CALABRIA’S SHADES OF BLUE

Being an Interior Decorator, I work with colours everyday and when I visit Calabria Italy, I’m always in aah with all the different shades of blue the sea can transmit. Not even my colour palette has these many tints of blue, from Maroccan turquoise to the deepest tone of blue. If blue is your favourite colour, these photos are for you.

Catona Beach

Catona Beach

Catona Beach

Marinella Beach

Tropea Beach

 Tropea Beach

Via Marina Reggio Calabria

My husband and I enjoy strolling along the beautiful boardwalk of Reggio and afterwards stop at our favourite Gelateria (ice cream shop)  “Cesare” and have a gelato (ice cream). What could we ask for more???

This gelato shop is the most popular in Reggio. It is a very small place, but with a large assortment of delicious flavours of gelato.

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FASHION IN HER BLOOD

When my daughter Paola was a little girl, everything was about fashion and appearance. In school she would use her mirror and lipstick more than her pen and books. In grade two they almost failed her because of her lack of interest. We had a meeting with the principle, the English and French teacher. The French teacher was suggesting for Paola’s best interest would be to keep her back a year. However, the English teacher was against the idea to fail Paola because she knew Paola had an ambitious character and was capable to do anything she wanted to do. Since the two teachers could not come to an agreement the Principal called a meeting to discus Paola’s future. He explained to us the situation and it was up to us parents to make the crucial decision to either pass her to grade three or not. My husband explained to both teachers and principle that we felt if they would fail Paola it would damage her self-esteem and morale. We felt strongly that it was better to move her to the next grade. It was a decision that we never regretted. We knew Paola was extremely smart, but she simply had all her priorities mixed up. She was a go getter and nothing would stop her when she puts her mind to it. The principal also felt the same way and agreed with the English teacher and us to pass Paola to the next grade. We told them that we would talk to Paola regarding her academics and within a short time, they would surely see an improvement with Paola’s performance in class. When we got home, we had a long positive conversation with Paola and explained to her that one of the teachers wanted to fail her because of her lack of attention and performance towards her work in class. We also told her that we felt that she had more potential to show and she needed to apply herself in full force with her academic.

As the story goes, Paola passed to grade three and every year after that with great marks. Today, Paola is a well-educated and travelled young woman. She became an esthetician after High School and enjoyed her job, but she needed more. After working as an esthetician for a year, she came home and told us she wanted to travel the world. I asked her how she was going to do that. She had done some research and told us she was still going to be an esthetician, but she would be working on a Cruise ship. Within six months, she was assigned to work on the ship Europa from the Costa line and off she went to see the world. Once finished her contract, she disembarked at the port of Savonna Italy. She took the occasion to visit family in Calabria, Italy and she ended up living there for four years teaching English. However, teaching was not her passion and in 2010 she told us that she wanted to try to get in one of the fashion design schools in Italy, but before making any decision she took a fashion design summer course at Polli Moda in Florence Italy. This experience sealed her calling in the word of Fashion Design. She had found her calling. She searched high and low for a Fashion Design Schoolin Italy and France but the tuition to many of these prestigious schools were as much as 50,000 Euros a year. Okay! I know it’s all wonderful and glamorous, but she needed to look at her budget and the most logical decision was to enroll in the prestigious school of Richard Robinson Academy located here in Ottawa, Canada. Going to school in her home town permitted her to dedicate herself entirely to her passion. She worked  part-time as an esthetician and this gave her some money for her personal needs. She lived at home where she did not need to pay rent. At home she turned the basement into her mini studio and began work on her Spring Collection.

During these past two years, her dad and I saw her create many amazing designs. She worked long hours making patterns, cutting, sewing, crying and pulling herself back together. The world of Fashion is not easy and it’s a lesson she learned right away. This past Sunday, she and other talented students of the Academy of Design Richard Robinson presented their Fashion Collection creations on the cat walk. I took the picture above as she was finishing her last evening gown for her Collection. The picture below is the day she handed in her collection. She was relaxing and relieved that her Spring Collection was completed and yet she was still looking to get inspired for next Collection by viewing the In Style magazine. I cannot deny she is a go getter!!!

Below are pictures from her collection. Pictures are taken by a professional photographer, Tina Picard.

Paola’s next step is either Paris or Milan. She will be applying to several schools and hoping one of them will accept her. She would like to specialized in evening and bridal fashion. Knowing my daughter, when one door closes she will find a way to open it.

STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH SUNDRIED TOMATOES

My husband enjoys grocery shopping and finds great deals all the time. When I give him a list, he is pretty good to find and purchase everything on it and sometimes he will buy something he wants me to cook for him. Oh! Just to let you know, out of his six brothers my husband is the only one who does not like to cook and this is just fine with me, because I do not like to share my kitchen with him. However, when my husband puts his nose in the kitchen he walks on a thin line. He is not allowed to comment on what I’m cooking until the food is put in front of him. Okay! I’m not that bad. However, for his own good it’s better he stay out of the kitchen because if I put him to do something, he has no idea where to start. The only thing he will do is try the pasta to make sure it is al dente. He does not enjoy over cooked pasta, he says it taste like glue. Anyway! The other day I asked him to pick up a few things and he came home with everything on the list plus 3 packs of pork tenderloin, I guess he had a craving to eat pork. I did not want to do my usual pork loin recipe, I wanted to try something different. I personally enjoy any type of meats that is stuffed and I searched for a new recipe and I came across “Gina Marie’s Kitchen” blog and found her recipe for “Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Feta”.  Gina’s recipe looked so delicious that I decided to make it. I had all the ingredients and when I opened the fridge, I notice I also had goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives and at that moment my creativity started to go over drive and say “What if you replace the feta cheese with the goat cheese, and add sun dried tomatoes, olives and spinach!!!” and so I did replaced and added extras. Here is my version of Gina Marie’s “Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Feta”. However, I do want to thank Gina to have inspired me to create my new stuffed pork tenderloin. Sometimes it just takes a few ingredients from someone else’s recipe to trigger your imagination.

INGREDIENTS (SERVE 8)

  • 1 package of pork tenderloin (usually has two tenderloin)
  • 1 pack 300 g of frozen chopped spinach (defrost and squeeze out liquid)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 slices of sun dried tomatoes
  • 10 olives pitted and chopped
  • 4 oz of goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto

FOR COOKING INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 knob of butter

On the thicker part of the tenderloin you’ll see a silver skin. You need to remove this silver skin from tenderloin. Cut lengthwise down tenderloin. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through. The loin should look like a book when laying flat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To make cheese spread:

Place in a bowl 1/3 cup of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of basil pesto. (Basil pesto is a made from fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. You can find basil pesto in your grocery store). Mix the ingredients well. Add cheese spread onto open tenderloin and spread all over tenderloin.

Next step is to defrost spinach in microwave. In the meantime pit olives and chopped coarsely. Once spinach is defrosted, squeeze liquid out and place spinach in a bowl with garlic and mix well. You can saute spinach if you want, but I did not. Next step place 4 slices of sun dried tomatoes per tenderloin. Add chopped olives onto sun dried tomatoes.

Place spinach and garlic mixture on top of chopped olives and next place sliced goat cheese on top of spinach mixture. Close tenderloin like a book.

Once closed you will have some of the stuffing coming out. Don’t worry, with your thumbs press filling inside. Tie with kitchen twine keeping that amazing stuffing inside.

In a large skillet on medium heat add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and a knob of butter. When the butter is melted add the pork tenderloin with the opening facing down, the heat will fuse meat together and will keep stuffing from coming out. Make sure to brown all sides of tenderloin. Do this step several times for about 30 minutes. Once tenderloin is cooked let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice tenderloin and place on serving dish. Serve with mushroom in cream sauce and roasted potatoes.

MUSHROOM IN CREAM SAUCE

  • 1 large package of mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon of freshly parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

On a skillet add 1/4 cup of olive oil and a knob of butter. Once butter is melted add mushroom, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Once mushroom liquid has dried up and are lightly browned add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and simmer until cream has thicken. Remove from heat, place in serving dish and sprinkle freshly chopped parsley.

BROCCOLI RABE WITH GOAT CHEESE

Broccoli rabe also known as rapini (rah-pee-nee) is part of Mediterranean diet. This leafy green is very common in the cuisines of southern Italy and because my husband is from the south of Italy and he loves the taste of them and if I want a happy husband,I have no choice to cook a dish with rapini at least once a week. Rapini has many spiked bright-green leaves that are crisp and surrounded with clusters of green buds resemble small heads of broccoli. The flavour of rapini has been described as bitter, nutty and mustard like. My husband enjoys the rapini in any way I can cook them and this recipe is one I cooked for him this evening.

INGREDIENTS (SERVER 6)

2 bunches of broccoli rabe (rapini)

1/2 cup of olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 shallots, chopped

6 – 8 anchovies fillet

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

1 lemon freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flaked

50 g goat cheese

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

500 g rigatoni

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Add broccoli rabe for 1-2 minutes; drain and set aside.

Crash walnuts or pine nuts. In a small skillet over medium heat add walnuts or pine nuts and breadcrumbs.

Shake pan in a back and forth motion until crumbs are golden, about 1 – 2 minutes. remove from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1/2 cup of olive oil, 3 crushed garlic cloves, chopped shallots, crushed red pepper flakes and anchovies fillet, sauteing until anchovies are dissolved.

Drain broccoli rabe, pat dry and add to skillet with anchovy mixture. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and stir well.

Cook pasta in salted water according to directions. Make sure pasta is al dente. Drain pasta and add cooked pasta to skillet with broccoli rabe mixture and mix well. Add toasted bread crumbs mixture and crumbled goat cheese. Finish pasta plate with a drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil.

This rapini recipe is my husband favourite, but there are many more recipes for me to share. Sauteing rapini with olive oil, garlic and pepperoncino (hot chili pepper flakes) and add some parmesan cheese and this fast and easy rapini recipe can be served with Italian sausages. Yummy!

BUON APPETITO!!!

GODFATHER

When we hear the word “Godfather” the images of an Italian mob boss comes to mind. However there’s more to granting a favours when you are a Godfather. Taking the role of a Godfather is a big honour and it comes with important responsibilities. Yesterday April 15, 2012  was a special day, my son Giuseppe became for the first time a Godfather. What a great honour and responsibility he took on. When he accepted the responsibility to be a Godfather, I told him that a job of a Godfather is to share the child’s well-being and he should be involved in the life of this little precious one. The most important responsibility is to provide a good example to his Godson Stefano. When his Godson is older, he should spend quality time with him so, they can form a trusting bond. A Godfather is not only in the name title but also in action to share, protect and as well to guide his Godson through life.

My son Giuseppe with his Godson Stefano and Godmother Sophia.

Little Stefano was so good when the blessed water was poured.

The promise of the Godfather is sealed with a kiss. I just love this picture. The two are bonded for life. I was so proud of my son and now it is up to him to keep the promise. I know my son will kept his promise and be a wonderful GODFATHER.

AGLIO, OLIO E PEPERONCINO VIVA STYLE

I was working on my blog or should I say trying to figure out how to post and add pictures. I must have tried 100 times and now I can say with confidence that I am still an amature regarding blogging. Oh well!!! I guess with persistence I will learn. Last night after struggling over my blog for hours, I realized that I did not have anything ready for dinner. Time on clock; 5:30 pm and within an hour the family was going to pour in one by one. I dashed to my fridge and to see not much was in it. Onion, sun dried tomatoes, a hand full of grape tomatoes, arugula, garlic (in an Italian kitchen it is a sin not to have garlic, garlic is sacred), some white wine, chives and a few roasted red peppers that I had made for Easter. Another dash to the spice cabinet to make sure I had salt and pepper check, hot chili pepper check. I had olive oil, but did I have spaghetti? Linguine will be just fine. Okay! I knew with these few ingredients I was able to create something. Don’t you love it when you got to cook under pressure? There is an Italian recipe from Abruzzo region called “Aglio, olio e peperoncino” garlic, oil and chili peppers. It is a traditional pasta dish popular across the country of Italy and it has only three ingredients garlic, oil, chili peppers and it is very simple to do. It is a recipe you do when you have really nothing in the fridge. However, I will add other ingredients to the original recipe and this way it will look like I slaved over the stove for hours.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

500 g of linguine or spaghetti

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 tablespoon of chili hot pepper flakes (if you like it spicy add more)

a hand full of grape tomatoes (that is all I had)

1 roasted red pepper

4-6 sun dried tomatoes without oil

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 glass of white wine

1 tablespoon of fresh chives

Prepare the ingredients; cut in two the grape tomatoes, slice the roasted red pepper, chop onions, mince garlic, cut up sun dried tomatoes, cut chives and sit aside. Add water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling add pasta and cook according to package.

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in frying pan. Add onion and fry until tender. This will take about 3 minutes.

Add peperoncino (hot chili pepper). The peperoncino will infuse the spicy flavour with the onion and olive oil.

Now it is the time to add the grape tomatoes and stir well.

Add the roasted red peppers (if you do not have home-made roasted pepper the ones in the jar are fine, but make sure they are without vinegar. I will post at a later date how to make roasted red peppers).

At this point add the sun dried tomatoes. The sun dried tomatoes have a very intense flavour don’t put to many in the sauce.

Garlic is the last solid ingredients and the reason is because I don’t want the garlic over cook it.

This is the best part of cooking Italian Style; it is the wine. It will give tasty and yet firm flavour to the sauce. Add one glass of wine and let evaporate.  Make sure you have a glass of wine for yourself. Chin! Chin!

Add the chives and stir. Shut off the heat and remove pan from cooking element. You do not want the sauce to over cook.

Before starting your sauce, add water and salt to a large pot. Once the water is boiling add linguine or spaghetti pasta. Cook pasta according to package. I know, I’ve said this at the begining of the recipe, but since I had this photo I liked and since I needed to pratice with media, I decided to put it in.

Mix pasta with sauce and place in serving dish, add arugula. Arugula has a peppery taste which gives a bite. Add some grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. And there you have it! What could I say? One more delicious recipe done with simple ingredients. The recipe is so simple and fast  to do. What take the longest is preparing the ingredients. Once you have the ingredients ready, you just add one ingredient at the time, stir after each ingredients is added and by the time the pasta is ready, your sauce will be cooked. My family enjoyed it so much that I decided to share the recipe with you.

BUON APPETITO!

SMOKED SALMON

INGREDIENTS

250 gr smoked salmon

1 shallot chopped

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

2 tablespoon of chopped parsley

juice of 1/2 lemon

6 thin lemon slices for garnish

In a bowl ad olive oil, chopped shallot, capers, parsley, lemon juice and mix well. You can also add the ingredients in an electric mixer and the dressing will become more creamier. Drizzle dressing on smoked salmon.

Smoked Salmon is so versatile. I like serving it with ricotta cheese and crusty Italian bread. Breakfast idea with bagel, cream cheese and chopped boiled eggs. Use your imagination and have fun. I have an amazing pasta recipe with smoked salmon that I will search with you soon.