Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Birthday Celebration

Grace, Stephen, Susan with Mom & Dad
Tina & Dominick with Grandpop & Grandmom

Born In 1926, on a cold winter day, 2 months premature, my Dad is a survivor.

He was born in the little town of Giulianova in Abruzzi, on the farm his family leased from the Catholic Church.
His grandfather, Sabatino, fearful that this tiny little baby, his first born grandson, would not survive the cold harsh winter, ran to the Church situated below the farmhouse and dragged the priest from the vestibule as he was preparing to say mass, so he could come and baptize his grandson.
The priest, knowing and loving the family that plowed the land up on the hill, readily complied, shedding his garments and rushing to the farmhouse high on the hill.

My father was baptized in the kitchen of that house. It was the warmest room of the house. A big fire burned in the fireplace that was used to cook the food as well as heat the house.

As he grew up, Sabatino would take that little boy, Armando everywhere he went. He became his shadow. Grandfather & grandson became inseparable.

My father learned so much from his grandfather. He learned the lay of the land. He learned to respect the land and the people who worked it . He learned about good honest food. His grandfather was somewhat of a gourmand in those times, visiting the local little trattorias or family owned restaurants that flourished in the hills of Abruzzi, my father by his side.

My father became well known for his adventurous spirit as well as his creativity. He was bold & kind. He was around to help those who needed assistance with the harvest of grapes for wine or olives for pressing oil. He was a inventor. He was a mavrick. Ahead of his time, and well liked by everyone.
To this day, we have cousins and family who visit my Dad here in the US just to see Armando again. They tell us of his story, of his childhood, of his kindness , of his brilliance for new ideas.
He has remained close to everyone.

This man who came to the United States by way of France. Working in the foundries for 3 years to earn passage here. To start anew in a country who promised all to those who worked hard and had a dream.

My Dad is 84 . It was his birthday on January 28. We celebrated this man . His family gathered round. A role model for me, for everyone.
Family & friends called from Italy to wish him well. He is still remembered as a man with an adventurous spirit. A man who had a dream and followed it. A man who has the wisdom and kindness that we can all learn from.
A man ahead of his time.

Happy Birthday Pop !!! We love you !

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Days

Coming back from a private cooking class last night, the wind was howling. It was bitter cold. I realized that I wanted to crawl into my warm bed and stay under the covers until the chill I felt in my bones went away.

It is winter. The end of January. Cold, bitter and bare.
The trees outside my window are stark against the sky. Not a leaf in sight!
Even in my house with the heat on, I am cold. I look for warmth everywhere.

Where do I find myself keeping warm?
Well~ in front of my stove, cooking!
With the burners on simmer and the pots bubbling & boiling , warmth is there. I am finally happy.
Cooking makes me happy.
Cooking makes me warm. Cooking is a satisfying & rewarding experience for me each & every time.

Stew, soups, oven- roasted meats, pasta sauces, comforting desserts. I have my little hands in everything, whipping and whisking away.
I call my family for dinner. I send quarts of soup to my friends. I pack my fridge with a variety of foods. I am content in front of my stove.

It is a well worn stove, twenty four years old and wearing the memories of each meal, my stove gives me comfort. My stove keeps me warm. My stove is a haven for me.

I find myself in my kitchen even if I do not have a catering job or a cooking class.
It is where I am happy, busy creating, busy cooking , busy stirring with the wonderful aromas all around me. I know I can make something taste good. Feed someone who will appreciate my food.
This is what keeps me warm during these cold winter months.

Here are some recipes to keep you warm and well fed.


2 tbs melted butter
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 chopped onion
1 cup sliced sun dried tomato
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (or more)
1/2 cup grated locatelli cheese
1/2 cup pasta water
1 lb cooked pasta
~in saute pan cook garlic & onion in butter & oil until translucent, add sun dried tomato & mushrooms , cook until golden brown, add wine. Let wine evaporate for a few minutes and then add chicken broth & pasta water. Bring to a simmer and then toss with pasta & cheese.


1 lb asparagus cut in small diagonal pieces & cooked in water until tender
1 lb shrimp split in 1/2
2 tbs melted butter & 3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp old bay
dash hot sauce
1 quart marinara sauce
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pasta water
1/2 cup grated locatelli romano cheese
1 lb cooked pasta
~in oil & butter cook garlic, add old bay & hot sauce, cook shrimp in this mixture until done , add asparagus, marinara, pasta water & cream.
toss with cooked pasta , top with cheese.

1 cup chopped carrot~~~~~~~~~~~ 2 lb butternut squash,peeled, cubed
1 cup chopped celery ~~~~~~~~~~~~~& tossed with 3 tbs olive oil,roast
1 cup chopped onion ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ uncovered @ 350 for 45 minutes
3 tbs melted butter
2 tbs olive oil~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2~46 oz can chicken broth
salt & pepper

~saute carrot, celery, onion in butter & oil until soft , can add chicken broth to speed the cooking process.
Combine with roasted squash and puree in batches in a food processor until thick , add broth as you go.
Heat in soup pan for 20 minutes


3 tbs melted butter & 2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 lb boneless chicken breast cut into small strips
Salt & pepper
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup pasta water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated locatelli romano cheese
1 lb cooked pasta

~in butter & oil, saute chicken strips until brown & cooked , add garlic and cook until fragrant
~put spinach in big bowl and toss with drained , hot pasta. Mix until spinach wilts. add cooked chicken, pasta water, cream & cheese.


3 tbs melted butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 small onion chopped
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 1/2 lb ground mix ( beef, pork, veal)
1/2 cup red or white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 quart marinara sauce
1/2 cup pasta water
1 lb cooked pasta
~in oil & butter saute garlic, onion, carrot until caramelized add meat and brown well~ add wine & broth and cook until it evaporates. Add marinara sauce and pasta water , toss with cooked pasta.( hot pepper flakes optional)