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Lentils for Luck – Italian Recipe for a Prosperous New Year

Prefer to read this post in English? Skip to the text in  green.

gold coins     Secondo l’usanza italiana, se ti vuoi assicurare di un nuovo anno fortunato, a Capodanno  devi mangiare le lenticchie. Piatte e tonde, assomigliano le monete, e per il fatto che aumentano in misura durante la cottura, simboleggiano soldi e crescita finanziaria. Di solito in Italia le lenticchie si preparano in forma di una gustosa zuppa che viene mangiata nel periodo di Capodanno.

     According to Italian custom, if you want to ensure good luck in the new year, you must eat lentils on New Year’s Eve/Day.  Flat and round, they resemble coins, and due to the fact that they expand in size during cooking, they symbolize money and financial growth.  In Italy, lentils are usually prepared in the form of a tasty stew or soup eaten during the New Year period.

[Let me hear from you if you enjoy learning about Italian cooking, and I’ll share more recipes! Leave a comment!]


Ecco la mia ricetta – È deliziosa e abbastanza facile.

Here’s my recipe – It’s delicious and pretty easy.

[Printer-friendly version of recipe]

Zuppa di lenticchie | Lentil Stew

Persone: 4  |  Preparazione: 30 minuti  |  Cottura: circa 2 ore   |  Difficoltà: media

Serves: 4  |  Preparation: 30 minutes  |  Cooking time: about 2 hours  |  Difficulty: medium

Ingredienti | Ingredients  [Italian | English]lenticchie-2

  1. 300 gr lenticchie verdi secche | 10-11 oz dry green lentils
  2. 1-2 cucchiai olio d’oliva | 1-2 tblsp olive oil
  3. 1-2 cucchiai di burro | 1-2 tbsp butter
  4. peperoncino q.b. /quanto basta | red chili pepper, to taste
  5. 1 cipolla tritata | 1 chopped onion
  6. 1 costola di sedano tritata | 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  7. 2 gambi di porro tritati | 2 bulbs/stems chopped leeks
  8. 1 carota tritata | 1 chopped carrot
  9. 1 bicchiere di vino bianco secco | 1 c./8oz. dry white wine
  10. 1 pomodoro piccolo tritato | 1 small chopped tomato
  11. 1 foglia di alloro | 1 bay  leaf
  12. 8-10 bicchieri (2-2 ½ litri) d’acqua | 8-10 c. (2-2 ½ qt.) water
  13. Dadi di brodo vegetale q.b./quanto basta (circa un dado per litro d’acqua) | Broth cubes, as needed (approx. 1 cube per quart of water)
  14. Sale e pepe, q.b. | Salt and pepper, to taste
  15. Qualche rametto di timo fresco A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  16. Facoltativo: 300 gr cotechino o altra salsiccia | Optional:  10-11 oz. “cotechino”, a traditional Italian pork sausage, or other sausage

Preparazione | Directions

  1. Sciacquate le lenticchie e mettetele in ammolo in acqua fredda per circa 2-3 ore.
    1. Rinse and soak lentils in cold water for approx. 2-3 hours.
  2. Riscaldate l’acqua con i dadi di brodo e tenetela coperta a fuoco lento finche occorre.
    1. Heat the water with broth cubes and keep covered at a simmer until needed.
  3. Trascorso il tempo di ammollo, potete iniziare a preparare la zuppa di lenticchie.  In una pentola grande rosolate  cipolla, porro, sedano e carote tritati nel burro e l’olio d’oliva.italian food italian cooking
    1. Upon completion of soaking time, in a large pan sauté the chopped onion, leeks, carrot and celery in the butter and olive oil, until onion is transparent.
  4. Aggiungete le lenticchie, ben scolate dall’acqua di ammollo,e la foglia di alloro, girandole 1-2 minuti mentre assorbono il burro, l’olio ed i gusti della verdura.
    1. Add lentils, having drained the soaking water, and the bay leaf, stirring 1-2 minutes as they absorb the butter, oil and flavors of the vegetables.
  5. Aggiungete e fate sfumare il vino bianco, girando il tutto a fuoco basso.
    1. Add white wine and stir the mix while sautéing so wine absorbs into lentils as it evaporates.
  6. Aggiungete il pomodoro e girate a fuoco lento.
    1. Add tomato and stir while sautéing.
  7. Aggiungete sale e pepe quanto basta.
    1. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Aggiungete circa la meta` del brodo e coprire la pentola. Controllate, girate ed assaggiate di tanto in tanto, aggiundendo del brodo in piu` quando occorre ed evitando che le lenticchie si attaccano. Attenzione che le lenticchie ultimate siano al dente e non stracotte.
    1. Add about half the broth and cover the pan. Check, stir and taste every so often, adding more broth as needed to avoid lentils cooking to the bottom of pan.  Take care that the finished lentils are “al dente” and not overcooked (when ready, lentils should be soft but not mushy).
  9. Aggiungete del sale quanto basta.
    1. Add salt as needed/to taste.
  10. In una padella a parte, fate rosolare le salsicce. Abbiate cura a non stracuocerle. Alla fine della cottura la pelle sara` diventata biancastra. Dovrebbero essere tenere e non dure.
    1. In a separate pan, steam the sausage(s). Be careful not to overcook. When finished, the casings will have turned white. They should be tender, not tough.
  11. Quando le salsicce saranno ultimate, toglietele dalla fiamma e togliere la pelle.
    1. When sausages are cooked, remove from heat and remove casings.
  12. capodanno-buon anno 2014

    Buon Anno | Happy New Year!

    Quando la zuppa di lenticchie sara` ultimate, toglietela dalla fiamma, togliete la foglia di alloro, aggiungete del timo fresco e mescolate.  Affettate le salsicce, mettete le fette in cima alle porzioni di zuppa ed aggiungete un rametto di timo fresco. Buon appetito e prospero anno !

    1. When lentils have finished cooking, remove from heat, remove bay leaf, add the leaves of several fresh sprigs of thyme and mix.  Slice the sausages, put slices over the top of the portions of lentil stew, add a sprig of thyme and serve.  Good eating and Prosperous New Year!

Un sacco di lenticchie

P.S. Don’t have the time or desire to cook? No problem! Another tradition to ensure good luck in the new year is simply to cross the threshold of your home at the stroke of midnight and enter your household carrying a sack of lentils!

Have you ever eaten lentil soup?  What special foods do you eat at New Year’s?

Let me hear from you if you enjoy learning about Italian cooking, and I’ll share more recipes! Leave a comment!

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Auguri alle donne! | International Women’s Day

festa donna 8 marzoMarch 8th is International Women’s Day. This day is observed widely in many countries around the world. Oddly though, it is not observed in the United States. In fact, the first time I’d heard of it was shortly after I’d moved to Italy.

In italia la Festa della Donna si festeggia l’8 di marzo. | In Italy, Women’s day is celebrated on March 8th.

festa donna mazze mimose

Mazze di mimose | Bouquets of mimosa flowers

Gli uomini regalano i fiori, solitamente le mimose, alle colleghe di lavoro e a tutte le altre donne importanti nelle loro vite… mamme, sorelle, fidanzate, ragazze, ecc. | Men give flowers, usually mimosas, to their female colleagues and to all the other important women in their lives… moms, sisters, fiances, girlfriends, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, the mimosa is not just a popular cocktail made from succo d’arancia (orange juice) and champagne, though I suspect this drink was inspired by the true mimosa.

mimosa.drink

La mimosa piu` famosa — the most famous mimosa: Mimosa Cocktails

The mimosa is the fragrant and fluffy yellow pom-pom-like flower of the acacia tree.  California is full of these trees this time of year, as is Italy, which is why this flower is so common on this day.  I love the smell of these flowers — their fragrance zooms me straight back to wonderful memories.

Below are a few Women’s Day auguri (greetings) to share with someone special:

  1. Questa mimosa è bella come te che splendi e profumi nel giorno della tua festa.” | This mimosa is as beautiful as you that shine and are fragrant on your special day.
  2. Auguri a tutte le donne del mondo ed in particolare alla mia che è la più bella che ci sia!” | Good wishes to all the women of the world and in particular to mine who is the most beautiful there is!
  3. La donna è la colonna portante del mondo, senza te tutto crollerebbe e la nostra famiglia andrebbe in rovina… Grazie donna, grazie mamma.” | The woman is the main supporting column of the world, without you everything would collapse and our family would go into ruin… Thank you woman, thank you mom.

women dressed in yellowWomen’s Day is a celebration of all that is wonderful about women, and it is a day to pause and reflect on the accomplishments and importance of the role of women in our world. It’s also a moment to consider improvements and changes needed to better the quality of women ‘s lives in general, and especially of women and girls whose rights and life conditions are extremely compromised or perilous.

Remember to give an extra hug or shout out to the women who matter in your life today. And remember also the women whose lives are not what they could be. We’ve come a long way baby, ma c’è ne ancora di strada da fare! (there’s still a ways to go!)

Have you heard of Women’s Day before?  Do you celebrate it?  Which mimosa do you prefer, the flower or the cocktail?  😉  Love your comments!

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Buoni propositi per l’anno nuovo | New Year’s Resolutions

[Note: Any text in Italian is followed by the English translation.]

È giunto quel momento: un nuovo anno luccicante è iniziato! Un anno pieno di possibilità e buoni propositi, cioè tutti quegli atti e nobili intenzioni che vorremmo riuscire a mettere in pratica nei prossimi dodici mesi.

That moment has arrived: a shiny new year has begun! A year full of possibilities and resolutions, that is to say, all those actions and noble intentions  that we’d like to be able to put into practice in the next twelve months.

Ecco i miei, o perlomeno tre dei miei più importanti obiettivi:

Here are mine, or at least three of my most important goals:

– Rimettermi in forma… visto che l’anno scorso ho messo su peso e non mi vanno più i ginnasticajeans… uffa! Mi sono già iscritta ad un intenso programma di ginnastica.

– Get back in shape… seeing that last year I put on weight and can no longer get into my jeans… darn it! I have already signed up for an intensive exercise program.

– Imparare a gestire e investire intelligentemente i soldi… visto che ormai sono diventata responsabile con le finanze, è giunto il momento di procedere al prossimo traguardoinvestire soldi… Sono brava con le parole, ora voglio migliorare le capacità finanziarie.

– Learn to intelligently manage and invest money… seeing that by now I have become responsible with my finances, the moment has arrived to move to the next milestone… I’m good with words; now I want to improve my financial skills.

– Imparare a cantare e a usare bene la voce. È sempre stato il mio sogno poter cantar bene, o almeno decentemente (possibilmente evitando che i cani abbaino mentre intono una canzone). In più, visto che parlo per mestiere, apprendere l’uso corretto Jodina singing at Cicciotti's-editeddell’apparato vocale-respiratorio penso sia un buon investimento nella mia vita professionale.

– Learn to sing and use my voice well. It has always been my dream to be able to sing well, or at least decently (possibly avoiding that dogs howl when I sing a song). Moreover, seeing that I speak for a living, I believe that learning to correctly use my vocal-respiratory apparatus is a good investment in my professional life.

Questi sono i miei propositi per il 2015. Le aspirazioni e i sogni che punto a realizzare. Dichiararli agli altri è sempre difficile, ma fondamentale. Per questo vi chiedo di condividere anche i vostri. Che cosa farete nel nuovo anno? Come investirete il vostro tempo? Per quali obiettivi lotterete?

These are my resolutions for 2015. Aspirations and dreams that I aim to realize. Declaring them to others is always difficult but essential. For this reason, I’m asking you to share yours, too. What will you do in the new year? How will you invest your time? What goals will you strive for?

Auguro a tutti un anno  felice e pieno di creatività!

I wish everyone a happy new year full of creativity!

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Holidays, learn italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

My blog is now registered with Bloglovin’!

Che emonzione! / Yay!

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Gironzolando per Montepulciano | Strolling through Moltepulciano | Foto Blog

Comune di Montepulciano2

Montepulciano. Voi siete qui…! |               You are here…!

[NOTE:  This post is written in Italian, interspersed with the English translation.]

Un gioiello di città di montagna: Montepulciano.  Si trova nel cuore della regione del Vino Nobile a sudest di Firenze.  È il paese di montagna più grande della Toscana del sud ed è racchiuso tra antiche mura costruite nel 1511. Montepulciano, che ha origini dal popolo degli Etruschi, vanta delle bellissime viste e viuzze tra chiese e strutture rinascimentali. È proprio un bel posto per andare a zonzo.

A jewel of a hill town: Montelpulciano. It’s in the heart of the Vino Nobile wine region southwest of Florence.  It is the biggest hill town in southern Tuscany and is enclosed by ancient walls built in 1511. Montepulciano, which dates back to the Etruscans, boasts beautiful views and narrow streets among churches and renaissance-era buildings. It’s really a beautiful place to wander…

i cipressi

I cipressi | Cypresses

I cipressi:  Paesaggio visto dalla Porta al Prato, uno dei principali accessi alla città. (Prima dell’uso delle carte stradali, i cipressi si piantarano lungo i cammini per segnalarli ai viaggiatori.)

Cypresses:  Panorama seen from near Porta al Prato, one of the main city gates. (Before the use of maps, cypresses were planted along roadsides as a way to indicate them to travelers)

bellringer atop clock tower

La Torre delll’orologio in Piazza Grande, nel punto più alto della città, con in cima Pulcinella che batte le ore sulla campana.  |  Clock tower in the main square, at the highest point of the city, with Punch on top hammering out the hours on the bell.

raggi di sole sulla panca in chiesa2

I raggi di sole su una panca nella Chiesa di Sant’Agostino in Piazza Grande | Sunbeams on a bench in Sant’Agostino Cathedral in the main square

candela per nonna

Ho acceso una candela per la mia nonnetta. | I lit a candle for my granny.

sdraiata su un muro

Il panorama vista dal muro antico su cui stavo riposando. Che cielo! | The view as I was resting on the ancient wall. What a sky!

via della fortuna

La via della Fortuna | Lucky Street (The Street of Fortune)

n. 10 via della foruna

n. 10 via della Fortuna | #10 Lucky Street

vicolo2

Un vicolo in salita | An alley in ascent

signore che passeggia2

Un signore che passeggia | A man out for a stroll

IMG_3160

Il Palazzo Cantucci con le sottostanti Cantine Cantucci, un tesoro “nascosto”   |  The Cantucci Building with its underlying Cantucci Wine Cellars, a “hidden” treasure

Wine cellar

Barili di vino nelle cantine sotteranee | Wine barrels in the underground cellars

teatro dei burattini

Il Meraviglioso Teatro dei burattini |  The Marvelous Puppet Theater

pinocchio

Alla fine della passeggiata ho incontrato un vecchio amico e il mio burattino preferito! |  At the end of my walk I met an old friend and my favorite puppet — Pinocchio!

[Grazie sentite al mio assistente redazione Enzo Heinz D’Albis]

Have you been to Montepulciano?  Which picture is your favorite? 

Leave a comment below!

Posted in italian travel, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Photo Foto Blog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Love, Italian Style | Amore all’italiana

saying i love you in italian“Ti amo” or “Ti voglio bene”?

That is the question for italophiles on this day of San Valentino.  The answer, it turns out, depends on the object of your affection.

“Ti amo” (I love you) is reserved for romantic loves, while “Ti voglio bene” (I want/wish you well) is used to say I love you to everyone: family, friends, and lovers. Per non fare brutta figura (to not make a faux pas) watch the video!

After the video, check out the round-up of Italian love phrases to help you sweep your adorato off their feet! Plus a link to send free online Italian Valentine’s Day cards.

Video:  Saying “I love you” in Italian

More instructional videos >>

Be your own Don Giovanni with these romantic phrases!

  1. Buon San Valentino (Happy Valentine’s Day)
  2. Ti amo. (I love you. Used only for romantic love.)
  3. Ti adoro. (I adore you.)
  4. Amore mio (My love, my beloved)
  5. Tesoro mio (My treasure)
  6. Ti voglio bene. (I love/care about you. Used for all types of relationships: family, friends, lovers.)
  7. I tuoi occhi brillano come le stelle. (Your eyes shine like stars.)
  8. Sei bella come una rosa. (You are as beautiful as a rose.)
  9. Per sempre (Forever)
  10. Per sempre tua/o (Forever yours)
  11. Sono pazza/o di te. (I’m crazy for you.)
  12. Anima mia (My soul)
  13. Sei incredibile. (You’re incredible.)
  14. Sei bellissima/o. (You’re beautiful.)
  15. Sei un dono. (You are a gift.)
  16. Sei stupenda/o. (You’re fantastic.)

Send a free online Italian Valentine’s card to someone special at www.kisseo.it.

heart in cappuccino coffeeA tutti i miei lettori un buon San Valentino! Siete fantastici! (To all of my readers, a happy Valentine’s Day! You’re fantastic!)

Got a favorite Italian  love phrase or anecdote? Leave your comment below!

Posted in Expressions, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Love Affair with Nutella

giant jar of nutella in florence italy

Gigante barattolo di Nutella a Firenze

Sarà vero che il burro di arachidi rappresenta per i bimbi americani ciò che la Nutella è per i ragazzi italiani — una crema gustosa (per i panini e le merende) al cui sapore ci si abitua sin dalla prima infanzia… Non credo che il burro di arachidi ispiri la stessa passione ed emozione della Nutella.

While it might be true that peanut butter is to American kids what Nutella is to Italian children — a tasty spread (for sandwiches and snacks) that you begin acquiring a taste for in early childhood… I don’t think peanut butter inspires the kind of passion and emotion that Nutella does.

Per prima cosa, il burro di arachidi non viene citato così frequentamente come la sua lontana cugina italiana Nutella. Quando faccio una ricerca in internet sul “burro di arachidi” trovo solamente la storia della chiusura di uno stabilimento per la sua produzione a causa di un avvelenamento da salmonella… triste ma poco divertente.

For starters, peanut butter doesn’t make the news the way its distant Italian cousin Nutella does… when I google “peanut butter”, all I find is the story of a peanut butter processing plant being shut down due to salmonella poisoning… sad, but not very entertaining.

FAREWELL to ATTILA the NUTELLA-LOVING REINDEER

Una ricerca sulla Nutella invece frutta delle storie che comprendono la morte, a Belluna, di una renna che amava la Nutella, un politico indagato per delle spese sospette — la piu` clamorosa delle quali: un barattolo di Nutella per 2 euro 70 centesimi. Poi c’è una mamma californiana che ha fatto causa alla Ferrero che produce la Nutella per pubblicità falsa ed ha vinto (era scioccata di scoprire che nonostante le affermazioni negli spot in tv, la crema non è la base di una colazione sana).

A search for Nutella, on the other hand, yields stories that include the passing of a Nutella-loving reindeer in Belluno, a politician under investigation for suspicious expense claims — the most clamorous of which is a €2.70 jar of Nutella. Then there’s the mom from California who sued the Ferrero company, maker of Nutella, for false advertising and won (she  was shocked to discover that despite claims made in the TV ads, the spread is not a healthy breakfast staple).

World_Nutella_Day_Final_mPoi naturalmente non esiste la Giornata del Burro di Arachidi. Il 5 febbraio 2013 invece segna la settima annuale Giornata Mondiale della Nutella, un giorno dedicato all’adorazione di…, al cucinare con…, e al gustare questa dolce delizia. Ricorrenza ideata da due americane espatriate in Italia (Sara Rosso e Michelle Fabio), le due donne hanno la parola e negli anni hanno raccolto oltre 700 ricette con la Nutella. Queste si possono vedere sul loro sito www.NutellaDay.com, ed ora hanno persino scritto un libro, “The Unofficial Guide to Nutella” (La Guida Inofficiale alla Nutella).

And of course, there is no World Peanut Butter Day. February 5th, 2013 marks the 7th annual World Nutella Day, a day dedicated to the adoration of, baking with, and eating of this sweet treat. Created by two American expats in Italy (Sara Rosso and Michelle Fabio), the two women have spread the word and over the years have amassed a collection of over 700 recipes involving Nutella.  You can peruse these on their website www.NutellaDay.com, and now, they’ve even written a book, “The Unofficial Guide to Nutella”.

Nutella-filled Red Velvet Cake Pops

Nutella-filled Red Velvet Cake Pops

Per la Giornata della Nutella del 2012, un’amica ed io abbiamo tentato di creare una ricetta originale: Nutella-filled Red Velvet Cake Pops (ovvero, le palline di torta al velluto rosso riempite di Nutella). I risultati erano da morire dal ridere (e deliziosi) e di sicuro meritevoli di Lucy ed Ethel (del vecchio programma televisivo “I Love Lucy”).

For Nutella Day 2012, a friend and I tried our hand at creating an original recipe: Nutella-filled Red Velvet Cake Pops. The result was a hilarious (and delicious) baking adventure worthy of Lucy and Ethel.

Dunque oggi, o qualsiasi giorno, anche voi potete aggregarvi al divertimento — vi serve solo un cucchiaio, un barattolo di Nutella, e magari anche un pò di pane o qualche crepe per spalmarla.

Nutella Ad_BreadSo today, or any day, you too can get in on the fun–all you need is a spoon, a jar of Nutella, and maybe even some bread or a crepe to put it on.

Your comments:

Have you heard of World Nutella Day? Are you celebrating it this year? What’s your favorite way to eat Nutella?

[Grazie sentite al mio assistente redazione Enzo Heinz D’Albis!]

Posted in Italian Customs, Italian Food, Italian Holidays, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Risotto al melograno | Recipe Blog | Pomegranate Risotto

pomegranate, melograno

NOTE: This post is written in Italian, interspersed with the English translation (in Italics).

Buone feste a tutti e spero che avete passato un bel Natale. Se fossimo in Italia saremmo ancora in festa. Il 26 dicembre, giorno di Santo Stefano, il primo martire cristiano, è festa nazionale in molte parti del mondo, l’Italia compresa. Dopo arriva Capodanno e poi la stagione Natalizia termina con l’Epifania, detto anche la Befana, il 6 gennaio.

Happy holidays everyone; I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  If we were in Italy, we’d still be on holiday. The 26th of December, St. Stephen’s Day (the first Christian martyr), is a national holiday in many parts of the world, including Italy. After comes New Year’s Eve, and then the Christmas season finishes with the Epiphany, also called la Befana, on January 6th.

Perciò potete usare la vostra affinità per la cultura italiana come scusa per rimanere nello spirito festoso un altro pò. In onore di Santo Stefano allora vi propongo un bel piatto che ho preparato per degli ospiti in questi giorni: il buonossimo Risotto al melograno!

So, you can use your affinity for Italian culture as an excuse to stay in the festive spirit a little longer.  In honor of St. Stephen then, I present you with a wonderful dish that I made for my guests recently: the delicious Pomegranate Risotto!

pomegranate risotto, risotto al melograno

Questo risotto è bello quanto è buono. Il succo del melograno gli dona un bel colore rosato insieme ai chicchi fiammeggianti e croccanti. È un primo piatto perfetto per qualche pranzo o cena natalizio o per il Capodanno!

This risotto is as pretty as it is good.  The juice of the pomegranate gives it a nice pinkish color together with the brightly-colored and crunchy seeds.  It’s a perfect first course for any Christmas lunch or dinner, or for New Year’s Eve!

Ingredienti {English translation and notes below}

  • 500 g riso arborio
  • 1 cipolla tritata
  • il succo di un melograno
  • i chicchi di un melograno (2 melograni in totale)
  • un litro e mezzo di brodo vegetale
  • 1/2 bicchiere vino bianco secco (tipo Sauvignon)
  • olio di oliva, q.b.
  • sale e pepe q.b.
  • burro
  • 4 cucchiai parmigiano grattugiato

Procedimento

  • In una capiente padella fate imbiondire nell’olio e a fuoco basso la cipolla tritata.

1w WM

  • Poi tostateci il riso e dopo sfumate con il vino bianco.

3 w WM

  • Aggiungete il sugo di melograno.

6 w WM

  • Cominciate ad aggiungere, poco per volta, il brodo.

4 w WM

  • Dopo circa 15 minuti di cottura, salate, pepate, aggiungete i chicchi del melograno (tenendo da parte alcuni per la presentazione finale) e continuate la cottura mescolando di tanto in tanto, aggiungendo il brodo quando occorre, stando attenti a non lasciar attaccare il riso.

7 w WM

  • Quando il riso è cotto mantecatelo fuori dal fuoco con una bella noce di burro ed il parmigiano. Spargete in cima i chicchi di melograno rimasti.
  • Servite subito e buon appetito!
8 w WM

If it turns out well, and your guests are hungry, this is how the pot will look before long!

Ingredients

  • 500 grams arborio rice (find it at healthier stores that sell bulk grains, or in a 1 lb box at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • the juice of 1 pomegranate
  • the seeds of 1 pomegranate (2 pomegranates in total)
  • 1 1/2 liters vegetable broth
  • approx 4 oz. dry white wine (such as Sauvignon)
  • olive oil, as much as needed (to generously cover bottom of pan)
  • salt and pepper, as needed
  • dollop of butter, as needed
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

5 w WMDirections

  • In a large pan saute the chopped onion on low heat until transparent.
  • Add the rice and stir it to absorb the oil and onion flavors; then pour in the white wine and stir while it evaporates.
  • Add the pomegranate juice [you can squeeze the seeds with your hands as I did, or use some type of strainer, or buy the juice ready].
  • Begin adding in and stirring the broth, a little at a time. [Cover the pot, stirring occasionally, while the rice absorbs the broth.]
  • After about 15 minutes, add salt and pepper, add the pomegranate seeds (keeping some aside as garnish), and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, adding broth as needed (being careful not to let the rice get stuck to the pan).
  • When the rice is cooked, remove from heat and cream it with a generous dollop of butter and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds on top of the risotto.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Leave a comment: Have you ever heard of or tried Risotto al melograno?

 

Posted in italian cooking, Italian Food, Italian Holidays, italian recipes, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Signs from Readers + Contest Winner | Foto Blog

Ciao a tutti 🙂 After an autumn hiatus, the blog is back!

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Today I thought I’d share  some of the signs that readers have sent in response to my recent blog posts, “A Good Sign| Un buon segno” and “A Good Sign Part 2 | Signs Around Venice“. Thank you so much for your lively responses and for sharing the pictures you’ve taken of signs in Italy.

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Here are my favorites… but first, the winner of the caption-writing contest, “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words“.

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Tante grazie (many thanks) to all who participated (click the link above to see their hilarious captions for the picture of the goose waitress (which by the way was taken in Pisa).

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So, the vincitrice fortunata (lucky winner) of the random prize drawing for a signed copy of Dianne Hales’ delightful book, “La Bella Lingua”, is… drum roll, please… TARA whose comment was, “Made fresh with real ostrich eggs!”

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Auguri (Congratulations) Tara! Get in touch to collect your prize by leaving a comment below.

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And now, here are your signs!

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These first two signs have gone to the dogs…

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dog parking roma

Parcheggio cani — foto scattata a Roma: “Ok vai pure, ti aspetto” / Dog parking — picture taken in Rome: “Ok, go ahead, I’ll wait for you”  [Photo credit: Rich LaRocca]

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dogs and  ice cream certaldo italy  cani e gelati

Cani e gelati — scattata a Certaldo in Toscana / Dogs and ice cream — taken in Certaldo, Tuscany [Photo credit: Carlota Brewer]

Translation of individual signs: 1) Marmellata di cipolle / Onion jam, 2) Noi amiamo i cani e li facciamo entrare! / We love dogs and we let them enter!, 3) Confetture e marmellate di produzione propria / Preserves and jams made in-house

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These next two signs bear the mark of Italy’s fascination with things American… [Photo credits: Laurie Monahan]

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 Obama Take Away Pizza Lecce italy

A Lecce in Puglia, nel tacco dello stivale / In Lecce, Apulia, in the heel of the boot: Obama Take Away Pizzeria>> Pizza-Rosticceria-Piatti Tipici / Pizza-Rotisserie-Traditional Dishes

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Twiligh tMenu Montepulciano italy

Un ristorante a Montepulciano con un menu’ turistico ispirato dal film Twilight New Moon, una parte del quale e’ stata girata a quella citta’ / A restaurant in Montepulciano with a tourist menu inspired by the film Twilight New Moon, part of which was filmed in that city

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These last two signs are evidence of Italy’s more amorous and bawdier sides…

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lucchetti di amore lecce italy love padlocks

Dei lucchetti a Lecce con dei messaggi scritti da innamorati, i quali dopo aver attaccato i lucchetti buttano le chiavi come segno di amore eterno / Padlocks in Lecce with messages written by lovers, who after attaching the locks, throw away the keys as a sign of eternal love [Photo credit: Laurie Monahan]

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macelleria al mercato centrale firenze italia, butcher at central market florence italy

Foto scattata presso una delle macellerie al Mercato Centrale di Firenze: “Mangiate i’lesso, fa bene al sesso”… Solo in Italia! / Photo taken at one of the butchers in Florence’s Central Market (and a rhyming play on words):  “Eat boiled meat (lesso), it’s good for sex (sesso)”… Only in Italy! [Photo credit: Daveen DiGiacomo]

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Quale tra queste e` la vostra foto preferita?

/ Which among these photos is your favorite?

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Posted in italian travel, Italian Vocabulary, learn italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Nutella-filled Red Velvet Cake Pops – The Odyssey!

Recently, in honor of World Nutella Day… Giada Antonucci (friend, Italian student, and baking-partner-in-crime) and I got together to concoct a recipe that I dreamt up using Nutella (that most delicious, creamy chocolate & hazlenut Italian spread).

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Annual World Nutella Day was just around the corner, and I got to thinking that rather than just celebrate it by merely dipping my spoon into the nearest Nutella jar (as I’d done when I discovered this day last year), I, too, wanted to participate in the Nutella recipe challenge.

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Next came the question: What to do, what to make? And so the recipe came to me:  Nutella-filled Red Velvet Cake Pops… I’d sampled cake pops only once, but never made them…  and thus began the baking shenanigans — If there was a mistake to be made, we made it — truly worthy of a Lucy & Ethel episode!

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So, first, the disclaimer:  Try this at home at your own risk, and you may very well end up with a messy kitchen and completely blowing your diet, but very happy taste buds!

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First thing, we had to procure the cake pop molds (we found ours at Bed Bath & Beyond), then get savvy on how to mix the perfect cake pop batter (an extra egg added to the standard cake mix; substitute milk for water, cutting the amount in half, and add one packet of dry pudding mix, in a complimentary flavor (to our red velvet cake mix we added chocolate pudding).

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Then be sure to spray the cake pop molds with a spray that contains flour (not just any old vegetable spray, as it will mess up the consistency of the pops). We used Baker’s Joy.

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Next challenge:  Spoon the mixture into the mold — no pouring possible — the stuff is just too thick! (Of course, starting with this phase, we made pretty much every possible mistake we could: First off we deposited our batter, forgetting to spray. Do over! Note to selves: Cake pop molds are a pain in the beep to wash 🙁

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Once done, you clamp the two halves of the mold together and pop into the oven for the suggested baking time. Naturally, we overfilled our first batch. Luckily, cake pop molds are built with an overflow hole for just this type of snafu. An easy fix: just scrape off the excess after baking… providing us with perfect mini samples — we were able to instantly confirm (via scientific dipping method) that red velvet cake + Nutella = yummmm!

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Despite the late hour (Friday evening, after a long day and an even longer work week) we knew instantly that we were on to something good.

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Now with our cake pop baking techniques down pat, we moved on to our next challenge:  Getting the Nutella into the center of the cake pops. To say it was a challenge is an understatement. Cake pops are tiny little deals, and even if we’d had a pastry sleeve, which we didn’t, it still would have been una faccenda difficile (a difficult feat).

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.injecting nutella with syringe

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After trying to use a paper envelope and then a plastic baggie (both unsuccessful), we finally ended up using a mini syringe filled (with sufficient difficulty, given the small aperture involved and the inherent thickness of Nutella… a bigger syringe would be much easier to wield). In our particular case, were able to inject 20-30 mm of Nutella into each cake pop.

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inserting sticks into red velvet nutella-filled cake pops

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Next phase/Challenge:  Getting the sticks into the pops. We used a combination of the sticks included in the cake pop kit and bamboo skewers cut in half. We dipped them into melted chocolate and then stuck them into one side of the cake pop spheres. Then we popped them into the freezer for for about 10 minutes fast ‘curing’.

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Next, the final phase: Covering the pops with frosting/glacé. We wanted to use a vanilla or white chocolate frosting, but after messing those up (wrong melting techniques, etc), our potential frosting ingredients had dwindled down to a bag of Nestle chocolate chips, which we melted in the microwave, adding, per package instructions, a tablespoon of vegetable oil.

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frosting red velvet nutella-filled cakepops

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But this was not the easy-peasy dipping sauce we’d hoped for. We ended up having to be very hands-on — basically frosting individually each cake pop versus dipping it(!)

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finaL PRESentation red velvet nutella-filled cake pops

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Mamma mia! What an arduous task! Four-plus hours after we’d started, at midnight, (and with the aid of a nice bottle of Italian red — we found San Giovese goes well with red velvet cake and Nutella ;-)) — we had finished with a yield of about 50 cake pops.

Whew!!! The result, despite our Lucy & Ethel-esque baking escapade, was delicious, as verified by our enthusiastic taste-testers the next morning at the Saturday Italian Conversation & Study Group!

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Afterthoughts:  If you want to try a similar omaggio (homage) to Nutella, go for it. If you avoid our first-timer mistakes, it should be a much quicker process. Should you want the same yummy flavors without the detailed work necessary to make cake pops, we suggest you make a simple red velvet cake and frost it with Nutella — same flavors and way less work!

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Your thoughts:  Have you tried Nutella? Have you used it in any baking recipes? Plan to try your hand at our crazy Red Velvet Nutella-filled Cake Pops? Love to hear your comments in the “Leave a Reply” section below… Buon  appetito!

 

Posted in italian cooking, Italian Food, italian recipes, Italian Vocabulary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments