It’s Easy Being Green | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

It’s easy being green in my kitchen. Vegetables abound even though no one in my family is vegetarian or vegan. Every meal is composed of various food, complemented with vegetables prepared in all possible ways. We eat everything, nothing goes to waste. There are no enemies at my table the “infamous calories”, we don’t believe in counting calories. We enjoy our food. Simple as that.

People who have eaten in my house, ask me why my food is simple and full of flavor. The answer is equally simple: I don’t need to produce complicated food every day, but I want to eat savory food, with layers of flavor easy recognizable one by one, inside of which every spice comes through vibrantly fresh. The secret is the freshness of every ingredient. In my kitchen, there is nothing pre-packaged, pre-made, nor pre-organized by the food industry. I go to market to get fresh food and I return every two-three days. My vegetable and spice garden produces a small quantity of food, if the season goes well,  and I take full advantage of that too.


What was green on my table today? Fusilli pasta with spinach pesto. When basil is not available, use spinach, arugula, or parsley.
It takes almost 15 minutes to make it, all the ingredients are raw except for the cooked pasta.
Before starting the preparation, very briefly toast a hand full of pine nuts in an iron skillet over the stove, or in the oven for 5 minutes. Be careful, they burn easily.
Now, wash all the spinach. Drain the water, but leave them a bit wet.
In the food processor, put all the spinach, 3-4 cloves of garlic and grated Parmigiano cheese (I used pecorino for a stronger flavor).
Turn on the machine and from the top hole, add olive oil a little at a time, until spinach have become a cream.
Drop the green mixture in a skillet, add pine nuts, season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Cook pasta al dente for no longer than 8 minutes. Drain the water, add it to the skillet with the pesto mixture.
Toss and turn, let it marry well. Serve this delicious green pasta with more cheese to add at the table.

This is a green dish to cook and eat at once, good for summer or winter. It will surprise you how easy it is being green and to eat green food.

Oops, I goofed, I should have used a yellow plate with this green dish.  Food photography should be equally appetizing. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is the designer who cooks. She has a deep interest in food that led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, well-being and learning food of the world. She wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of http://www.wine-fi.com says: “Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Shadow | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Early afternoon, the south of Italy rests with pleasure. Every business, schools and offices close down from 1:00 to 4: 00 pm. This is people’s time; most people go home to eat homemade food with family.

The sun reflected on walls mutates from bright yellow to orange, then from gold to ocher and finally fades into a Siena tone. Looking at these colors changing before the eyes, one has the impressions walls are empty canvases for painting a picture with gold foil and antique technique. As the sun turns, shadows and highlights add themselves into the deep ocher and gold. Everything picks up that mysterious sense of antiquity, simplicity and peace. The afternoon rest becomes sweet, lulling, magic, even without going to sleep, the world doesn’t turn for four hours. Shadows are so refreshing, especially in the hot summer heat.

Alberobello - Trulli Courtyard

Alberobello – Trulli Courtyard

Silence pervades the streets filled with the sun, they seem abandoned. At times one can hear a distant voice, a music on low volume, or a telephone ringing. It’s my native ancient world, it’s all familiar, I was made here.

As an expat to California, I live on the go every moment of the day, rushing to nowhere, floating in the air like an object thrown to see if it reaches a point, but when I am in Puglia, I feel grounded, my batteries recharge, the slower rhythms make life so right and I wish they would never stop.

giovinazzoombre

These are the shadows of happy guests in my travel group. That day we enjoyed our lunch, wines were excellent, food divine and laughs… well… I don’t know why they come so naturally in Italy.

(This post is in response to WP weekly photo challenge: Shadow).

Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

valentina-ValleMonteAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

Graceful | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

What do you do when outside is cold, damp and lonely? You go inside a family owned restaurant and find comfort and warmth in food. That night we did just that. The day had been relatively warm, a sudden drop of temperature was not expected for the night, but the prospect of being received in a restaurant built in 1900 with the tufa stone was too exciting to miss it. Gracefully, we were seated in a small room reserved just for us. The light yellow colored walls, the natural texture of the exposed tufa stone and the sparse décor were an invitation to feel at home.
I had no doubt food was going to be exceptional. Here, under the curved vaulted ceiling,  nothing mattered that night.

giuseppepouringwines
I couldn’t help noticing Giuseppe, the waiter pouring our wines with grace. He was elegant, attentive not to spill even a drop on the tablecloth of that precious wine, pouring from the left of the guests as the Bon-Ton requires, the seriousness of his motion, all said to me: “Here, you will be treated with class and grace“.
In my capture, Giuseppe looks totally absorbed in his task. Pouring wines is an art of its own, it requires knowledge, elegant manners, subtle motions and grace.

Wine represents the labour of many people and nature’s generosity, when it wants to be generous. The gracefulness of the people of Puglia towards food and wines tells how much respect they have for the land. Preparation of food is sacred, eating happy food prepared with love keeps people healthy.
Knowing that someone will take care of us, offering the best food they can prepare in one night it is grace to me.
The guests in that trip to Puglia are still talking about that night. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

valentinadivaglassesAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism and through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on 
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Rice Possibilities | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

risottozafferanofunghitrifolati

“Rice borns in water and dies in wine”. I wrote in my first book: ©Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity. Let’s start the year with something delicious: Saffron Risotto.

Risotto is a staple food for most of us Italians. It is not a fancy specialty as it might be in foreign countries. Arborio or Cannaroli type of rice, stubby, high starch content, is the type of rice needed to get the right creaminess in a risotto. Toast it in olive oil and a dollop of butter, softens with white wine,  add all the ingredients and cook it slowly by adding a few ladles of warm broth at a time until juices are consumed, and rice is cooked to a perfect cream. Some people make it sound so difficult, instead it is the easiest food to prepare in 20 minutes or less. I like to add saffron to get a wonderful a yellow color.

Improvising many other dishes with leftover food from the simple risotto,  it’s easy and the possibilities are endless: muffins, rice frittata, rice ramekins, rice torte, just to name a few. They are ideal for parties, make them fresh, don’t serve leftover food to your guests..

Risotto with mushroom: Cook the rice as mentioned above. In a skillet cook the mushroom. At high heat and 1/2 glass of water cook mushrooms only to let water out, then discard it, it would be bitter if you use that liquid. Add garlic and ginger in olive oil, bring the mushroom to the skillet, let them saute’ and marry together about 10 minutes, season with salt, pepper and parsley. Serve with the risotto mixed in or as two separate entity as in my photo (above).

Risotto muffins with asparagus. Cook the rice as mentioned above, or if you like to take short cuts use the Mahatma Yellow Rice. It’s not the same thing as making your own risotto, but it saves time, 10 minutes and it is ready. While this is going, prepare asparagus as you like. I brush them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then grill them. After the rice is done, cut the asparagus in small pieces, mix in the rice, add one egg and Parmigiano cheese, fill a non-stick muffin pans with this mixture, sprinkle Parmigiano cheese on top and bake at 375ᴼF until golden brown. Serve on a bed of mixed greens as in my photo (below).

asparagusrisottomuffins

yellow-rice-mahatma

Risotto Muffins with veggie and meat. Mix in the risotto some leftover veggie, ground meat, one egg, spices, season to your liking, fill paper cup cakes, drop them in the muffin pan and get a new taste. Bake at 375ᴼF  until golden brown. (Photo below).

risottomuffins_veggie_meat

Risotto Squash Ramekins (single portions). In the oven, roast a butternut squash seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and olive oil.  When done, scrape the pulp off the squash shell and mix it with the risotto. Butter and fill ramekins with the mixture, sprinkle Parmigiano cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake at 375ᴼF until golden at the top. (Photo below).

risottosquashramekins

Remember, all the ingredients are already cooked, it is only matter of marrying them together the second time when you have leftovers. Give a leftover an intriguing new taste. This is very easy, promise! Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

FedoraHatStampValentina Cirasola is the designer who cooks. She has a deep interest in food that led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, well-being and learning food of the world. She wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of http://www.wine-fi.com says: “Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Memories In The Caves | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I had the opportunity to take a group of Americans to the Caves of Crispiano, in Puglia, north of the town of Taranto on the Ionian Sea. Crispiano is also called the town of “100 farmhouses”, many with fascinating architectural features dating from the 15th century. During that visit, I met the mayor of Crispiano Mr. Egidio Ippolito, a gracious chap, who spent some time with my group showing us around and telling the history.  Crispiano’s caves extend for a kilometer into the region and are illuminated at night. Every December the city organizes a live Christmas nativity scene making the caves a magical place.


The caves go back to the 12th century, when Basilian Monks fleeing from the Turkish Saracene’s religious persecution decided to settle in Crispiano’s valley, a farmland without much housing available. The Monks dug into the earth rocks to make their dwellings and crypts. The caves were also one of the stops Templars made on the way to the Holy Land. The vignettes of Nativity scenes are on display throughout the year, the caves are open to visitors. Every character represents the lifestyle as it was in the 12th century, they are miniatures with revolving mechanisms showing the action of each one. In one corner, there is a man shaving the wool off his sheep, a fisherman sewing his net and the woodworker cutting wood planks, in another corner there is a woman washing clothes by hands at the river and another woman cooking. The faithful reproduction of the village in the caves shows how everyone contributed to life with their activities.The vignettes are an incredible work of precision.
The light inside the caves changed cleverly from day to sunset, night to dawn giving the viewers the right sensation of how it was when people relied solely on the movement of sun and moon.


The Italian national press described Crispiano’s caves as the Bethlehem of Italy. Hopefully, they will not be kept a well-hidden treasure for longer.
Tomorrow, on Christmas Eve, the live Nativity scene will turn the caves into a holy, spiritual place and I will miss it.
Happy Christmas to all and if you don’t celebrate it, take a rest time to ponder on your life and celebrate it.  Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintI am writing a travel diary of my last trip to Puglia with an American group and sharing with all of you my notes of feelings, observations, food-wine tasting and experiences that have changed the life of people traveling with me. The trips I organize are made for people who want to live it up in Puglia! In my books about Puglia cuisine, readers will find many references to Puglia’s history and many easy, healthy recipes to follow at home. Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

A Day In The Past | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the wrong century. The late part of the 1800s up to the end of 1930s is a time I favor the most. That was the time of straight-laced language and refined sensibilities, but I find that period full of modern energy as well. Innovations started to change the way people did things and if you watched Downton Abbey, you know those people had seen some good examples of innovations from the advent of telephone and electric light, to bread toaster, refrigerator and curling iron. With a little reluctance, they embraced the arrival of the technology and it was a non-stop of inventions from then on.

brad_toaster(Above: Bread Toaster circa 1890 by Landers, Frary & Clark)

curling_iron(Above: Victorian sterling curling iron late 1800)

Various historical styles movements and exotic décors influenced the architecture at the end of 1800. The revivals of Greek, Gothic, and Renaissance designs were fused with contemporary engineering and adapted to the new technology. We all love the Art Nouveau of Victor Horta, a Belgium architect-designer whose designs were fluid, sensuous and in harmony with nature.

victorhorta_tasselhouse_bruxelles(Above: Victor Horta – Architect – Tassel House – Bruxelles)

Nature had become the main muse for all artists, they used flora and fauna in any ornaments. They brought all the natural shapes found in nature to embellish buildings and decorative arts.
The same fluidity was found in women fashion. From the Victorian time characterized by bustle skirts, sexy corsets, plumes and laces to the straight shorter dresses of 1920, fringes and cigarette holders. Women had a regal, elegant poise and even in the simplicity of some of their dresses they carried an aura of sophistication.

I like to go to the Dickens Fair every year before Christmas to feel that straight-laced language and refined sensibilities we have lost. It makes me feel happy being in the past for only one day. The comical part of dressing up with a ton of layered clothes is the moment a woman needs to go to the restroom. I am sure women of that period mastered their needs, but modern women still wonder how they did it.

Live performances on stage are true to the period, the actors in the isles of the compound act out pieces of street life as it would have been in old London, there are many shops to visit with rigorously Victorian style merchandise for sale, there is even period food, everyone working in the fair is trained to speak with old English expressions and I am happy. Yes, I know I have already lived in that time. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintDesigner Valentina Cirasola is a creative master in the art of living who makes little distinction between work and play. She expresses her creativity in the homes she designs or decorates, in her book on the subject of colors, in the accessories and furniture she designs, in her cookery books and in the way her energy influences people around her. Do you need a special attire? She is ready to design an original piece for you whatever the occasion. Get a copy of her books here:
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Rare | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

A perfect long day of sightseeing, shopping and eating ended up with the rain, a light rain, a mist that makes you feel annoyed, damp and humid but you are not really wet, that type of rain that encourages to go somewhere warm, fun and take cover. Light attracts people. A feeble light illuminated the short sidewalk and the ancient artifacts surrounding the large glass door. Getting closer to the display outside, I thought we didn’t end up there by chance or because the light attracted us in a rainy night, Mimmo knew where he was taking us. Going through that glass door was like taking a dive into a different century.
Printing(Printing Machine)

A new world of rare tools and machineries of the past opened up before our eyes, rare treasures that would have been lost, if Dr. Vito Santoiemma, owner, had not collected for decades and cared for. In his passion to preserve the past, he collected objects of lost professions so old in time that some of them even go back to the Templars, such as the wheel for crushing wheat used in their daily life to make bread.

TomatoSauceMaker(Tomato Sauce Maker)

The Museum, a rare example of a rural civilization, arts and craft is located in Gioia Del Colle, a quaint town in Puglia, Italy, the town King Frederik II created in the 12th century. Dr. Vito Santoiemma found all the artifacts in private homes, cellars and abandoned factories, put them together without altering colors or shapes and dedicated a space that kept growing through decades. In this museum we can admire a rare wheel “Ingegna” to carry water from the well, we can learn how blacksmiths and cobblers worked together on producing decorative precious metals, offered utilitarian services of making shoes for horses and shaped saddles, or how they fixed wagons and trailers. The tools of their trades today have been replaced with mechanized machineries.

Photograpy(Photography Cameras and tools)

Wool was carded with manual tools, which are still in excellent conditions, the wax section for candle making is complete of every little tool used, there are tools for the umbrella makers, the milk maker, for the knife sharpener, the town crier, but to find tools to repair clay dinnerware and cookware was a real discovery. The culture of “disposable society” had not been invented yet. One of these rare objects warmed up my heart: the baby blue ice cream cart with a blue and white striped canopy on bicycle wheels. It used to go around in the streets of Italy selling ice cream to kids. Now, It only exists in this Museum of rural civilization, arts and crafts, a unique and rare establishment of its kind that we want to preserve and carry through generations to come.
Without a past, we cannot have a future.

IceCreamCart-A(Ice Cream Cart)

If you like to visit the rare Museum, please click this link, it will lead you to a short 7 minutes video in English : goo.gl/PWUMdY
Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
ValWorkingAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism and through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

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