venere black rice bowl, inspired by obicà

So here it is October already and if I were a good little food blogger, this post would involve a pumpkin. Ideally, something that could be called Decadent Pumpkin Fill-in-the-Blank. (Ok, brief aside…did pumpkin marketing frenzy start with those Starbucks drinks or what? It’s too much.)

There will be things pumpkiny and squashy soon (It is fall. Oh, well). But I returned less than a week ago from traveling in Italy and that’s pretty much all I can think about. I spent two whole weeks(!!) there, not an epic amount of time, but enough that I felt totally immersed. In the language, food, art. The color of the sky and the taste of the caffè. Every night since I’ve been back home, my dreams have been set in Italy. I’m still processing it all.

Being in Italy only made me hungry for more Italy. I soaked it up, and it will be spilling over and inspiring me for a long time – hope you don’t mind.

Italians make their way of life a priority. It’s a life close to the earth, the seasons, and hundreds of years of tradition, but the basis is simplicity. It feels so different from how we live here in the States, which may explain why it seems idealized to me.  I saw an art exhibit spanning the 16th and 17th centuries in Florence, at the Uffizi Gallery. It’s titled Puro, Semplice e Naturale: Pure, Simple and Natural – those are the perfect words to describe what I love about the place in this century.

In a few weeks, I’ll be sharing more about my experience as a DaVinci Storyteller, which is what brought this Italian adventure my way.

For now, here’s a few shots I took while wandering in Florence one beautiful day; the first was a small produce stand I walked by on a narrow street near the Duomo and the second an inviting-looking restaurant, open and ready to serve pranzo.  [Read more…]

spicy scampi with rosemary cannellini

spicy-scampi-cannellini-recipe

What’s your back pocket way to put dinner together when life has been too hectic? You know those days; when there’s no plan, not much fresh stuff in the refrigerator and hardly any energy left to think about cooking.

I can hear someone saying “I order takeout” – and I get that. I do too! After long days cooking for other people during my other job, there are many nights when I’m perfectly happy to leave dinner in the capable hands of Someone Else.

spicy-scampi-rosemary-cannellini-recipe

But there’s still something a lot more satisfying about cooking at home, creating a simple meal from what’s on hand. I rely on some basics to carry me through those days. I keep shrimp in the freezer, and along with a few other pantry staples - including cannellini beans, tomatoes and dried pasta or rice, dinner is served.

Defrosting the shrimp in a big bowl of water takes less than 15 minutes, and if your shrimp happen to be already peeled and deveined the rest of this recipe will take barely 15 minutes more.

Otherwise, if you’re able, make cooking a collaborative effort and employ a (hungry) kitchen helper to do the peeling while you open a bottle of wine and chop some rosemary.

Rosemary will keep in your fridge for a week or more and can survive indoors as a houseplant during the colder months, which in my book makes it a staple. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to smell and to cook with.

spicy-shrimp-cannellini-recipe

spicy scampi with rosemary cannellini

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound jumbo (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  2. 1 tablespoon crushed garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
  3. 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
  4. ½ - 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  5. Kosher salt
  6. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh rosemary and Italian parsley
  8. 1 cup cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained
  9. ¼ cup canned tomato puree or passata; such as Pomi
  10. 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the garlic, fresh and dried chili, ½ teaspoon salt and the olive oil.
  2. Place a medium (10-inch) skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the shrimp mixture in one layer. Cook 1 minute; turn the shrimp over and toss in the herbs and cannellini. Stir in the tomato puree and ¼ cup water; bring to a simmer cook a few more minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and the sauce thickens slightly.
  3. Add the butter and swirl until it melts into the sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  4. Serve hot over cooked pasta or rice.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/spicy-scampi-with-rosemary-cannellini/