely pasta with a basil almond pesto.  Today I made orecchiette. 

    I have always liked the texture of Orecchiette, and I like that we buy them fresh, and they do not have egg.  Broccoli Rape are turnip tops and is called  Cime di Rape in Italy.  I have to admit that before I moved here I did not eat anywhere near the amount of leafy greens I do now.  There are so many varieties and often, it just takes going out to your nearest field to gather some.  However, many of the field greens I eat here are very bitter.  While I have grown to absolutely LOVE the bitter field greens, I always feel that the rape is a nice sweeter treat.  Much nicer to eat than spinach with less of a mushy mouth feel. 
According to Wikipedia:
Orecchiette (singular: orecchietta) is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Italian orecchio means ear, and the suffix 'etto' means 'small'. In the vernacular of Taranto it is called recchietedd, or chiancaredd. A slightly flatter version is called 'cencioni', while in the vernacular of Bari, strascinate are more similar to cavatelli. In China a similar type of pasta is called maoerdo (cat's ears).
An 'orecchietta' is a disc of about 2 cm (¾ inch) and looks like a small dome with its center thinner than its edge and with a rough surface. Like other kinds of home-made pasta, orecchiette are made with durum wheat, water and salt, but unlike pasta all'uovo, eggs are rarely used in the preparation of orecchiette
Couldn’t have said it better myself!  It was a delightful lunch, though I usually add red pepper flakes when I make it, but I didn’t this time for the sake of our friend.
Ingredients for 2-4 servings:
½ kilo of Broccoli Rape already trimmed of stems and blanched
½ kilo of fresh orecchiette
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 tbsn of olive oil
Splash of white wine
1 tbsn of vegetable broth powder
Sea salt
½ cup of water
Large pot for boiling water
   In a deep pan, sauté the garlic in olive oil, white wine and broth, about 2-3 minutes. If you want yours to be spicy I would add about 2 tspn of red pepper flakes.   Add the water and the broccoli rape and stir well for about 2 minutes, add salt, and then cook and cover for about 5, until tender.  Meanwhile bring water to a boil and add about 1 tbpn of course sea salt.  I like to use Celtic sea salts because of the minerality.  When the water comes to a boil add the pasta, which will sink to the bottom.  When they float to the top, it means they are ready, but I would taste anyway and taste that they are al dente.  It is super easy and a great way to get your daily greens. 

Here is a very interesting video describing a pugliese method for making this dish.  A little more time consuming, but I have had them this way, while obviously omitting the cheese,  and they are incredible!

I would enjoy this with a lovely rosato from Puglia.  Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beet Anemia

I think I am slightly funny with the title on this blog.  

My life has not been perfect in the past couple of months.  I am having a flare-up of the Crohn's Disease, and I am anemic.  This, of course, has nothing to do with my veganism, but the Crohn's disease itself, despite what doctors tell me.  Anyway, I have been having great results with my blood tests with juices made with my new Champion juicer that my awesome hubby bought for me for my birthday.  

Sarah May's Beet Anemia Juice:
You will blend in the juicer 1 large beet, 4 carrots, 2 apples, 4 kiwis, a handful of kale, 1/2 a lemon and two pears.  For added spice, I like to add about half of an inch of ginger root.  

The juice is the most beautiful red-purple color I have ever seen, and after drinking it I feel alive with all the enzymes and iron and Vitamin C.  My blood results have come out much better than expected.  An added bonus is that I get all the benefits of the fruits and vegetables without having to consume copious amounts of fiber.  Fiber can be the devil to a person with Crohn's disease.  I refuse to succumb to the false notion that one needs animal products for iron.  Vitamin C and Iron work synergistically together, so when I have a flare-up or Crohn’s and anemia (the two are usually present at the same time) I increase my Vitamin C uptake from natural sources. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Willie Nelson, yo.

    I can't believe I haven't posted about our sweet friend, Willie Nelson.  We adopted him a few months ago, I believe in March.  Ettore went down to Caserta to adopt him because he was short listed to be euthanized if he stayed in the "shelter."  the lady who rescued him found him wandering about on the freeway, covered in scabs, crusts and with no hair.  He was so weak, poor guy.  His angel took him, but she already had an apartment full of dogs and cats and so she kept him in the courtyard of her building.
She couldn't take him the the "canile" because he would have been euthanized only for the fact that he is sick with Leishmania, a disease that affects the kidneys, skin and organs, and that left untreated, can be deadly.  It also causes severe Anemia.  Since he was ill, the commune di Caserta did not think he was worth the €3 a day it would take to keep him alive, so, this woman tried to find a place for him.

Willie as he was rescued.  He was just a hairless bag of bones

       We found him on Facebook, and realized he was just too shabby and pathetic to turn away.  He was so weak and tired.  Ettore and Valentina picked him up and bropught him home, and when I got him out of the car, it was LOVE at first sight.  He is a real simple little guy.  When we got him he was weak and just slept all day, he couldn't even jump on the sofa.  He didn't have his fur and one of his legs was so atrophied, he walked with a limp.  He is also cross-eyed.  So in essence, not an example of a dog who is winning any beauty prizes.  I don't care.  He was the red headed stranger.  
When he first came, he would sneak out of the warm  house and go way down to the barn to sleep in a pathetic little ball, shivering.  He had a complete distrust of humans.  Understandable, in my opinion.

Willie convelecing

     He will be on lifelong medicine to control the Leishamnia, but we got him well with about 6 different types of pills, including B Complex and Omega 3s for the skin.  Now he gallops when we go on walks, he cuddles with us, he retires at night to sleep on a bed of pillows.  He loves snacks, and is is a pure joy.  We think is is actually quite young since his demeaner is so puppy-like.
With Willie Nelson, our family is a now complete.  The pack family is now in harmony, and I look forward to sharing many many years of my life with Willie.

Willie with his new friend, Flora

Monday, June 27, 2011

Risotto alle Fragole Nemese-Nemi Style Strawberry Risotto

       A couple of weeks ago I hosted some of my friends for a lunch at my house.  Now that it is nice and warm, we are enjoying lunches outside in the gazebo.  The Castelli Romani seemed to be swimming in strawberries at that point, with street vendors on every corner and a strawberry festival in both Genzano di Roma (Landi) and in Nemi.  I didn't end up going to the one in Nemi due to rain, but it is a fantastic traditional sagra that I always enjoy.  
     Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, and I am always happy when strawberry season arrives.  Nothing beats a fresh, ripe strawberry that is chilled on a hot summer day.  They are also versatile.  I wanted to make a strawberry main dish that was not sweet.  When you are swimming in strawberries, after awhile strawberries and chocolate and strawberry desserts can get tedious.  When I first met Ettore, he worked at a restaurant at Nemi, and the first time I went there and saw the view over Lago di Nemi, I fell in love with this magical place I live in.  The owner and chef had a special creation of strawberry risotto that was unique and divine, but also rich and full of cream, which always made me sick.  I have been wanted to recreate this dish veganized for years, and now, finally, after many trials, I have accomplished my goal.  A fine rendition of Risotto alle Fragole Nemese-Nemi Style Strawberry Risotto.  A super creamy, savory, and unique dish that celebrates the best of Nemi.  

You will want to use a deep dish pan; I use one that is similar to a wok.  It is easier to control.  You will also need a food processor.  Time is about 30-40 minutes.

Ingredients for 6:

½ cup of olive oil
Splash of any aromatic white wine.  I use Frascati
3 ½ cups of Arborio rice (or other rice you like to use for risotto)
450 g of strawberries
¼ of a large yellow onion
½ of a vegetable bouillon cube or a tspn of vegetable bouillon powder
Tbsp of course Celtic salt or course pink Himalaya salts
1 cup of organic heavy soy cream


-Take the strawberries, ¼ onion, salt, olive oil and wine and process in food processor until fully blended.  It is ok to have a couple of chunks.  Let this sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 
-Pour this blend into the deep pan along with the bouillon and with medium heat simmer until the mixture appears somewhat creamy, I usually allow for at least 5 minutes.  Remember to stir regularly.
-Stir in the rice and simmer with medium heat for a good 3-5 minutes.  Stir continuously this will allow the rice to absorb the rich flavors. 
-When the rice has absorbed all of the liquid slowly stir in one cup of water at a time.  This will require uninterrupted stirring. When the rice has absorbed the liquid add more water.  Continue this until the rice is almost al dente.  At this point stir in the cream. 
-Continue stirring until rice is al dente, and add more water if you needed.  I usually end up stirring in about 8 cups of water when I use medium heat. 
-Serve in bowls, garnish with a couple of sliced strawberries and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar. 

     I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.  I like this with a fruity wine or an aromatic wine.  It has paired well with Frascati, Vermentino di Gallura, and Gewurztraminer from Alto-Adige.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's on My Plate?

I have been super busy this season with work.  I feel like I need to set up camp at the Vatican so I can get a few more zzzz's in every night.  I have, however, managed to make time for my favorite activity, cooking.  I can tell you what is not on my plate:  decomposing flesh and animal secretions.  What is on my plate:  veganized healthy meals, zucchini from my garden, and lots of summer fruit.

 Four different types of zucchini (from my garden). From the left: Battered fried zucchini, spelt stuffed zucchini(spelt made with sun dried tomatoes, green olives, zucchini, mint, basil, and olive oil), grilled zucchini marinated overnight with olive oil, garlic, calabrian red peppers, and raw apple cider vinegar, and Zucchine agrodolce-sweet and sour zucchini with mint, garlic and olive oil. I am loving the bounty from my garden. Thanks to the awesome 
ladies for coming up!!

 Fresh Strawberries with 25 yr old Balsamic vinegar from Modena.  I broke the bottle yesterday.  A true crime against food.

 Some Zucchini from our garden.  We can't eat them fast enough.

My latest masterpice based on a wonderful dish I used to eat at Nemi.  Risotto alle Fragole-Strawberry Risotto.  This is a great dish that is not a dessert.  It is a savory risotto with a twist.  

     Recipes will soon follow.  I am sorry that I haven't had a minute to catch up my recipe writing with my cooking.  Stay tuned, and enjoy summer!