Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Year, Another Giant Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated on Tuesday since the team has an away game today. Two things always stay the same for Thanksgiving here no matter what: the turkey is always huge and Ryan always has a mustache.

But I'll start at the beginning:

I wanted to go to the grocery store in Austria last weekend to stock up on rare Thanksgiving items, such as Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup for Ryan's famous green bean casserole and I thought maybe I could  find a pre-made pie crust (silly me). But we had a really snowy weekend and the car was buried, plus it was way too cold to go outside, so we had to stay in and eat soup instead.

By Monday though, the sun was back out and the temperature was up to a balmy -8, so off to Austria we went! Once we got there, we first remembered that we didn't bring our passports (but luckily didn't need them), and then remembered that we have no clue how to speak German and therefore weren't completely sure what we were buying. I couldn't find the Campbell's or the pie crust and I couldn't tell the difference between sour cream, yogurt and butter- so we ended up buying tons of this Austrian chocolate that I love and leaving in a hurry to go home to our Italian grocery store.

Then we got creative. We only had one can of Cream of Mushroom that I brought back from my trip home earlier this month - but Ryan needed about three times that. So he made up his own cream of mushroom recipe, mixed the two together, and the green bean casserole was saved! And delicious, as always.

I'm not a big baker because I don't love measuring things, but I needed a pie crust so I made my own out of Swiss butter cookies and....butter. It smelled amazing. I was going to make a pumpkin pie but on the ONE day of the year that we get to eat green bean casserole, I figured why not go all out and make a pumpkin CHEESECAKE instead?!

Eight hours later the turkey (and its separated legs) were done cooking.

And we ate! (And ate, and ate, and ate). Overall, another very successful Italian Thanksgiving. Today we're thankful for and thinking of our friends and family back home! xo

PS - Our first two Italian Thanksgivings here and here

Monday, November 25, 2013

November Risotto

This month our risotto is: pumpkin and pea! I mentioned last month that butternut squash and pumpkins are all over the place right now, and they still are, so this seemed appropriate. Here's what you do:

Start with a pumpkin. Dice it into small pieces - for two people, I did about a cup.

Begin to warm up chicken broth in a separate pot - I usually heat up about 4 cups. In a large pan, melt a tablespoon of butter and saute two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. I did NOT use the seeds from the actual pumpkin, but I suppose you could. In any case, be careful! They cook quickly. Mine were a little.....crispy. And the kitchen got a little smoky.

 Drama! Anyway, then remove the smoking pumpkin seeds from the pan and melt another tablespoon of butter. Saute half an onion until soft and then add your diced pumpkin. Saute that for about 15 minutes (or until it's soft enough to mash up) and then take your potato-masher and go at it until it's a pumpkin paste.

Add half a cup (for two people this is how much I use) of Arborio rice to the pumpkin mixture and stir to coat. Then you can start to add your chicken broth, one ladle at a time. Let it absorb into the rice before you add more. And stir, stir, stir!

About halfway through the broth process, I added half a cup of frozen peas which cooked as the rice plumped up.

When the rice is tender - and still gooey - it's done, and you can mix in a little Parmesan if you want, and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle your burnt pumpkin seeds on top, and you're good to go!

Friday, November 22, 2013

3 Italian Soups

I'm baaaaack!! I had a great trip home visiting family, eating cheddar cheese (and all those other things on my list) and now I'm happy to be back in Cortina just in time for the holidays! More on that next week.

Making soup is one of my favorite things to do in the fall - and anytime of year, actually - so this year I decided to master three real Italian soups. Here's what I came up with:

1. Pasta e Fagioli

When I was in Bologna, I spent half the time wandering around the markets there - everything looked so delicious and exotic, even though Bologna is only three hours away from Cortina! I bought a bag of borlotti beans because they were pink and white, and because I've never cooked with them before.

I decided on pasta e fagoli because I realized the beans were quite big and I thought they'd be better in a soup rather than sliding around on our plates. But actually, if you're making pasta e fagioli, I would recommend not to use borlotti beans. It turns out that when they're cooked, they lose their beautiful pink and white coloring and turn an off-putting shade of gray! I actually made this soup twice because I had so many beans - the second time, I mashed them up so that we didn't notice that there were huge gray beans in our soup, and that was much better. Here's the very rough recipe that I made up as I went along:


2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup beans - barlotti if you're going to mash them up, cannelli if you're not
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth - more as needed
1/2 small pasta shape - I used ditalini rigati
1 tbsp rosemary, fresh or dried
Parmesan cheese for serving


Heat olive over medium heat in a soup pot. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and cook one more minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to the time indicated on the box. Stir in rosemary and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan on top.

2. Ribollita

While I've made pasta e fagioli many times before, Riboletta was a new one for me. I used this recipe from the New York Times that my aunt sent me and it was fantastic. So hearty and filling that even Ryan agreed for ONCE that a bowl of soup was a meal. Finally!

3. Tortellini in Brodo

This is a favorite of ours and is possibly the easiest soup in the world to make:

Boil 2 cups (or however much broth you want) of chicken broth, throw in some tortellini and cook it according to the package - usually about 3 minutes - chop up some parsley, grate some Parmesan, sprinkle both on top and it's done!

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Homeward Bound

I can't believe this day is finally here because it seemed so far away when we first got here, I'm leaving to go back to Massachusetts and visit my parents/family for 2 weeks! I won't be posting while I'm gone but I'll be back later on in the month with all sorts of news.

A few things I'm looking forward to while I'm back in the great U S of A:

1. Cheddar cheese (yes, this is first on my list)
2. Taking a shower in a shower than is larger than a coffin
3. Having multiple early Thanksgiving celebrations with tons of family
4. Reading and understanding magazines
5. Eating sushi

Monday, November 4, 2013

Making Casunziei

Yesterday we were invited over to our friend Paul's house to learn how to make casunziei. Casunziei are little half moon-shaped raviolis that are typical to our region - you can find them in any restaurant here made with a beet or spinach filling and topped with warm butter and poppy seeds. Yesterday, our Italian friends Luca and Ellie taught us how to make them from scratch, with a fig filling which is native to their hometown of Fassa. We ate them with cooked pears and poppy seeds, and of course they were completely delicious!