La Raccolta— Blog

La Raccolta — Blog of CASAGIOVE

The CASAGIOVE blog– a collection of stories, updates, recipes, special events and more! 

The freshest…

Sugo di Carne made by Patricia for CASAGIOVE

Un posto a tavola // Autumn 2016

I love this time of year— it’s my favorite, actually. I love that it’s starting to get a little cooler and a bit more crisp out. I love the excitement of going back to school and the hope that comes with it…
 
More than anything— this stems from my parents. They were both immigrants and the opportunity that America afforded was not to be taken lightly. My dad, especially, wanted me to make the most of all the possibilities out there. He had me writing on a chalkboard at a very young age and read to me constantly. He passed away when I was four, just before I started school, but I’m so thankful that he thought to prepare me and in a short time, instilled a love for learning that continues to this day. That love is no doubt why I became a teacher, and why I dream of ‘teaching’ and sharing my love of Italian food and culture in my very own market. 
 
With the cooler weather upon us, there is the return of a comforting routine: gathering together around a table each evening with heartier meals, bundling up for football games, cuddling on the sofa as a family before going to bed, and some more of my favorite fall things…

Jump to a recipe:
Spaghetti Bolognese
Baby Kale with Caesar Lime Vinaigrette
Insalata di Rucola e Funghi

Favorite Dinners

When it comes to hearty meals, it just doesn’t get any more comforting and satisfying than pasta with meat sauce. In the southern part of Italy, making meat sauce on Sundays is what you do, and it’s one of the sweetest southern Italian traditions my mom ever shared with me. The smell of a meat sauce bubbling on the stove for hours fills a home with love, and the deliciousness brings everyone to the table. My mom’s meat sauce will always be my favorite. Although I have made it alongside her for years, making her meat sauce on my own has proven to be frustrating. To me, it never tastes as good as hers; I can’t help but compare. So, I continue to work on my own version, keeping in mind the important lessons she embedded in the process along the way:

Take your time. My mom would wake up, enjoy her espresso and then begin prepping. It’s important not to feel rushed when making a meat sauce. She knew it was an investment and it was worth it. The flavors take time to develop and meld. Taking shortcuts doesn’t work.

Enjoy yourself. When making sauce with my mom, we often played music in the background. We talked and laughed. We would taste along the way, savoring each bite. Making sauce never felt like a chore; on the contrary, it was always something I looked forward to doing.   

Have confidence. Invest in the best ingredients.  We would make extra trips to make sure we got her favorite brands and the freshest components. We checked each item carefully and never compromised on quality. When you use the best, you can be confident about the final product.

 

Meat Sauce, bubbling on the stove

Spaghetti Bolognese by Patricia for CASAGIOVE

Spaghetti Bolognese, ready to be served

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Spaghetti Bolognese

Although my Southern Italian style meat sauce, called sugo di carne by some, ragù by others and salsa con carne by my mom, is still in the works, here is a recipe for another type of meat sauce from the north that I love making and eating. I have combined elements from both Tyler Florence's and Alice Water's recipes, and incorporated techniques my mom taught me, in order to create my own delicious take on this classic dish.
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes blended
  • 1 14- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes blended
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • kosher salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • mascarpone cheese
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • 3-5 leaves basil chiffonade

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and a little crushed red pepper.

  2. Add pancetta until crisp and browned. Then add the celery, onion and carrots. Allow the soffrito time to cook and soften. This will help build a lot of flavor. 

  3. Next, add in the garlic for about a minute. Then, add in the ground beef and veal, making sure to use a wooden spoon to break it up until the meat is no longer pink. 

  4. Add the wine and give it time to evaporate before adding in the tomatoes. 

  5. Mix the stock and milk together in another container and then add about a third of this mixture, lower the heat and simmer very slowly for 3-4 hours. During this time, as the liquid lessens, continue to add more of the milk and stock mixture, until you use it all. Taste often and continue to season with salt and pepper as needed. 

  6. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti. Mix the spaghetti with the sauce and then top with a drizzle of olive oil, a little more sauce, a dollop of mascarpone cheese, some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a few ribbons of basil. 

  7. Serve with a simple salad, fresh bread and red wine.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Favorite Salads

Here are two perfect salads to help you transition into fall…

Baby Kale with a Caesar Lime Vinaigrette

Bertie and I recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary in New York. We went to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden; it was a once in a lifetime, bucket list type of thing to do and we had an amazing time. While there, we stumbled upon a unique restaurant cafe, Gelso and Grand, in Little Italy. It caught our eye because it didn’t look like all the others. It was stylish without being cheesy; rustic with a touch of elegance; and the food was simple and delicious – all these things made it quintessentially Italian and it instantly became our go to for the next couple of days. We enjoyed aperol spritzers there to help beat the heat, charcuterie and cheese plates for the perfect bite and a Kale Caesar that had us swooning. Their version of a Caesar salad was different from any we had ever tasted before. The heartiness of the kale was perfectly complemented by the heat of the peppers, the acidity of the lime and the nuttiness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Such a creative and delightful salad!

Check out our new #Kale #Caesar with thin Serrano chillies and fresh grated #Parmesan #myfab5

A photo posted by Gelso & Grand (@gelsoandgrand) on

 

We were determined to replicate this perfect salad when we got home. Here is my version; we think it’s almost as yummy as its inspiration…

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Baby Kale with a Caesar Lime Vinaigrette

Inspired by a new spin on a Caesar salad from Gelso and Grand, in Little Italy of New York— the heartiness of the kale perfectly complements the heat of the pepper, the acidity of the lime and the nuttiness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Such a creative and delightful salad!

Course Salad
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 3-4 handfuls baby kale
  • 1/2 jalapeño sliced paper thin
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved

For the Caesar Lime Vinaigrette, whisk together the following:

  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 limes (the juice and zest of)
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss everything together and top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com


Insalata di Rucola e Funghi
 
Insalata di Rucola e Funghi, simple and delicious

Insalata di Rucola e Funghi, simple and delicious

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Insalata di Rucola e Funghi

Arugula Salad with Mushrooms. This salad is incredibly easy to make and so full of flavor!

Course Salad
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • arugula
  • crimini mushrooms sliced
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • fresh squeeze of lemon
  • kosher salt
  • parmigiano-reggiano shaved

Instructions

  1. Simply top arugula with the sliced mushrooms. Drizzle with the olive oil first (this will help to protect the arugula from the acidity of the lemon), then squeeze lemon juice over it. 

  2. Sprinkle with kosher salt and top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Favorite Flower

Nothing says fall more beautifully than stalks of wheat. There is something about the texture and color of both fresh and dried versions that instantly warms up a space. Here are two pictures that capture its warmth and loveliness. 

https://instagram.com/p/BIZN8UEgmnD/

A bundle of wheat can warm up any room.

A bundle of wheat can warm up any room.

Favorite Saying

Tutti a tavola! // Everyone to the table!

When it’s time to eat in Italy, you will often hear the phrase “Tutti a tavola!” which means “Everyone to the table!”. Pronounced too-TEE ah tah-voh-la, it is fun to say and a great reminder of how important it is to take time out of our busy days to connect with one another. Similar to our “Time to eat!”, but the emphasis is more on coming together rather than eating. Sure the food brings us to the table, but the conversations and interactions keep us there. From heartfelt confessions to countless giggles, from sincere thankfulness to animated stories… these meaningful connections bind us in a special way.  

When we remodeled the kitchen/dining/living area in our small home, we planned the whole space around a ten foot table. I’m sure some people thought we were crazy, but we had to make room for that table. And each night as we gather around that table, I am reminded why I am so glad we did.

Take time to express your love with a simple “Tutti a tavola!” today. 

Cin cin!

—Patriziella 

Marinating Pancetta Shrimp by Patricia for Casagiove

Un posto a tavola // Summer 2016

Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy dining al fresco with family and friends. Dining al fresco is simply eating outside; it requires very little and has the ability to top off a beautiful day perfectly, to make an ordinary day more special, or to brighten up even the toughest of days.  In the spirit of al fresco dining, I like to keep the meal easy and tasty… add some hanging lights and a little rustic charm, pour a glass of rosé and you’re set!

 

Favorite Dinners

Pancetta Shrimp

Pancetta Shrimp has become one of our signature dishes. I first enjoyed a version of this dish at Market City Caffe in Pasadena many years ago. Bert and I had never had anything like it – succulent shrimp wrapped in salty pancetta with a subtle hint of bright herbs and sweet balsamic…ma che buono! We decided to ask the chef about it and he quickly listed some key ingredients – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs and pancetta. We made sure to take mental notes on the overall look and texture. Bert and I repeated the list all the way home (this was before smart phones) and wrote down a recipe on the first piece of paper we could find once we walked in the door.  After some trial and error, we perfected all the details (including who did what – I got the ingredients and did all the prep, while Bertie grilled the shrimp to perfection) and “took it on the road”. It was a hit at parties and soon became a top request by friends and family. It is still a favorite and a wonderful way to start out an al fresco meal. 

Shrimp wrapped in pancetta, marinating in olive oil, balsamic, garlic and herbs

 

 

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Pancetta Shrimp

Pancetta Shrimp has become one of our signature dishes.  I first enjoyed a version of this dish at Market City Caffe in Pasadena many years ago. Bert and I had never had anything like it - succulent shrimp wrapped in salty pancetta with a subtle hint of bright herbs and sweet balsamic...ma che buono! We decided to ask the chef about it and he quickly listed some key ingredients - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs and pancetta. We made sure to take mental notes on the overall look and texture. Bert and I repeated the list all the way home (this was before smart phones) and wrote down a recipe on the first piece of paper we could find once we walked in the door.  After some trial and error, we perfected all the details (including who did what - I got the ingredients and did all the prep, while Bertie grilled the shrimp to perfection) and "took it on the road". It was a hit at parties and soon became a top request by friends and family. It is still a favorite and a wonderful way to start out an al fresco meal.
Course Appetizer
Servings 12 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs jumbo shrimp (U-12 or U-15) deveined and de-shelled, leave the tails on
  • 6 oz thinly-sliced pancetta
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil and flat leaf Italian parsley leaves coarsely chopped or torn
  • 2-3 cloves garlic sliced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a glass Pyrex dish, drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Top with the herbs and sliced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Then wrap each shrimp with a slice of pancetta and place on the marinade.  Top with another layer of marinade. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  2. About a half an hour or so before you are going to grill, take the shrimp out. Grill each side for 2 to 3 minutes - until the tail is pink.  A little char is nice, but be careful not to overcook them.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Grilled Pancetta Shrimp by Patricia for Casagiove

Grilled Pancetta Shrimp, ready to be eaten!

Pan-fried Chicken Breasts, come faceva Zia Emilia (like Zia Emilia used to make)

My Zia Emilia and Zio Ciccilio ran a farm in a small town called Santa Maria Capua Vetere in the Campania region of Italy.  Like most Italians, they were always ready to have you over for dinner.  No matter how last minute, how tired, how early or how late it was, you knew you could show up and be greeted with huge smiles, kisses for both cheeks and a satisfying meal. I have so many sweet memories from this special couple, but one of my all time favorites was the time we showed up because we ended up in the neighborhood, and my dear zia insisted we stay for a simple dinner.  We knew she was tired and had had a long day, so we tried with all our might to say no, but she wouldn’t take our “no” for an answer and whipped up the yummiest chicken for us. Although I could never make it as good as her (nor could I ever get chicken that fresh), I think she’d still be proud of my attempt. 

Pan-fried Chicken Breast, ready to be served

Pan-fried Chicken Breast, ready to be served

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Pan-fried Chicken Breasts

Come faceva Zia Emilia (like Zia Emilia used to make)

Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 4-6 chicken breasts thinly sliced
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to taste
  • freshly chopped herbs such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage...

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the chicken with a little olive oil and then season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. 
  2. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken, frying both sides until golden and cooked through. (This shouldn't take long!) One of my zia's tips is to not move the chicken while it is cooking and to only turn it once, so that you can achieve a beautiful golden crust. Sometimes, this can be hard to do... so once I put the chicken in the pan, I try to focus on something else like tidying up the counter or watering my herbs so that I am not tempted to fidget with the chicken. 
  3. Once you take the chicken out of the pan, drizzle a little more olive oil on top, along with some freshly squeezed lemon (or a little balsamic vinegar).

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

If you’d rather stick to grilling outside, I love this recipe from Martha Stewart using chicken thighs. And here’s a beautiful post, along with a great tip for grilling zucchine, from @pizzeriabianco:

This Summer your garden or farmers mkt will be soon in Zucchini overload , just a note on grilling I look for smaller firm ones my fav variety are the romanesco … These shown grown by @blueskyorganicfarms just a basic tip I find just slicing in half and grilling dry without oil (to prevent flare ups which can for me lead to off flavors) or salt (which draws moisture to flesh ) dry grilling will allow u to not only keep them longer on grill without burning but without the oil to insulate them I find it helps moisture to release easier creating a texture I like best slightly leathery but moisture still sealed … When off the grill (there done when they look done to time varies due heat and grill height ) when off the grill I then season quickly while hot w best quality extra virgin olive oil flaked sea salt turn of black pepper a pinch of crushed chilies (chiltepin) or what u have , a rough chop of basil , flat leaf parsley … A few smashed garlic cloves let all rest till just slightly warm or room temp …A squeeze of lemon juice is optional or a few drops of best quality balsamic vinegar I didn't use here i wanted a less acidic profile … Any way I had some time to kill and hope this helps some zucchini somewhere… cheers

A photo posted by Chris Bianco (@pizzeriabianco) on

Favorite Salad

Here’s a great salad for those dining-al-fresco evenings.

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

 

 

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

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Grilled Romaine with Caesar Vinaigrette

A great salad for those dining-al-fresco evenings. The Caesar dressing was passed along to me by my brother-in-law Jim, and we love that it is a little less creamy than traditional Caesar dressing.  The only ingredient I added was a little Tabasco sauce.

Course Salad
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 2-3 hearts romaine lettuce cut half lengthwise
  • Caesar Vinaigrette see below
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • freshly ground black pepper

Caesar Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic finely minced
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tsp Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce

Instructions

  1. Once the grill is nice and hot, place each romaine heart face down, and then flip 'em to get a little charring on the other side too.
  2. Top with vinaigrette, some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Favorite Flower

Chamomile

At this time of year, I love finding chamomile at my local Trader Joe’s. Summer is the time to slow down the pace and there’s nothing like the gentle honey scent of chamomile to help you do just that.  The delicate flowers are so lovely and instantly bring me to a field of wildflowers in the Lazio region of Italy.  This picture posted by @st_oliva captures the beauty and peacefulness of chamomile.

I recently added a sprig of chamomile with some twine, along with a handwritten Bible verse, to these paychecks. Not only does it look pretty, but I especially love that the sweet smell and words of encouragement can brighten up someone’s day.

Using Chamomile on Envelopes by Patricia for Casagiove

Favorite Saying

Butta la pasta! // Throw the pasta (in the water)!

Butta (pronounced boo- ta) la pasta translates to “throw the pasta”. When you are making pasta and it’s time to throw the pasta in*, that’s when you’ll hear this being enthusiastically yelled throughout the kitchen. Little kids, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents find the need to let the cook know “It’s time! It’s time to throw the pasta in the water!” And we all get a little bit closer to enjoying that satisfying and delicious plate of pasta.

*It’s when the water is boiling, all elements of the dinner are ready to go, and every guest has arrived (especially Papà) because it’s extremely important that we eat the pasta before it gets cold.

I got to thinking about this expression and why I love it so much.  I realized there is a lot wrapped up into these three words, and that it applies to even more than just making pasta. There are so many times in life, when we need to be patient, when we need to wait, when we wonder if the necessary conditions will ever be ready.  As the anticipation builds, the time finally comes and with it comes the joy of knowing that it’s time to move forward and to take that next step. You realize that all that waiting wasn’t in vain.  It’s a time to celebrate, and I love that Italians remind us to celebrate even the little things.  

As I continue to move forward with my dream of bringing CASAGIOVE, an Italian market experience to you, I am thankful for those “butta la pasta” moments – a new idea for a blog post, a new connection, a new lead, a conversation that encourages me to move forward…  I realize that all these moments are necessary steps in the process.  Knowing that the perfect conditions are just around the corner adds a richness to the waiting, and I look forward to the moment when I can share the final vision with all with you. 

Cin cin!

—Patriziella

Grazie for sharing!