Monday, April 30, 2012

Sono Italiana

I've had a bit of a secret for the past year, and thought I'd share it with you; for the past 11 months I've been working on seeing whether I qualified for Italian (dual) citizenship.  Some European countries allow you to apply for dual citizenship if you have a grandparent or parent who was born in the country, and you are able to present the right documentation.  And the US recognizes dual citizenship with many countries.

In January, with all my documentation in hand I arrived at the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles, a bit nervous, but determined.
My 10 minute interview concluded with the consulate saying I would hear in 8 months.  On Thursday, I received an e-mail confirming my citizenship, as well as our children's' citizenship. In reality, I thought this would take much longer, and wasn't even sure that it would be approved, but now that is has been approved, I'm very excited.  
This will give our children the right to live and work in the EU, without having to go through work permit and other red tape drills; and the right to Italian citizenship will go through to their children.

With the world now being flat, I considered it important to give our children this gift.  In researching my family, I found my grandparents birth and marriage certificates, my parents marriage license, and a host of other documents that I would not have found, had I not pursued this. What's in it for me?

An Italian Passport!  This means that when we enter Italy or the EU, we can stay for as long as we like, without having to prove that we will not be a burden on the Italian system. With Dr. C. planning retirement next year, we hope to go to Italy and live for a while, and this passport will help us move from country to country without having to apply for extensions to our 3 month tourist stay.

For anyone interested in exploring Italian citizenship, this website was helpful and they did a great job of getting the documents I needed, as well as translating the US documents.  True confession, I did look into Irish citizenship, but it wouldn't be transferred to our children and finding my grandmothers' actual name and birth record took almost as long as it did to get the Italian citizenship!

  Now if I can just learn how to toss a pizza, I'll be in business!!  Have a great week, I'll be back with some recipes later on, until then, Ciao!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Real Fishy Dinners

Still Cloudy in San Diego

This week has been a whirlwind of appointments and meetings, and so dinners have had to be quick, and satisfying.  Yesterday I had some imported porcini mushroom ravioli that I'd picked up at Mona Lisa, some shrimp from the freezer, and home made pesto that I'd made over the weekend.  Put them all together and we had a delicious dinner!  

Pesto Scampi
Serves 4

One 8-ounce package fresh pasta (linguine or fettucine work here, as well as ravioli) cooked al dente
1/3 cup fresh basil pesto
16 jumbo shrimp (you can certainly add a few more if you like)
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional) for garnish

In a skillet, heat the pesto over medium heat, and add the shrimp, turning the shrimp until they turn pink.  

Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the pasta to the skillet, and turn the pasta in the sauce, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. 

 Serve the pasta garnished with cheese if desired.

Cook's Note: Italians do not serve cheese over seafood pastas, but I think that the cheese gives the dish a bit of a lift.    

Beautiful sunsets

Tonight I had some gorgeous wild Alaskan halibut from Pt.Loma Seafoods.  I made my signature 10 minute fish, baked with crispy crumbs, in a garlic, oil and lemon sauce. This is a simple, delicious way to serve fish to your family, and it only takes 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  

Ten Minute Fish
Serves 4

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/3 pound thick fleshed fish (halibut, cod, salmon, sea bass)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
3 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, oil, garlic, Old Bay and lemon juice.   Pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the bottom of a baking dish, and reserve the rest.  
Lay the fish into the pan, and drizzle another tablespoon or two of the butter mixture over the fish.  In a bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and basil.  Press the mixture onto the fish and drizzle with the remaining garlic butter mixture.  Bake the fish for 10 to 12 minutes, until the center registers 165 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer.  Allow the fish to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into portions and serving with lemon wedges. 

Halibut is a great fish to try for a first timer; it tastes like chicken---no kidding!  The rule of thumb for cooking fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish.  The only exception to that rule is sea bass with a different protein structure---it will cook twice as long, and not dry out.  

   As we enter the weekend, I hope you enjoy every minute.  I'll see you back here next week, until then buona notte from San Diego.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Awful Food

I know that I generally write about great food; either that I'm cooking, or eating, but this week (and it's only Tuesday) there have been so many examples of bad food on the interwebs that I can't sit still, without sounding off about them.

The photo above is the Japanese whopper with 1050 slices of bacon.  Now I love bacon as much as the next person, but this is pretty much ridiculous, and at that many slices you wouldn't even be able to taste the crispiness, or the smokiness, you'd be overwhelmed.

Not to be outdone is Pizza Hut in the middle east, now offers pizza with it's chicken nugget and cheese burger crusts.  OK, am I just getting crotchety in my old age, or does anyone think this is a good idea???  Blech!

 Just this week someone had the brilliant idea to break the Guinness record for Nachos; almost 5000 pounds of nachos---in a trough---seems appropriate.

The Daily Meal did a post on the 15 weirdest foods at baseball parks.  This is the big boomer a 1 pound hot dog from the Texas Rangers park in Arlington, TX---they do things big in Texas.

As much as I love pulled pork, this is disgusting; the pulled pork parfait from Miller field in Milwaukee.  Pulled pork, mashed potatoes, and chives---I'm thankful they at least had a bit of something green in this!

I'll be back later in the week, with some good food to share, until then, eat local, organic, and fresh, PLEASE!!  

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Very Cheesy Weekend

Dr. C. and I are fortunate to have our friend Mary Karlin visit us from the Bay area every couple of months when she comes into town and teaches cheese making at Great News! Cooking School.
Saturday's class was hands on beginning cheese making where the students made Panir, mascarpone, chevre, and ricotta.  Since hands on classes make me queasy---I'm too much of a control freak to teach them, I dropped Mary off and then came back when the students were about finished, to take a few photos.

Chef Mary with curds and whey

students checking the temperature

wrapping it up
Amanda taking care of business!

Jessica and Nicole taking care of business

Milk for Sunday's class!

Sunday's class was hands on simple cured cheeses, including ricotta salata, feta and brin d'amour. I was going to help out if needed, fortunately, I  got to play photographer again, peeking over everyone's shoulders and being a general nuisance!

Even more milk!!

huddle before class begins

And, we're off......

Jessica carefully measuring the magic ingredients  
Team 2 under Nicole's watchful eye

Team 3 getting it done!

Separating the curds and whey for the brin d'amour

draining the curds

adding the magic!
Draining and salting the ricotta salata
Shaping and embellishing the brin d'amour

Pimenton, rosemary, juniper-berries, herbs de Provence, and fennel seed. 

So, what did I learn this weekend?  Mary K. is an amazing teacher, and a great cheese maker.  Cheese making invites community. Some of the students didn't know each other, but they all got to know each other through the hands on experience, and left happy, with cheeses to finish at home.  Lastly, I learned that I'll leave the hands on classes to pros like Mary, and I'll continue to teach demo classes!  I hope you enjoyed your weekend!