Gadget World | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

I heard a whisper in my ears…. a shopper was telling me these new gadgets are for people who don’t know how to cook. How did she know I am a professional home cook? Perhaps the stuff in my basket gave away a hint of my serious cooking, who knows, but she got me curious to continue browsing around the shelves full of kitchen gadgets and to discover how other people cook or what they put in their kitchens.

Frankly, I must say, the gadgets look good in the kitchen, they are colorful,  give the impression of getting the job done better or easier and in addition give the owner a serious chef look, but when it is time to wash dishes, this is myself talking, do I want to wash all those small parts and components that make a gadget? I am sure after a while I would get tired and will deposit them in the drawers never to be used again.

(All photos taken in Sur La Table store with permission granted)

I do have plenty gadgets in my kitchen,  they are useful for my type of cooking, they might not be useful to someone else’s cooking.
The half-moon chopper, an Italian made tool is one tool I use all the time and the super fancy wheels to decorate my hand-made pasta. The wheels are very expensive but worth the price, they are custom-made by Luigi Desortes on the Italian Island of Sardinia. He is an artist, engraves the name of the owner on the handle and each wheel does its own original design.

My suggestion when you buy kitchen equipment is to look at your cooking style and find the tools or gadgets that will make your time in the kitchen easier.  Often a good knife will do all that many gadgets can do.

A long time ago, I invested in a large chef knife collection to last me for a lifetime. With those blades, I chop, shred, slice, cube, Julien and everything else. My kitchen drawers are not cluttered and my washing time is minimal. Cooking is an art, don’t make it a chore. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens, cooking and extensive knowledge of food. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms, and entertainment rooms. Check out her books available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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Loving Escargot | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

To kill them or to eat them! That is my question, my garden is so full of escargot.
If I ought to call them snails, slimy little creatures that destroy my plants and food crops, then I feel to kill them, but if I think of them as escargot, suddenly they become expensive and precious morsels.

Ancient Greeks and Romans appreciated escargot as a fine and delicate dish. Before cooking them, they purified their little stomach by leaving them to soak in milk bath for a few days until the snails got totally bloated and couldn’t get in their shells anymore. Purify them meant to eliminate any bitter grass or poisonous fungi (to humans) the snails had possibly eaten. The same practice goes on today.

The annals tell us that in 49 B.C. a certain Fulvio Lippino was the importer of snails from the islands of Sardinia, Sicily, Capri, from Spain, France and North Africa and supplied the large demand of the rich Romans.
Through the Middle Ages a plate of snails was well-regarded as a lean speciality. In fact, 3.5 oz. of snail meat without shells has only 0.4 protein and 0.05 fat, which means that calories are less than 65 per 3.5 oz. It is highly digestible, the meat contains water, salt and the shell transfers calcium and phosphorus to the meat. Snails are good food to protect against bacteria.

I thought that snails were one of the few poor food farmers could afford to eat. With rustic bread, a piece of cheese and a robust red wine their meal was complete, but at the beginning of 1800’s French chefs revived this little crawlers with the famous Escargot à la Bourguignonne, raising the price to a new height.

As I said earlier, before tackling the cooking it’s important to purify the snails from their saliva and impurities in their bellies. One way is to close them in a box with a lid well aerated on the bottom and leave them to dry for a few days; another way is to feed them corn meal until they are really fat (just like keeping them in milk) and can’t get back into their shells. Some people scald them in hot water. Whatever method you will choose, this process it’s important to eliminate the bitter taste and impurities.

Infinite are the ways to cook snails. My favorite way is with a light tomato sauce, easy and simple.
The only ingredients needed are:

Snails
Extra-virgin olive oil
Chopped garlic
Sun dried tomatoes (a few)
Chopped fresh tomatoes
1 Glass of white wine
A hand full of fresh basil leaves
Salt and hot chili pepper to taste

Sauté in olive oil snails with the shells, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Flavor with 1 glass of white wine and let it evaporate.
Add chopped fresh tomatoes. Season it with salt and chili peppers to your taste and cook for about 15-18 minutes.
Before serving, give it a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves.

This is the way my grandmother made them and has remained my favorite of all snail recipes from Puglia.

How To Eat Escargot

  • Snail tongs and a slender two-pronged snail fork are always at to the right of the plate.
  • Use the tongs to grip and hold the snail-shell in place.
  • Use the snail fork to pull out the meat from the shell.
  • Savor the escargot, then the sauce. Tear off a small piece of bread (usually a rustic type). Using the snail fork, dip the bread into the sauce. Enjoy the dish until the bread is gone. Trying not clean the plate completely it’s hard to do, but in a restaurant is not a good manner.
    Bon appétit. Ciao,
    Valentina
    www.Valentinadesigns.com 

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

“The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.” ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.
She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms.
Check her two Italian regional cuisine books in this site on the Books page and on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w  

Her new book ©Red-A Voyage Into Colors is about ready for publishing. Stay tuned!

Tonight, Eggs, But Only À La Coque! | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

In Italy, as I believe in most European countries eggs are not considered breakfast food only. Kids eat them as an afternoon snack and they are common to find in the home’s evening menu, as a simple, fast to prepare and nutritious food.
(Photo basket of eggs – free download pngimg.com)
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

In Europe lunches are the main meals and dinners are much lighter in portions and caloric intake. Often a bowl of salad, a piece of cheese with bread and olives, a glass of wine and a piece of fruit will make a good dinner.
Other times, some eggs scrambled with meat and vegetables also make a good meal.

In my native region of Puglia, in Italy, lamb cooked in the oven with fennel, green peas and scrambled eggs is one of the most common dishes. My favorite of all the egg styles is egg à la coque, oeuf à la coque in French, uovo alla coque in Italian. Before you embark on the egg à la coque ritual, because it is a ritual, you must have the right tools, the coquetier (egg cup) made of any material, from glass to ceramics to metals and the egg topper (cutter), also made in a variety of metals, each ranging in price from $10 up to $90. If you like to have a professional restaurant type topper, the price will be much higher. Stainless-Egg Topper

For long time, I had searched for an attractive egg topper, if it was a second-hand piece, or an antique I would have not cared, I just wanted an interesting piece.
Once I was visiting some relatives in Bologna, Italy. Strolling around in downtown area, I stopped to admire the merchandise in the window of a jewelry store, it was clear to me the store carried some unique home pieces all in silver.
The store was elegant and expensive looking. I entered because it was inviting. I asked for an egg topper and the owner looked at me puzzled: “nobody uses this tool anymore, you must be a food connoisseur” he said.
(Photo egg topper: http://vermontkitchensupply.com/hic-stainless-steel-egg-topper)

Apostrophizing one as food connoisseur is a bit over rated, I just want to treat myself to good things in life. He showed the only example he had available and I purchased. I was lucky to find the egg topper I wanted, it is made of silver, not a contemporary design and they got rid of something that had not sold in years. I have used it ever since.

Back in the kitchen. Prepare some mouillettes, long bread strips.
I cut the bread in slices, then in strips, brush olive oil on each piece, roll them in grated Parmigiano cheese, place under the broiler and toast for a few minutes. The bread is for dunking inside the egg yolk and a small spoon is for scraping the egg white off of the interior shell.

In a small pan, boil the water, with a needle poke a hole on both ends of the egg, when the water boils, rest the egg on the dipper and slowly drop the egg in. Let it boil for 4 minutes, take it out and place it on the coquetier.

 

Make a decisive clean cut at the top with the egg topper to expose enough of the egg, serve with the warm toasted mouillettes.
Asparagus tips sautéed or grilled, or a small bowl of green peas will fit really well with egg à la coque.

I like caviar, for me it is like the parsley in every dish. If you like caviar, place it on the caviar dish and eat it together with the egg à la coque.
What a way to end the day! A lite dinner with eggs, caviar, a glass of wine and you will be happy, happy. I hope you will try it. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved  


Valentina Cirasola
is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is also the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available here and in various locations:

http://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen


Silicone – Love Or Hate | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Silicone is not an invention of the last moment, it has entered our homes with hundreds of kitchen and bath objects and accessories to make our lives easier.
Thanks to all its properties silicone is a material that can be used in many ways. It offers all the solutions for cooking savory and sweet food, substituting the conventional cookware used so far.

The use of silicone went from commercial kitchens, pharmaceutical processing, and meat-packing plants into residential kitchens.
FDA grade silicone has been used in applications where food is present, it is guaranteed against toxicity and completely without odors.
Silicone cookware being lightweight and easy to manage are an ideal solutions for people with arthritis to the hands.

(https://www.afcoltellerie.com/eng/prodotto.asp?id=1599)

We can use silicone baking pans to make cookies, or bake a cake, to cook fish or roasts, we don’t need to use wax oven paper any more, nor butter or oils as non-stick techniques, thus eliminating some calories from our diet. Silicone cookware are flexible and bendable making the extraction of cooked food an easy process along with saving storage space without ever loosing its shapes. They are good to use up to 3000 times of cooking.

As a designer, I am supposed to report on new products. Silicone cookware is original, functional and very colorful, making the art of cooking a game even for kids. I am open to all new products and new opportunities, but I must be sincere about my own ways.  My kitchen is well supplied with the best chef cookware. The pleasure of my cooking is not only about the good aroma and good food I can cook, but is also about operating with the professional cookware and cutlery I possess. I don’t make it do, I have every possible solution in cookware for every speciality I prepare. Cooking for me is a serious matter and it requires professional equipment, but it is also a pleasurable game.

Lamb_Stew_In_Clay_Pot ©Valentina Cirasola

A lamb stew with beans in a clay pot as in my photo (right) could not taste right if it was made in an aluminum pan.
Each food need it own vessel.
I am still enamored of ceramic and clay pots and still love to cook in my stainless steel, all clad and Calphalon cookware. I am sure I will for a long time and that is the game I like to play in my kitchen. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved  

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.  She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos. 

She is the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available here in this site on the Books page and in various other locations: 

http://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen


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