Seriously sad. I have neglected posting anything since March 19, 2010. That’s pathetic. Though I don’t have any news on the citizenship front, so I could just be trying to avoid admitting that I’ve totally slacked off.
There might not be any news on the citizenship, however I have done plenty of cooking in the Italian arena.
Last Thanksgiving, I took my first try at making rice balls (aka arancini). My entire life, I’ve sat in awe of my Uncle Sam’s rice balls at the dining room table. So delicious. So perfect. The smell of fried cheesy rice heaven filling the house. My mom eventually learned to make them by studying her brother make them step by step. And her first attempt was a small failure to those of us knowing what they should taste like (note: she has since had no problems and also makes delicious rice balls). So of course, when I decided I would attempt them for a large group Thanksgiving extravaganza, I was more than a tad anxious.
*photo by Dara Weinberg
It may or may not be surprising that they were hands down delicious. Though always much nicer to have someone else prepare. They are a bit labor intensive. But look how pretty:
I’m gonna keep this recipe to family, but basically it’s a really cheesy rice mixture stuffed with a spicy meat mixture rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. Hard not to be delicious.
I’ll most likely make them again this year, since they were such a big hit last year. Plus, I really love them. Though, I think I’ll try making a few vegetarian ones this year so that those few sad meatless folks can enjoy them too.
I’ve been slacking for a bit on the Italian updates. But in honor of dear ole St. Joseph, I thought it only fitting that I hop back on the band wagon. Nothing new in the arena of my Italian citizenship, but hopefully soon I’ll get into gear and find a loophole to move that along.
Two days ago, I celebrated my lack of Irish heritage with a little St. Patrick’s Day fun. I will celebrate anything. Apparently, March 23 is National Puppy Day. Perhaps that means I should go get a puppy?? Hmmm, I wish.
Well, today is St. Joseph’s Day. And in honor of my Sicilian heritage, I will celebrate! The festivities aren’t quite as fun as St. Patrick’s day, but whatevs. Tonight I will make sfinge. (Recipe posted here last year.) I have also been wanting to check out the Italian church in downtown LA. They apparently have Mass in Italian every Sunday and I’ve never made it down there. They have a huge St. Joseph’s Table every year and it lasts all weekend. So, if my plan works out, I will wake up on Sunday morning and venture downtown for some Italian church and food.
And here’s a random Italian phrase to use this weekend… adding this to the pick-up line bank.
Il mio bicchiere si sente solo. Vorresti tenergli compagnia con il tuo?
• My drink is getting lonely. Would you like to join me with yours?
Use it well, my friends. And Buon la Festa di San Giuseppe!
I am seriously ridiculous. Somehow I managed to incorporate Italian into most of today. Details to follow… For now, here is the brief summary:
- Delicious coffee and cake at Italian bakery
- Looked into Italian language schools
- Thoroughly researched buying land in Sicily
- Came up with brilliant reality show idea allowing me to move to Italy
- Wished a couple of people Happy Birthday in Italian
- Found a few delicious recipes for classic Sicilian dishes
- And finally purchased The Godfather Restoration Set
So yesterday, I officially turned 26. Getting older much more quickly now and it’s kind of hard to believe that I’ve been living in LA for nearly four years now. Just craziness, I say.
But to bring the celebration to full strength, I had most of my family in town visiting and we ate far too much and had way too much fun. Caleb and Lea and I went to the Dodgers game on Friday and saw an exceptional game plus a nice little fireworks show. Saturday we embraced il vino at the LA Wine Fest, and yet again, had a good time.
Sunday the parents and Michael arrived and we all enjoyed an Italian picnic (including riceballs, paninis, and wine) while seeing Andrea Bocelli at the Hollywood Bowl.
That’s the view from our seats. Not the greatest quality photo, but trust me the view up there is spectacular. It was an absolutely phenomenal show. Not that I’ve ever had a bad time at the Hollywood Bowl, it’s just this was exceptional.
Monday night we ate more Italian food. Followed by fried chicken and waffles on Tuesday… not exactly on theme with the rest of the meals, but dangerously delicious. And Wednesday being my birthday we of course ate more Italian.
Okay, here’s the place. Michelangelo’s Ristorante. Absolutely fabulous. We started with several delicious appetizers and ended with several delicious desserts. But in between, I had the most glorious entree. Can you hear my mouth watering? And I haven’t even told you what I ate yet. I ordered one of their specials for the night… Eggplant Parmesan. But it was prepared like a lasagna. The eggplant was thinly sliced, breaded and fried. Then layered in a baking dish with tomato sauce and mozzarella and then baked. It was out of this world delicious. It’s seems like it would be fun to experiment with in the kitchen. Not sure if I could match their flavors, but oh to dream.
Anyways, I had an absolutely wonderful visit with the family. Thanks mom and dad for a great birthday celebration. Glad ya’ll were able to make it out here!
Been experimenting in the kitchen as of late. Here’s my latest dabble in the art of Italian cuisine: Mushroom Risotto (note, you can check out other awesome recipes too).
In other news, I met up again with one of my Italian groups out here and played Bocce on the beach. I think I must just be a natural. My team won with flying colors! Well, it’s either an innate skill or the winds were in our favor. But I like to think I’m just naturally inclined to win.
Also, my language skills are dwindling, so I bring you a completely random phrase:
Perche lei ha mangiato il mio asino? – Why did you eat my donkey?
My first experiment with zeppole was a success! Depending on the region they may be called zeppole or sfinge, but either way you say it, it turns out delicious. They are alot like beignets but creamier due to the ricotta mixed in. Look how tasty:
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cinnamon or nutmeg
2 tsp white sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 qts vegetable oil for frying
confectioners sugar for dusting
Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir in the eggs, ricotta cheese and vanilla. Mix gently over low heat until combined. Batter will be sticky. Drop by tablespoons into the hot oil a few at a time. Zeppole will turn over by themselves. Fry until golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Drop on paper towel to soak up the excess oil and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Best when warm of course.
I’ve read alot of variations on the recipe and some people even add in raisins or dried fruit, or dust with cinnamon and sugar instead of powdered sugar. I kept it fairly simple but added the cinnamon to the batter for a little pizazz.
Two days ago I wore green. I sang along to Flogging Molly. I reveled in the spirit of St. Patrick and a country to which I have no heritage. I love to celebrate. Anything really.
But today, today is the feast of St. Joseph. And today, I will grasp on to the tradition of my heritage and celebrate. I have even worn my red Italia t-shirt to work today. Must keep the spirit alive!
HISTORY LESSON!!! St. Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of Italy, and more specifically the land of my ancestors, Sicily. Legend has it that during the middle ages, Sicily underwent a severe drought and the people of Sicily prayed to St. Joseph to bring rain and prevent a famine. Well, as you can guess, it rained and the grateful people of Sicily offered up a massive feast in thanksgiving and honor of St. Joseph. The fava bean is what saved them from starvation and thus is usually prominent in dishes on St. Joseph’s Day tables. Hence, fava beans are generally deemed lucky.
Some traditions have people wearing red on this day (thus my shirt above) and eat a Sicilian pastry called zeppole. Later this evening, I will attempt to make my own zeppole. After which, I will report the outcome.
This day also brings back memories of New Orleans. New Orleans, like me, is huge on celebrations. And New Orleans, unlike my current city, celebrates in big fashion both St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day in a combined spectacular Irish-Italian Parade. So if you’re in New Orleans this weekend, you should check it out!
Sunday, March 22 – Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade (Metairie) – 12 Noon
I must say that despite the celebration of heritage here, the feast of St. Joseph is quite relevant to the current conditions in the world. We may not be dealing with drought and a looming famine, but the world is dealing with serious economic and for that matter ethical droughts. It seems that maybe a prayer to St. Joseph could be prudent at this juncture.