Sunday, September 30, 2012

Una Buona Notte

Midnight in Spello brings a beautiful day in Umbria to an end.  This is an American tour group who had a wine tasting here at Enoteca Properzio.  They even sang me "Happy Birthday" while I took their photos!

A full moon provided light in this tiny town perched on a hill below St. Francis' sacred Mount Subasio. 
Santa Maria Maggiore houses frescoes by Pinturicchio and Perugino. 
Enoteca Properzio

Local Obituaries

As we headed back to our apartment last night, I couldn't help but think, how much I love the pace here; my inner clock has slowed down --hardly look at my watch, have lost track of which day it is, and I am happy just to "be", rather than to "do".  A domani, buona notte.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Like What We've Done to the Place?

A week ago, Dr. C, our son Ryan and I were getting ready to go up to bed, when we noticed some water on the floor in the family room.  Not knowing where it came from, we looked up and this is what we saw..........

Grabbed a bucket and poked a hole in the ceiling, then grabbed towels, and tried to salvage the books in the bookcases as best we could---and turned off the water to the house.
The next day, the "water mitigation team" that's insurance speak for the guys with the huge fans and dehumidifiers that sound like B-52's taking off came out to take out the ceiling and installed 3 dehumidifiers and 5 fans. 

Oh, and the plumber found a pin-hole leak in a pipe between two walls in the master bathroom---3 foot section of dry wall gone there, but at least he didn't have to tear out the tile.

This is the other side of the wall, which just happened to be wetter than the family room---not a lot of cooking, or anything going on around Chez Phillips until we get this taken care of---it's a mess, BUT the good news (and I am definitely a glass half full person) this happened when we were home, and it could have been so much worse, we are so blessed that it is contained in these areas, an easily fixed.
The blowers all left today and I can finally hear myself think---the heat from the dehumidifiers made the house about 90 degrees most of the time, and there was nowhere to escape, BUT it could have been so much worse.

Dr. C. and I are off to Italy on Thursday and we are counting our blessings it didn't happen after we had left.  I'll be blogging and posting on my FB page while we are gone, so feel free to stop by and find out what wonderful things we are eating and drinking.  Ciao!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's in the Bag!

Wednesday night's Specialty Produce Farmer's Market Bag Class at Great News had a bag that was full of wonderful, good for you produce, including, lower left to right:  Yum Yum peppers, black kale, shallot, heirloom tomatoes, spaghetti squash, spinach, wild arugula, Bartlett pears, fennel.
Our class had a wonderful tomato and goat cheese tart, spaghetti squash with black kale and cod with peppers and fennel.
Spaghetti squash is one of those vegetables that you might not pick up at the store, because you aren't sure how to use it, but it's a terrific sub for pasta, is filled with fiber, vitamins A, C and B as well as being a great source of beta carotene. One way to make spaghetti squash is as a mac and cheese and I promised the students I would publish this.  With the temperatures hovering in the 100's here, I haven't felt like doing much of anything, but for those that were in the class, or got the bag this week here are a few recipes to make with the contents of the bag. (not a lot of photos since I haven't had the energy to cook!)  Buon Appetito!

Slow Cooker Portuguese Sausage and Kale Soup
Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound smoked Linguica, chorizo, or andouille sausage, cut into ½-inch rounds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 pound black kale, chopped into 1-inch pieces
5 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, peeled if desired, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional for garnish)

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil, and sauté the sausage, onion, and carrots, until the onion is translucent, and transfer the mixture to the insert of a 5 to 7-quart slow cooker. 
  2. Add the kale, potatoes, chicken broth, and bay leaf stirring to combine the ingredients. 
  3. Cook the soup for 5 to 6 hours on low until the potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaf, sprinkle the soup with the cilantro and serve.  

Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese

Serves 6
For the Squash

One spaghetti squash 
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Split the squash in half, remove the seeds place on a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  
  2. Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, until tender.  
  3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Scoop out the flesh of the squash and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Cover with aluminum foil, and make the sauce. 
For the Sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
 1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1  cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk---NO 1/2 & 1/2 it will separate at high temps)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese(s) (this is up to you--traditional medium orange cheddar, sharp white cheddar, a mix of Asiago and Parmigiano, Gruyere and Parmigiano ---- pepper jack ---- smoked Gouda)
few drops Tabasco

  1. Preheat the 350 degrees and coat the inside of a 9-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  
  2. In a small saucier or saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat, add the garlic and swirl in the pan, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  
  3. Add the flour, and whisk for 2 minutes.  
  4. Slowly add the broth, whisking until the mixture comes to a boil, and is thickened.  
  5. Add the cream, remove from the heat, and add the cheese, whisking until the cheeses melt.  season with salt, and add a few drops of Tabasco.  
  6. Stir the sauce into the spaghetti squash, transfer to the prepared baking dish (at this point the dish can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours---there may be a bit of water from the squash in the bottom of the pan, drain that out before baking)  and top with the crumb topping (see following recipes) 

For the Crumb Topping

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs 
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil

  1. In a small bowl, toss together the ingredients, until they are moistened by the oil. 
  2. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese, and bake for 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, and the topping is crispy and golden.
  3. Any additional topping can be frozen in a zipper top plastic bag, and used over casseroles, or vegetables.  
 This recipe lends itself well to additions, such as bacon (we all know that everything tastes better with bacon) leftover veggies (hello, kale!), caramelized onions, leftover rotisserie chicken and your choices of cheeses.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Z is for Zucchini

    If you have a yard overflowing with zucchini, this recipe is simple, and the cake that it makes is delicious.  Make it and serve it or make it and freeze it for another day. 

    Chocolate Zucchini Cake
    Makes 1 9-inch Bundt

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 3/4 cup sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla paste
    1/2 cup sour cream
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoon espresso powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cups grated zucchini (about 4 medium)
    1/2 cup chocolate chips

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat the inside of a 9-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
    In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, oil and sugar, until the mixture is blended---it may look curdled. 
    Add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream, and stir until combined.  Add the remaining ingredients, and beat on low speed until blended.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan; bake for 45 to 55 minutes,

    until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
    Remove the pan from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack and time for 10 minutes.  
    At the end of the 10 minutes, remove the cake from the pan, and allow to cool completely.    Serve the cake garnished with sifted powdered sugar. 

    Moment of truth:  I didn't have my normal non-stick cooking spray Baker's Joy on hand, and used another product in the pantry, and the result was a bit of the cake was still caught on the pan.  Still tastes delicious!