Thursday, April 28, 2016

Afternoon with Kelly Medford

Two weeks ago, Dr. C. took a leap of faith and went on a sketching tour with Kelly Medford, a local artist here in Rome.  I'd arranged it before we came to Rome, when my friend Rick Breco (he of the birthday boy post) suggested it.  I knew with my being in the kitchen at the Academy some days that he might enjoy a way to pass the time here in Rome.  It was a hit!  He really enjoyed it, and has used his little sketch pad, and kit that was provided to do some more since he took the class.  

We asked Kelly if she'd join us for lunch, so this morning we took the bus up to her studio, got a tour and I finally got to meet her.

She not only works in water color, but also in oils, these are some of her creations.  I'm in awe of anyone who can do this, because it's not my forte at all.  (although she says you don't need any experience to do it,I prefer to differ on that score)
I loved both these photos of mentor and pupil!  Kelly is so approachable and talented, we had a fabulous time looking at her work.  We're hoping she'll come to San Diego and sketch there.  We were trying to seduce her with photos of the desert, and the ocean.....just could happen!
Kelly did some of the artwork for this guide book to Naples including the maps which she sketched---highly recommend it if you are going to Naples, it's actually a work of art.

Kelly shares the space with other artists, this one does paper mache, everywhere I looked there was another one. 

The other artist is a transfer painter (not sure what the technical name is) she paints onto plastic, then transfers to paper or canvas.  Here she's working with fish, we watched her doing the first one. 
After all the art, it was time for pranzo, and we headed across the street to Trattoria Da Cesare.
Of course, the food, the company and the conversation were so much fun. 

Eggplant meatballs

Fried gnocchi with caccio pepe sauce (on the table in heaven)

Tornarelli with meat ragu

Dr. C. with his standard Spaghetti alla vongole

Kelly had to pasta with vignarola of artichoke, fava beans, and asparagus with guianciale (amazing)

Panna cotta for dessert
Thank you Kelly for a great afternoon, I hope we'll see you in San Diego or when we return to Rome. 
I spent my last night in the Academy kitchen yesterday, working on that post for tomorrow.  Dr. C. and I have 2 more days here in Rome, then head to Spello for 2 weeks.  Although I've loved this experience, when I'm in Italy, I really am the country mouse as opposed to the city mouse.  Somehow I've lost my city-cred, and prefer the quiet life in the country.  Ciao for now.

Stolen Lemon Olive Oil Cake

While staying at the Villa Aurelia, there have been several receptions held here during the month.  In the lead-up to these events, the lemon trees that are in front of the Villa are rolled around from the front of the villa to different places on the property.  

One tree was rolled up outside of our door a few nights ago, and I couldn't resist availing myself of a few of these beautiful fruits. Truth be told, they let the fruit drop from these trees, and no one picks them up, rather than let them go to waste, I took the sustainable approach, and picked a few before they fell off the trees.  Just hoping the local Carabinieri don't come and arrest us before we leave on Sunday!
So with a few lemons, and being in a sustainable mood, I needed to use up some ingredients before we leave on Sunday.  I thought trying a lemon olive oil cake would be a great idea, since I'd used up the butter on the nutella bars.  We decided that this one is a winner, although I think it needs a lemon glaze, but confectioner's sugar seems to be non-existent in our local supermercato.  You can certainly sub in orange, lime, or grapefruit for the lemons, but it's a simple way to use up the zest and juice. 

Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Makes one 9-inch round

2 large eggs
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and coat the inside of a 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, juice, zest, milk and sugar.  
Fold in the flour and baking powder, mixing till it is incorporated and smooth.  
Transfer to the prepared pan, bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely and serve.  This is great with a cup of coffee or tea.  

Since I am working without a net here, this was the closest I could come to a 9-inch baking dish with the dishes in the apartmento, but it worked.  If you would like, you could make a glaze using confectioners' sugar and lemon juice to pour over when it's cooled.  Ciao for now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Nutella Addiction

They say that the first step is admitting it, and I will say that I love Nutella, the milk chocolate and hazelnut spread sold in Europe and making its way into the US.  Don't let them fool you, the US version isn't as delicious as the Italian version.  A couple of weeks ago, Dr. C. and I had lunch at a restaurant near the Vatican and they gave us a little bar cookie that was basically a buttery crust, with Nutella sandwiched in the middle and crumbs on top.  So yesterday I decided to try and make them in our little kitchen. 
Here is the recipe, which couldn't be simpler, and it goes together really quickly if you have a food processor, but I used my fingers to make it. 

Nutella Crumble Bars
Makes one 9-inch square pan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chilled butter, cut into small bits
1 large egg
1 cup Nutella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and coat the inside of a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. 
In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Distribute the butter over the top of the dry ingredients, and pulse on and off until the butter looks like small peas.  
Remove to a bowl, and add the egg, the mixture will be crumbly.  Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs, and pat the remaining mixture into the pan, in an even layer.  Spread the Nutella over the crust, and top with the reserved crumbs.  
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown.  Allow to cool completely, and cut into squares.  These will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days, or frozen for 6 weeks.

Before baking


The lone leftover!
We had a friend over for dinner last night, she and Dr. C. gave them their seal of approval.  Hope you will try them, even if you can only get the US Nutella they are a winner.  Ciao for now.

In Which We Travel to Umbria to Celebrate a Birthday, and I Discover the World is Flat

On Friday, Dr. C. and I rented a car and headed to Umbria to stay in Spello and see our famiglia Angelini at Enoteca Properzio.  We were also invited to a birthday party in Umbertide, to celebrate with our friend Rick Breco from Noi Salon.  His friend Jenny Nichols owns Ca' Di Gosto located near Umbertide, and with directions in hand we headed north from Spello on Sunday.  The weather over the weekend in Umbria was rainy, windy, and cold.  In fact on Monday (liberation day in Italy) there was new snow on the mountains. 
Snow in the Appenines
 We arrived at 1 p.m. just behind the birthday boy.  As he popped out of his Smart Car he revealed that he had a cast on his foot.  He'd broken his foot, and had just gone to the hospital to have an X-Ray and they put a soft cast on it, till he could see the orthopedist after the holiday weekend.  But our boy was not swayed, he wrapped it up in plastic, fashioned a sole for the cast out of a wine box, and was walking around all day.  To say that Jenny's place is gorgeous is an understatement; take a look for your self. 
Last of the wisteria

they had hoped for a sunny day to have the party out here

This was the old pig barn, now a beautiful little retreat

olive trees

When we arrived, the crowd was just getting started on the Prosecco and wine.  It was a fun group, a mixture of Italiani, British ex-pats who live nearby, and the gang from Noi Salon (some of our favorite people)
People always gravitate to the kitchen area

Jenny (left) her daughter Daisy on the right

The gang from Noi Salon, L to R:  Rick, Massimo, and Mariella, Rick and Massi don't know it but Dr. C. and I are taking her home with us!

Birthday boy

Look at that leg!

Sad face---don't let this fool you, he had a great time

Dr. C. can always find someone to talk with

Rick and his friend from Norway---the guy gets around

opening presents

 Jenny has cooked all over the world, for a lot of famous people, and the food was exquisite, I'll let you sample with your eyes, we got to eat till we couldn't move and they had to roll us to our car

beautiful dining room
The birthday kids
and yes, there was birthday cake, and pavlova, and zabaglione, and more cake and brownies

So how did I discover that the world was flat?  I've been here at the American Academy in Rome studying their Sustainable Food Project for the past 3 weeks, and Jenny was the person who helped Alice Waters to design the composting project here back when they first started.  How cool is that? 
Thanks Rick and Jenny for such a beautiful day, and for introducing us to some new friends.  What do I love about Italy aside from our friends and famiglia Angelini?  This kind of a day, where you meet new people from all walks of life, eating and drinking and enjoying life.  Happy birthday Rick and Jenny, wishing you both a year filled with joy, laughter, love and adventures.  Ciao for now.