Tag Archives: celebration

Friendship and shoes: is there a better combination?

This year Santa came a little bit earlier for me. A few weeks ago, I received a cute, gift-wrapped box with inside a gorgeous pair of shoes from Suede, one of my favorite stores in Milan.

I love these shoes! They are sleek, timeless, very versatile because you can wear them with literally anything and they are reasonably priced. And the colors? Beautiful and perfect for the season! So what’s not to love? If you happen to be in Milan, I suggest you don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the Suede stores. You can find all the necessary info and take a look at their shoes collection at www.suede.it.

I want to dedicate this post to the gift sender: my dearest friend Paola. Not only because she is beautiful, smart, successful at her job and super funny. But, and above all, because she belongs to that teeny tiny magical circle of people who bring a breath of fresh air in every room they enter. It’s a good gift to have, and very few people have it. You just have to be smart enough to recognize it when you see it. I still remember the first time I met her. I was in one of those awkward (to me at least) mothers-toddlers gatherings, one of those that I could not avoid simply because I had miserably failed to come up with a plausible excuse. I was standing in a corner of a room, trying to camouflage myself with the wall and pondering about my momentarily miserable life, when a very sophisticated woman approached me asking if I was Her Majesty’s mom. Now, you know when you are standing on the shore with your legs a bit apart, your body facing the ocean and a huge wave hits and completely submerges you, enveloping you in water? That’s exactly how I felt when she started talking to me. It was impossible for me to resist her charm, positive energy and great sense of humor. It was simply overwhelming! We have been great friends ever since.

On a similar note, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. On second thought, let me wish you all a great Friendsgiving. For me, family is not only made of blood-related people. Family is also made of those people that we meet during our journey and become part of our lives because we love them and they love us back, making our lives better one day at a time.

And that’s certainly something to be very thankful for!

Enjoy this coming holiday weekend!

When celebrations are in order: an epochal ruling and a tomato and provolone risotto

Tomato and provolone risotto

Tomato and provolone risotto

The saying goes that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I do not completely agree. I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion as long as it is respectful and mindful of the fact that other people’s opinion may be different and – still – totally worthy to be expressed and listened to. Of course, the following opinion is on a subject that has been controversial for more that half century and it is mine (and Stefano’s) only. Feel free to agree or disagree and express your opinion in the comment section, but please do it respectfully.

This post is dedicated to those five revolutionary and extraordinary judges sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court that last week didn’t simply made same-sex marriage legal, they upheld its constitutionality. Their ruling which is now the law of the land is an epic point of no return and, at the same time, a dream-come-true for millions of people.

From now on no State will be able not to recognize to two people of the same sex their right to get married. It may seem natural and maybe even obvious to heterosexuals, but the Supreme Court’s ruling constitutes the dawn of a new era where homosexuals and heterosexuals have exactly the same right to marriage.

Tomato and provolone risotto

Tomato and provolone risotto

But that ruling is also the final coronation of a dream that has moved the heart of millions of people for several decades. People who have suffered and fought only to be granted the right to be considered equal to others.

For different reasons, today is considered the birthday of the United States. We think it is so special that the Supreme Court’s decision came out only a week before Independence Day.

A day of celebration of freedom in a country that has shown to be capable of listening to the voice of gay couples that have fought so long and so hard for their basic rights. A day of celebration of freedom in a country whose President has greeted this judicial decision by declaring that “love is love” and “this ruling is a victory for America”. A day of celebration of freedom in a country that has built its traditions and grandiosity on the basic yet fundamental concept that “all men are created equal” with certain unalienable rights such as “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness”.

I know that the Catholic raising of those who write this post should prevent us from feeling joyful for this epochal change, but we believe that respect for any human being and their basic civil rights is more important than any religious belief. We live supporting the simple concept that we are all created equal, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation and that’s the main teaching according to which we are raising Her Majesty.

Today we applaud those five courageous judges and this great country that we are proud to have been calling our home for the last ten years, hoping that other countries (including – shamefully – the one we were born and raised in) will follow suit.

Now, since today is a day of celebration and there cannot be a proper celebration without good food, let’s talk about it.

I served this delicious risotto for the first time three weeks ago to a couple that Stefano and I barely knew, despite their being the parents of Her Majesty’s best friend. I was a little bit nervous because the “She” of this couple is vegetarian and tries to avoid to eat gluten as much as she can, although on that special occasion she was willing to make a “gluten exception” because she thought that my cooking was worth it! 😏

Since I didn’t want her exception to be too big, I decided to make a risotto. 😝
I was lucky enough to put my greedy hands on some super juicy and super good-smelling tomatoes and I knew that I had to make a gorgeous sauce out of them.
The sauce pairs beautifully with the rice and the melted provolone, while parmigiano makes the risotto creamy and even more flavorful.

Tomato and provolone risotto

Tomato and provolone risotto

Ingredients for the tomato sauce:
20 oz, fresh tomatoes
1/2 Cup, chopped red onion
5/6 leaves, fresh basil
2/3 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
Salt

Ingredients for the risotto:
1/4 cup, chopped white onions
1 Tbsp, butter
7 oz, Arborio rice
1/3 Cup, dry white wine
4 Cups, vegetable stock
2 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
1/2 Cup, shredded Provolone cheese
1 Tsp, dry oregano (optional)
salt

Directions for the tomato sauce:
Wash the tomatoes under running water. Remove the stem ends, cut them in halves and cut each half in 4 quarters.

In a medium non-stick pot, put the tomatoes, the onions, the basil leaves and some salt (to taste) and cook on a low heat for a couple of hours, stirring often, or until you obtain a sort of tomato mixture (the water from the tomatoes must almost completely evaporate).

Run the tomato mixture into a foodmill, place the tomato sauce back on the low heat and simmer for about 10/15 minutes. Turn off the heat and pour the olive oil on the sauce.

Directions for the risotto:
In a medium-size non-stick pot, put the butter and the chopped onion and cook until the onion softens.

Add the rice and toss to coat for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the wine in and keep stirring until the wine evaporates completely.

Add two ladles of stock and cook, constantly stirring, until the stock is absorbed. When the stock has been absorbed, add another ladle of stock and keep cooking until absorbed, and then repeat the process adding more stock.

About 10 minutes after the first addition of stock, add the tomato sauce.

Keep cooking, constantly stirring, and add the rest of the stock little by little until the rice is creamy and cooked al dente. This will take about 18/20 minutes from the time the first ladle of stock is added. Taste the rice to check if it is necessary to add some salt.

Remove the pot from the heat, add three quarters of the Provolone cheese and the Parmigiano cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted and you obtain a creamy risotto.

Put the risotto into the serving plates and dust the top of each plate with the rest of the Provolone cheese and, if you like so, some oregano.

We wish you all a glorious 4th of July weekend! 🙂

Francesca Xx

P.S. “She” didn’t say a word about the risotto during the dinner but I must have done something right that night because a few days later – to celebrate an exciting event that is happening right now in my life – she left a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the bench in front of our house. 🙂

Unexpected acts of kindness do not happen to me very often and I think they should be treasured, rewarded and immortalized somehow. That’s why I asked Stefano to make those flowers last forever. Curious enough – or maybe not – the colors of the flowers are those of the Star Spangled Banner – the American flag! 😍

Red, Blue and White flowers

Red, Blue and White flowers

 

My Savory Valentines: Heart-Shaped Mini Frittata

Heart-shaped mini frittataAs some of you may know already, my beloved husband and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been good in the romance department and the reason why there must be a specific day to celebrate your loved ones simply escapes me. What’s wrong with any other day of the year? Isn’t it better to show your love and affection in a totally unexpected way and whenever you feel like it?

Anyway, things have changed since Her Majesty has started celebrating Valentine’s Day and decided that we had to celebrate too. Instead of crushing her feelings (we are not that brutal! 😉 ), we decided to play along and celebrate it as a family holiday. Stefano makes sure that we have a card and a little gift for Her Majesty and, since last year, for Sofia too 🙂 and, on Valentine’s Day, we exchange cards and small presents.

When God decided to put me on this planet, he forgot to give me the sweet gene. That gene went directly from my mother to Her Majesty. That’s the reason why I always come up with some good excuse to take the savory path rather than the sweet path. I know that if I make a savory dish, I’ll be partying too as opposed to a sweet dish where, most of the time, I’ll be just watching other people to party. 🙂

Valentine’s Day is no exception to me! Last night, Her Majesty was making her valentines for her classmates. She asked me to make her favorite frittata and I decided to give it a hearty twist!

This frittata is very basic – exactly the way Her Majesty likes it! However, you can use your own recipe or spice mine up the way you want adding the vegetables and/or the spices and/or the meat you love the most. It’s all up to your creativity or, sometimes, whatever you have left in your pantry and refrigerator!

I have an additional reason why I like this recipe. I don’t have to flip! Yup! Flipping frittata is not one of my strongest skills as I confessed in one of my previous posts! Oh well! This frittata is entirely baked in the oven. Such a relief for me! 😉

Heart-shaped mini frittata

 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup, Extravirgin Olive Oil
4 or 5, Golden Potatoes
10, Eggs
6 Tbsp, Grated Parmigiano Cheese
1/2, Smoked Mozzarella
2 or 3 slices, Prosciutto
Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

Cut the potatoes into small bits.

Pre-heat oven at 325F.

In a non-stick medium skillet, put the olive oil and the potatoes. Add some salt (to taste), toss to coat and start cooking on a low/medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked.

Meanwhile, put the eggs, the Parmigiano cheese and some salt and pepper (to taste) in a bowl and whisk it until you obtain a smooth mixture. When the potatoes are cooked, add them to the egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into a greased non-stick 9×13 inch rectangular sheet pan.

Let the frittata cook in the oven for about 20/25 minutes or until it gets that beautiful golden color.

Remove the frittata from the oven and let it cool for a while.

In the meantime, raise the oven temperature to 400F.

With a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the frittata into hearts.

Cut the smoked mozzarella into thick slices.

Place one slice of mozzarella on top of one frittata heart and another frittata heart on top of the mozzarella slice. Do the same with the rest of the frittata hearts.

Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Put the sandwiched frittata hearts on the baking sheet and bake them in the oven until the mozzarella melts.

Remove the sandwiched frittata hearts from the oven and garnish them with some prosciutto and creative toothpicks. Serve them warm.

Heart-shaped mini frittata

I wish everyone who celebrates Valentine’s Day a “super-lovely” one!

F. Xx

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

I know… long time no talk, but sometimes life gets in the way and distracts us from life’s pleasures.

Anyhoo… hopefully we will soon go back to more regular posting, recipes and wine reviews, so don’t lose faith! 😉

Apologies to our many blogging friends for not being as present and engaged as usual in reading and participating in your wonderful blogs – hopefully that will also go back to normal soon.

Finally, we wish you all the best for a very happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year! Eat well, drink good wine, celebrate with your loved ones and… may your dreams come true! 🙂

Stefano & Francesca

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!Just a quick note to wish you all a very happy Easter.

Spring break is here and I have decided to take a break myself from everything (including blogging), go on a trip and enjoy some quality time with Her Majesty and my parents who just got here from Italy.

Happy Easter!

Enjoy the sunshine! May the Easter Bunny be good to you and good luck for your jelly bean hunt!

Happy Easter!

Talk to you all soon!

Francesca Xx

Happy Easter!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving table

Just a quick one to wish all our North American readers Happy Thanksgiving!

Saffron rice croquettes (Arancini di riso)Saffron Rice Croquettes (AKA Arancini di Riso)

Here you can take a peek at our Thanksgiving table and a few of the appetizers and sweet treats that Francesca is making as this very time.

Cauliflower croquettesCauliflower and Ricotta Cheese Croquette

Enjoy the holiday and, quoting our 7-year-old daughter, “be thankful for all good things in life!” 🙂

Mini Key lime piesRevisited Mini Key Lime Pies

PS: if you enjoy Stefano’s photographs, head over to Clicks & Corks for a sweet Thanksgiving promotion! 🙂

Warming up: Broccoli soup

Broccoli soup

2 Servings 

Here we are again! Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away and there are so many things to do if you have the blessing/curse to wear the hostess’s apron! 😉

As most of you may know, Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Italy, so we do not have a traditional menu. All our Thanksgiving “knowledge” comes from reading books and magazines as well as partaking in a few Thanksgiving dinners we have been invited to over the past years.

This year, Stefano and I will have a good number of guests over and nobody in the party, but her majesty and the daughter of another couple, was born in this country. Needless to say, each of us is trying to bring to the table their own ideas of what an American Thanksgiving dinner should look like with, of course, a twist from their own country. 😉 So far, all we have been able to agree upon is that there will be the gobble, gobble bird, some mashed potatoes and some Brussels sprouts. 🙂

Broccoli soupSince I’m the hostess, I have already announced to the guests that the appetizers will be 100% Italian (sorry, but I had to draw the line somewhere… unless any of you tells me that there is a must-have American appetizer that can’t be missed 🙂 ) and the appetizers will be followed by a soup.

The broccoli soup I’m sharing with you today might just do the trick. This soup is a no-brainer and anyone can make it. It’s good, healthy and is the perfect candidate for every night of the cold and long winter we have ahead of us! We’ll see if this soup makes it all the way to our Thanksgiving table – it is facing competition from the pumpkin soup, the recipe for which I published a while ago (if you are interested, you can check it out on this post)… 🙂

Ingredients:

12 oz, broccoli florets
4 potatoes
1/3 cup, chopped onion
1 ½ Tbsp, butter
1 ½ Tbsp, flour
3 cups, beef stock
1/4 cup, grated Parmigiano cheese
1 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
Salt
Ground black pepper

Directions:

Cut the potatoes off into bits.

In a non-stick large pot, put the butter and the onion and cook until the onion softens.

Add the broccoli florets, the potato bits, some salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat.

Add the flour and toss to coat.

Add the stock and keep cooking, stirring often, for about 30 minutes. Eventually, the broccoli and the potatoes will turn mushy and the stock will almost completely evaporate.

Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot and, on low heat, cook for a few minutes, stirring often.

Pour the soup into two servings, pour some olive oil on top of each, season with black pepper and finish it up by dusting the plate with some grated parmigiano.

Broccoli soup

PS: We like everything about Thanksgiving: its meaning, the fact that it is a family holiday, its traditions. Of course, we cannot say that it brings up childhood memories for me or Stefano, but her majesty has been blessed with being a citizen of two wonderful countries and we are trying to raise her according to both traditions. So, we have decided to go the whole nine yards with this year’s Thanksgiving celebration. Therefore, if you feel like suggesting a decoration, a dish or a drink that should definitely be on our table that day, we are all ears! 🙂

Still Blowing Like a Candle in the Wind… One Year Later!

Lava cake and US sparkling wineTime for celebrating: almost in sync with Heather’s beautiful baking blog “Sweet Precision” (happy blog-birthday, Heather!), even Flora’s Table has just turned one year old!

To be precise, F’sT actual birthday should have been October 1 – however, when we were planning the roll out of the blog we screwed up and the first post went actually live on September 30, just minutes before midnight… And now, for consistency, we just thought we would screw up once again by missing the blog’s birthday by three days (or four if you are really into nitpicking…) – what the heck, right?!?

Oh, whatever. We are still celebrating today because it’s been one year something of blogging AND especially because TGIF, which is good reason in itself to celebrate! 🙂

In retrospect, it’s been a fun year, filled with much learning about this blogging thing; exposure to several super-talented people from whose skills and knowledge we have benefitted and learned; enriching exchanges of ideas, perspectives, opinions with so many interesting, stimulating people, near and far; and the blessing of making a few new friends, kindred spirits with whom we have managed to establish a true personal relationship.

This last thing has been incredibly rewarding and worth one year of blogging in and of itself. Yay to that.

We want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our wonderful readers, likers, commenters and followers: thank you for being an integral part of a wonderfully diverse, talented and lively community. We are virtually sitting all together around the big communal table chez Flora – just the way we had envisioned the concept behind this blog when we got started.

Just in case you were wondering, in these 12 months the top three food posts (by views) have been:

1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara
2. Spaghetti all’Amatriciana
3. Saffron “Milanese” Risotto

and the top three wine posts (by views) have been:

1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara – Recommended Wine Pairing
2. Wine Review: Oasi degli Angeli, “Kurni” Marche Rosso IGT 2008
3. Chicken and Sausage Paella – Recommended Wine Pairing

To wrap things up, we want to dedicate to all of you a translation into English of a few verses from a song by Italian singer and songwriter Ligabue, which remind us of the interconnection (thank you, Tracy, for coming up with this concept – here’s to you!) and life-blending experience that this year of blogging has been for us:

This is my life
Some days it’s awesome
Some others not so much
It’s the same for all of us
Some days it’s not enough
Some others it feels too much, and instead it never is

This is my life
If you step in, ask me if you may
Take me on a trip
Make me my heart laugh
Bring your own life
So we see what happens if we mix them together a bit

Thank you all, and cheers! 🙂

F&S