Vernazza Updates:

Vernazza is well on its way to normalcy and while I no longer write updates on their status, you can learn about the devastating floods of 2011 by clicking the label "Vernazza Updates". For the latest information from the organizations in Vernazza and Monterosso, visit SaveVernazza and Rebuild Monterosso.

30 December 2013

Leftover Panettone-Part 4



This is the fourth installment in what I call: "Leftover Panettone". In Italy, panettone is sold during the Christmas season and is the classic gift you bring to someone's home when visiting during the holidays. If you have a lot of friends and family, that can add up to some serious numbers! So it isn't unusual to have more panettone than you know what to do with. If you find yourself in this particular Italian predicament, please also see part 1part 2  and part 3 for the other ideas.

This is a very special dessert often made during the holidays, so not technically a left-over panettone dish, but I'm classifying it as such anyway. Here, as in part 3, I use Pan d'oro, or golden bread, from Verona, which is a sweet, vanilla scented, and star-shaped 'bread'. Unlike traditional panettone, it doesn't have any raisins or candied fruit. Also unlike the the traditional, round panettone, Pan d'oro is star-shaped, so when sliced cross-wise, it makes star-shaped slices! Here, these slices are topped with filling and staggered so that it looks like a tree (a super sweet, chocolate drizzled tree).

This is a very flexible dessert, in that it can be made with any type of filling or decoration. But for this, I used a lemon curd filling and topped it with whip cream, drizzled chocolate and festive goose berries. 

Albero di pan d'oro
1 Pan d'oro
1 cup lemon curd
2 cups heavy whiping cream
150g chocolate, melted or prepared ganache
2-3 bunches of gooseberries

Open the Pan d'oro, carefully slice a thin layer off the top to remove the brown crust and slice the entire loaf into 2cm slices.

Whip the cream until firm and stir in the lemon curd.
 
 
Spread the filling in the center of each slice, layering the slices from the largest to the smallest and turning each slice so the star corners alternate.


When all layers are placed together, pipe the remaining filling onto the exposed star tips.
Place single gooseberries on top.

Melt the chocolate and pour over the top of the 'tree', allowing it to flow over the sides and drizzle all over.

When the chocolate cools, top with the bunches of gooseberries.

This is a simple dessert to make, but will WOW everyone at the table!
Serve in carefully cut slices, followed by a nice espresso.


Buon appetito!




12 September 2013

Beauty-full


Beauty.
  

What is beauty?

Beauty is, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder--but it's so much more than that. I am always seeing the beauty in everything I see, whether it be something really beautiful or something that most people don't even notice. And it's the noticing that we need to do more of. Nature is the most awe inspiring motivation for me. Since I was little, my walks down the street were always interrupted by the beauty of a flower, a caterpillar hidden behind a leaf, the way a weed can grow in the tiniest crack in the cement, or the big solid feeling a tree gives below it's burly branches. Still to this day, I notice these little things and I notice the absolute beauty that surrounds me where I live. 

02 June 2013

Brugnato in Fiore



Each year, the small Ligurian town of Brugnato [pronounced 'broon-yato'], transforms its streets into floral fan-fare. Many towns and villages across Italy will have such festivals and if you get the chance to see one, it is truly remarkable.


26 May 2013

Elderflower Delights


Late May to Early June brings the bounty of elderflower blossoms. Here in Liguria, edler trees abound and a drive through the countryside will leave you with a landscape of these cream colored bursts of flowers.
  
Their aroma is nearly intoxicating and the mere sight of these delicate, adorable white blossoms, bunched together to create a perfumed umbrella is one of the loveliest sights of Spring.

23 February 2013

The Italian Spring?


It’s no surprise why the Italian economy is in trouble. Like many of it’s European counterparts, Italy has been subject to credit rating downgrades, hyperinflation with the switch to the euro, excessively high unemployment rates, soaring public debt and a slew of austerity laws in the works to really put the squeeze on the people. Where Italy differs from the others, however, is the gross economic inequality between the working class and the ruling class.

Italians have the lowest salaries of Europe. The average salary for an Italian is 1,000 euros a month (if they’re lucky enough to have a job), from which they pay 22% percent sales tax; rent or mortgage and property tax; annual trash tax; Italian television tax (RAI); the highest rates on electricity, gas and petrol than any other European state and to top it all off, about 36-42% income tax. Could you pay all that and live on 12,000 euros a year?

“I’m tired of seeing people lose their jobs…lose their homes!”
-Beppe Grillo

In sharp contrast, the Italian parliament members make some of the highest salaries in Europe, ranging from 6,000-16,000 euros a month. With the addition of allowances and credits, their pay scheme is an enigma that a specially formed committee couldn't even figure out. Not to mention the end of term pay-outs they receive which can range from 30,000-83,000 euros in one fat check (this gets repeated with each term they complete). This is compounded by the fact that parliament is made of 315 senators and 630 deputy ministers. Let’s do a little math: 945 members of parliament x (I’ll just average) 11,000 euros salary = 10,395,000 euros drained each month from the pockets of the people (for more information on parliamentary salaries, click here). A funny side-note: I multiplied this by 13 for the annual cost, but my calculator gave me an error message that the amount was too large to display! But they contend that they work hard and deserve every penny...

25 January 2013

Dinosaur Kale



If you frequent Pinterest or any healthy/Paleo food blogs, you are aware of the recent Kale Chip craze. Picture after picture of crunchy, curly kale looked so good to me and I wanted to try it. But that lush, curly kale just doesn't exist in Italy. I certainly haven't seen it, even after searching far and wide. What I did find, however, was a very dark veggie with long flat spears that look just like, well, spears. I discovered that this "cavolo nero" or black cabbage, is called Dinosaur kale in English. The flavor is very similar to curly kale, but it is a bit stronger and mostly stalk with very little tender leaf. I'm not sure how it compares to the curly variety nutrition wise, but eating it makes me feel very strong and healthy! I even suspect this is what was in Popeye's spinach cans!!

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