Sunday, April 24, 2011

24 April 2011 Buona Pasqua and Happy Easter

Leo called this morning to wish me Auguri e Buona Pasqua! Oh it is not getting any easier being separated from him. This illness is now into its second year. I really hate being separated physically. Thank goodness I bought tickets for a quick trip in May. I could not get permission from my work to stay longer. I am grateful for one week. Leo and his best friend are planning time for us to see each other outside of his house.

Someday I want to be Firenze to experience Easter and see the Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart) in Piazza del Duomo.

Copied from
"Florence, in the morning in Piazza Duomo the 'Burst of the Carriage': the most famous ceremony of Florentine Easter that goes back to the times of the first crusades and mixes the Christian rite to the pagan tradition with the worship of fire. The Holy fires comes on a carriage hauled by six white Ox. Than the carriage is fired with a special fuse called the “colombina”. And if the “explosion” (fireworks) is well done, it will be a good year for Florence."

Yesterday in Italian class our teacher Michele spoke about Easter morning excitement, growing up in Rome.  It's traditional to receive huge wrapped, hollow chocolate Easter eggs. The eggs always contain a toy or surprise.

I did not know that these eggs can be made to order. After attending University, a friend of Michele found a key inside of his chocolate Easter egg (from his father).  What a surprise it was! A key to a house!

I bought myself a traditional Rocky Road chocolate egg from See's Candy, but I've decide to take it to Italy next week. I'm giving it to Alessio and Asumi when I arrive at their Hotel Cestelli in Firenze.

Dinner tonight will be roasted pork roast, wrapped with rosemary branches.

Along with mashed potatoes, I'm making this Italian vegetable dish, translated from my favorite magazine, Sale e Pepe.


Radicchio and Shallots with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

(Radicchio e scalongni al blue e noci)

Serves 4

250 g small shallots, peeled and cut in half
300 g radicchio tardivo (if you must, use red cabbage, sliced thinly)
100 g cheese (bleu or other herbed cheese or Gorgonzola
100 g walnuts, diced
½ C white wine
30 g butter
3 stems of fresh thyme
Sea salt and pepper

Sauté shallots and thyme in butter for 5 minutes.

Add white wine and cover pan. Simmer 10 minutes.

Wash the radicchio and cut lengthwise into four pieces.

Add radicchio to shallots.

Cover and cook another 5 minutes.

Place all into an oven casserole, top with cheese and nuts.

Bake 350 for 15 minutes or until the cheese begins to form a crust.

Serve immediately.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday night, April 22 and cooking alone

When Leo first came to the US, he was unfamiliar with the American "Friday Night." In Italy, it's common to go out with friends any night of the week. But Friday Night, a night to snuggle with your true love, cooking something special, enjoying a movie out or just having a grilled steak and DVD at home, became an evening Leo really looked forward to.

Even now, as he struggles fighting this cancer, he always sends me special Friday Night greetings. Separated, we dream of past Friday Nights and hope for future ones together.

Tonight I made one of my favorite dishes, which I first discovered in "A Thousand Days in Tuscany" by Marlena De Blasi.

The first time I made it for Leo, he assured me this was not a Tuscan recipe. Since then, I have found it in at least three different Italian (language) cookbooks.


Wine Harvester's Sausages with Grapes

Serves two

3 sausages (lower fat turkey sausage, hot or sweet)
3 cups seedless red grapes, washed and pulled off the stems
2 T fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1/2 t anise seed
1/2 t fennel seed
1 T olive oil

Saute sausages in olive oil until brown on all sides. (Drain off oil if sausages are too fatty and add more olive oil). Add seeds and saute several minutes.

Add grapes and rosemary. Simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes, until grapes begin to burst and a sauce forms.

Serve hot with mashed potatoes.