The picture above was taken last Wednesday arriving at Kennedy Airport for my visit with Stephanie. The Spring air feels great and I can't wait to hit the streets running and savor the sights, smells and sounds of the Big Apple. NYC is my favorite place not only as my Daughter lives here, but the opportunity to experience culture, traditions, history and some of the best markets and food venues in the World. With the Spring and Summer festivals and street fairs you are treated to the unique essence of urban city culture. My first stop was Central Park for a walk, and as always delighted to find these Gentlemen below "jammin" with that Jazz feel to bring you back to the 60's flavors of a typical Manhattan afternoon! Sit back and listen to the music for a minute....
New Yorkers have such a stylish way to create container gardens and small places that are so inviting to sit and enjoy the Spring weather. With the sun peeking through the stoop below captures the highlights of this traditional style. I absolutely Love it !!! ;)
From a Town House to a High Rise Spring flowers are blooming all over. It is the beautiful colors that compliment the vintage architecture that completes the feeling for me. I enjoy the experience, and equate it as walking through the art that you would see in a gallery.
With the afternoon coming to a close Dinner became my next thought ....... Stephanie had it under control and she whipped up a scrumptious meal of oven grilled peppers, onions and sausage with an arugula salad with beet noodles, tomatoes and carrot. Truly a delicious way to start a Spring visit with Stephanie in this beautiful City!
I absolutely love my pot collection! I've accumulated many and consider them my prized possessions! From Club Aluminum, Guardian, and Wagner to Reverware, Farberware, Belgique, Cuisinart and Le Creuset... I love them all! I tell my friends and family when I'm using them I think back to when I bought them and who I was cooking with and the stories begin. ;)
Over the last few weeks I've been doing a Spring clean up outside in the garden and planting new flowers and herbs. I thought about creating a fun new look and decided to use some of my old aluminum pots and plant some herbs in them. I thought they would look really cute sitting on my potting table or hanging on the fence. I already have grown herbs in horse troughs for years and was so excited to add and create this new look for my patio garden.
If you notice in the picture above I took this photo and printed it out and then decoupaged it on to a tile as a trivet. I felt so proud of myself until I saw the dirt smudge to the left and laughed for hours. I've truly learned not to fret over the little things and rather view it as it adds character! ;) Now that I decided to use old pots for herbs and special pretty flowers.... I have to antique more and pick up a few additional old interesting pieces. Oh yes...Right up my alley! I started this past weekend and picked up a few while combing the antique and thrift stores. I found a lovely Pewter piece actually not a pot, rather a serving piece that had markings on the back from London. I'm going to make it up for either my Kitchen or Dining room table. I told my husband this is a win win as with all the time I've spent setting up my garden, has left me less time to do other shopping. The best part is all the fun things I've been doing using the herbs each day. I've recently made pickles, pickled okra, herb flavored Vodka for Bloody Marys as well as herbed vinegar. I'm really enjoying the time spent in my garden and slowly overcoming my fear of anything that crawls. It's so funny as I still wear long rubber clothes that are yellow so I can see anything that comes near my gloves! I would love to look like one of those natural gardeners with fancy apron etc but I'm dressed to protect myself from the element! LOL! I've really come along way working outside and really proud of the results.
Above is a picture of the piece from England that I mentioned and two ideas for a centerpiece. One with grapes for the dining room table and the other perhaps simple greens. Of course I couldn't resist and threw in my signature Crown as an accessory. I love the charm it brings as well as all the conversation it generates! There is always something about Crowns that sparks a certain fascination.....I know it does for me!
A Pasty has become one of my favorite quick suppers! You can make use of your leftovers and transform them into a pastry shell and create your own unique shapes! ;) Next you pop them in the oven for 35-40 minutes, while your tossing a Salad or making a quick soup and then sit down and enjoy, while imaging yourself across the big Pond in jolly old England!
The Pasty above was stuffed with leftover steak and veggies from a barbecue and the others chicken and veggies. You can make them with virtually any filling all vegetable or even lentils or beans. Don't make them to saucy as the sauce will drizzle out the sides while cooking and take away from the appearance.
I know this as I've been there done that more than once!
I know I can hear from where I'm sitting the gasps of breath for putting a picture of Lard as an ingredient. First off my defense is less is more and your not going to eat all 6-8 pastys yourself, that called for 1/4 cup lard .....no Butter. Now you could use all butter or half and half lard to butter or my last choice Crisco. I did my research and unless your vegetarian there is a good argument out there that animal Fat=Lard is actually a better choice than Veg lard due to the processing. If you find lard offensive use a little Crisco or all butter or bacon fat or as I like to create for Britalia Way recipes is a pastry using pancetta that you have cut small and chopped in a mini processor to make it smooth. The flavor is fantastic and of course for Britalia Way it combines an Italian ingredient with an English recipe! ;) ...Not to mention people" Do Not" equate Pancetta to lard rather a delicious product you pick up at an Italian Salumeria! Seriously pasty's are something you don't have every night and the fat content is probably less than store bought processed pie and bread products eaten far more often.
I've made all different types of stuffing and I really like leftover Escarole and beans or Escarole and Sausage. Vegetarians could use cabbage, carrot, peas and parsnips and add cream of celery soup to bind together. Tuna fish , red peppers , onions and capers and bind with a little mayonnaise and chili sauce. I've tasted many from Myers of Keswick in Manhattan and they have beef and onions with delicious mushrooms etc. There are endless ideas just use leftovers and try them some evening and possibly pour a pint to serve as your beverage!
This past weekend we took a drive to Mt. Dora to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary and enjoy some Antiquing in this lovely town. The little shops along Main street are so inviting and each carry so many unique items made by local artists. The town also boosts a wide variety of great Restaurants as well. I was truly excited when I learned that the Annual Garden Show was being held this past Sunday at Rennigers Antique and Flea Market! Aw yes a trifecta for me staying at the lovely Heron Cay Lakeview Bed and Breakfast, Antiquing at the Garden show and then enjoying the local restaurants celebrating our Anniversary for a few days! There's always room for another Martini!:)
We headed up Sunday morning and went straight to the Garden show and was amazed how large a show it was. Needless to say I had to take it all in and we spent 4 hours meandering both inside and outside at all there was to see. The top picture was the first booth as we walked in and I bought some lovely dried lavender there. My other great finds included an old sewing machine drawer pictured below that I put some potted plants in that I had at home. I also purchased some lace that day as well as a metal wall vase. I finished off the show with two ceramic boxes that have crowns (my favorite thing) on them. Another store in town called Piece of Mine brought a purchase of the lovely flower pot that I put the lavender in and I added moss! Little pretty things make me happy! ;) Next we enjoyed cocktails at the Lost Parrot in town and then headed over to the Bed and Breakfast to check in.
We were greeted by Margie the innkeeper and shown to our room. It was a lovely room overlooking the Lake with a four poster bed and we thought just perfect. Well to make a long story short on our way down to get our clothes she showed us the just Heavenly Suite and we decided to stay in that one as it was available. A grand room with a King Bed, Fireplace and sitting room and finished off with a huge Bath and dressing area. The bath was decorated with antiques as was the room and made it feel all that nicer. Chandeliers in the bathroom.......yes savvy style!
It was truly a beautiful three day get away with all the bells and whistles! As always we love to talk with everyone we meet and while having Dinner at Pisces Rising a Florida Steak and Seafood Restaurant we met Maggie and Kevin. Our tables were back to back and Kevin heard me asking about dessert and he said don't count calories just do it! Well five minutes later they joined us at our table and we shared lots of good conversation, laughs and the beautiful evening breeze sitting on the patio overlooking the Lake with music to boot!
Monday morning we met Laura and Dave that were staying at the Bed and Breakfast as well. We started talking and then set off in different directions. We stopped at the Olive Branch Restaurant to check out the menu for dinner and they were there having a drink. Once again lots of talk and then we decided to meet them there later for dinner and celebrate our Anniversary's together ! We had such a lovely evening and really got to know each other and plan on meeting up again soon.
Once again sharing special moments with two special couples made our get away all the more memorable. Thanks to our innkeepers Margie and Randy for a delightful stay at your gracious home and the delicious Breakfast served each morning!
March has been a busy month at my house both with projects and a visit from my girlfriend Carol. I look forward to her visits for all the fun we have visiting, shopping and of course our talks on solving the World's problems! ;) As she tells friends she is in "Finance" ..... moving money in all stores and creating a need for industry to supply pretty items at discounted prices! ;)
We have the best times collaborating ideas and then shopping from stores to antique malls, to thrift shops in pursuit of the perfect items to create a new idea we've envisioned!
She arrived with a big bag of presents for my Birthday and we began right away figuring out the best place to display them. Her presents were all crown related starting with a beautiful gold bird with a crown pictured above, Crown Measuring Spoons, Crown Napkin Rings, A Crown Bookmark from Ireland with an Irish Cookbook, a crown applique for Furniture and then a beautiful pair of Crown Crystal earnings from My Flat in London! Awe Yes I certainly felt like a Queen the day she arrived! Thanks Carol for all my presents and creating memories I get to look at and enjoy. ;)
Starting with the wreath above that I had in a closet and with the addition of some Ivy, a little ribbon and then of course my new bird Bella with her crown. She is now proudly hanging in the Pool bath also known as the Queens Throne!
March was certainly a busy month and Carols visit made it so memorable. From a Paul Anka concert at Sunrise Theater, my neighbors 50th Anniversary Party, Reiki one evening, as well as Meditation, endless shopping and visits with my neighbor Addie who had us over for a lovely breakfast and my good friend Paola who had us over for Tea and her special Cassata cake pictured below.
With the end of March comes a new month to enjoy the Spring and a visit from both Stephanie and Stephen for Easter. I'm looking forward to making a Pizza Rustica and Grain Pie and will keep you updated with pictures. Happy Spring!!!
It's hard to believe that my last post was from Feb.17th! The past five weeks have flown by and with so many great memories to share at Britalia Way. Starting back on Feb 16th we enjoyed an evening with Jay Leno at the Sunrise Theater. We were so happy to get a chance to meet him before the show and take a picture and then I snapped this selfie of us above.
He is such a nice guy and his show was fabulous. He hasn't lost touch with reality with all his success and it shows! An hour and a half of non stop laughter and you leave his show wishing we could still turn him on every night at 11:30 on the Tonight Show! His jokes are hilarious as he pokes fun at simple everyday subjects without the need to use curse words or put someone down in a negative way. Even his political jokes don't demean or disgrace, rather his delivery of some as questions make them even funnier! ;)
Truly a style all his own with facial gestures that can't be beat! I can't say enough of how entertaining Jay is other than..... If he comes to your town, don't miss his show!
I love hanging pots in my kitchen I love looking at them, but mainly I hang them as I don't like trying to fight with them when there stored in cabinets and get stuck in each other....Right!! :) Problem solved..... I have two pot racks in my Kitchen and love the convenience as well as the style it brings to the room. I still store the larger stock pots in the lower cabinets and make all sorts of sounds when trying to retrieve them and then put the others back where they belong. Actually I think I hear some of you laughing thinking the same thing! Really this is hilarious as most of the world is in chaos over so many issues and I choose to write about hanging pots. In the above picture, you can see I use my Asparagus pot as a vessel for utensils and the strainer for that pot also for assorted spoons etc. It is amazing how easy it is to reach and not fumble around in a drawer. If your about to click off as this post is too corny ....I'm about to share an exciting game I've been asked to participate in! ;)
My nephew Salvatore who is a chef sent me a letter last week asking me if I would share some ideas and be part of the game "My Last Supper" It's a game chefs have enjoyed for decades and seemed to keep it among themselves in the profession. Then along came author Melanie Dunea in 2007 who asked 50 of the World's famous chefs to participate with a picture of the Chef and create a great book for all to enjoy. The object of the game is to answer 6 simple questions:
What would be your last meal on Earth
What would be the setting for the meal
What would you Drink with your Meal ;) That's easy Martini!
Would there be Music
Who would be your Dining Companions!
Who would prepare the meal
Sal (my nephew) thought it would be fun to ask fifty of his friends and relatives to participate. Recipes are optional....are we surprised Chefs usually keep them to themselves or if your like me never formally measure unless baking and rely on our hands and eyes as our measuring tools. I'm excited and plan to think about it over the weekend, possibly pondering the ideas over a lovely Martini recalling meals shared with special people.
For me it's all about the experience and in the picture above you see a rolling pin.... not just a kitchen tool but a rolling pin that holds a very special memory. I purchased that in Montisi Italy at a little shop not far from the bed and breakfast where we were staying. This was a small village and the shops were mostly for the locals or the few tourists (very few) that were there. I still remember walking in and being greeted by the lovely Italian woman and the sincerity in her eyes. With her limited English we shared a memorable exchange as I looked at all her cooking and handmade items she displayed so nicely. There were kitchen tools, aprons, towels and china one nicer than the next. This particular rolling pin has ridges so when you roll it across the dough the Pasta strands are evenly cut..... Perfect for Tagliatelle! She took the pin in her hands to demonstrate and I was immediately taken by her genuine love for cooking and sharing of ideas.
Truly a heartfelt moment for me and one that I recall each time I roll this pin across fresh pasta dough.
Many times when I'm cooking my thoughts take me back to when I've enjoyed the dish that I'm preparing. I'm conscious of what I'm doing but actually imagining the taste, presentation and memory of a simple meal. The above pasta was at a restaurant outside of Florence Italy where we were shopping at a local Antique market. This little Trattoria had set up a tented area in the Town Square for their patrons to enjoy the festivities while enjoying their meal. I can remember the day, the weather, the presentation.....OK you get it I'm obsessed over a bowl of Pasta!!! ;)
Back to my point..... many times as I cook I've realized I'm actually in a meditation of sorts. I came to this conclusion after enjoying a guided meditation class where the teacher was reading from a book called Hidden Treasures by Gangaji. She read a passage that called attention to Conscious awareness of Silence. It was interesting to me as I realized that in my interpretation of her words I applied it to dreaming or even lost in a trance or merely concentration itself. When I dream, I'm aware of animated visions but not sound . As I gave it more thought that day after the class I realized how many opportunities we have to meditate without the formal setting being seated and relaxed and closing your eyes. Sometimes Meditation is simply when our minds concentrate on the task at hand. For me ......that is cooking!
From gathering my ingredients, preparing them and then enjoying the aroma of their flavors is a practice of Meditation for me! ;) While enjoying a simple life activity I'm able to consciously relax and focus only on the present moment to create, present and enjoy a beautiful meal with my family!
There are so many forms of Meditation to achieve the same goal ...that being a time for you to enjoy the present moment. While cooking, gardening, painting or even walking through an art museum, take time to focus in these moments. Become aware of the natural sounds that may be as simple as the sizzle of food being dropped into a hot pan or a paintbrush back and forth on a canvas.....become aware of this simplicity and enjoy your interpretation of conscious awareness. Experience your own feeling of being in the moment.
Wishing you Delicious thoughts today!
Above is one of my favorite snap shots I took while visiting the Cotswolds region in England. We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Bourton on the Water and took several trips to neighboring villages and this was snapped near Stow. This beautiful Countryside area would be my decision if thinking of a move to the UK. The charm and style of each village we visited was like stepping back in time to pages in a favorite picture book. This particular home captures both simple design and stately charm! From the stone of the home matching the colors of stone in the pebble walkways, to the single urn of colorful flowering geraniums and ivy, the manicured hedges around the urn to those of the two Topiary's at the sides of the front door.... a picture of simple elegance! For me my thoughts were imagining the interior and of course cooking in its lovely English kitchen.
What entices me about English style and its charm is they savor the tradition of years ago. Even when homes are not as large as the lovely one above their yards reflect the English garden theme. Maybe a single urn or two of greenery of perhaps just a patch of wild flowers. Crisp white curtains on clear glass(no screens) look so neat.
Their villages still have Mom and Pop stores that offer the distinct taste in both food and home goods their shoppers desire. From bakeries and sweet shops, to cheese and gourmet goodies, your palate will taste only the best! Then there are small interesting bookshops, toy stores, and fabulous home good stores with unique styles. My favorite was a kitchen store in Stow where I was amazed at how many toast racks there were to choose from. I loved having a toast rack on the breakfast table table each morning and silver rimmed individual butter dishes. The butter dishes are common here but seldom do I see a toast rack.
Aw yes that English flair! Simplicity with distinct preference as toast in a toast rack does not lay on each other and become soft and soggy but stays dry to be the perfect vessel for delicious butter. We did enjoy the full English breakfast of eggs, ham or sausages, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans and black pudding. Many shops offer fried bread with the breakfast as well. I was a little hesitant to taste the black pudding as it is made with not only pork fat or beef suet but also pork blood and added oatmeal and sometimes barley groats. I decided I would taste it and actually found it to be quite good. It will not make my top 5 recipes or even an attempt on my part to recreate but rather if in a good Pub in New York or England I'd have a taste with breakfast.
Below are some of the lovely shops I visited and tasted some fabulous cheese and sweets as well. I still enjoy envisioning being the shop keeper to one of these special stores! ;)
The English have a savvy way of creating tasteful, distinctive and simple style. Elegant is Elegant, Formal is Formal and Casual has a flair of its own! Traditions seem timeless and protocol still a very Royal Perspective. As they say in England "The Old Guard still reigns at Buckingham Palace." Perhaps I will follow suit here across the Pond in Florida and Oh yes.... I will be putting out my toast rack for breakfast tomorrow and serve myself with style and recall the beautiful Holiday spent in the Cotswolds.
As the New Year unfolds I'm excited like everyone else to try and trim away a few pounds.......alright a lot of pounds!!! ;)
Having returned from our New York Holidays and the lovely cold weather I'm excited to try out some new great soup recipes. My favorite soup this trip was Potato Leek soup that we had at Connolly's 121 West 45th Street between 6th and 7th if your in the NYC area. The Pub features both an upstairs and downstairs....we sat downstairs in a booth not far from the Bar. It was an overcast day Dec 30 and we had just finished a carriage ride through Central Park where we were so excited as when we were pulling back to get off we actually had some snow flurries. I thought at first it was rain but the Driver of the Carriage a spirited Irish man said no it was actually snow flurries. Seeing the white flakes flying through the air made me feel completely blissful! I know it sounds corny but I'm sincere when I say its not only checking a moment off a list as completed but rather getting truly caught up in the moment with that special feeling in your heart. The ride was so nice as our driver was so talkative. I loved his Irish accent and thought about it again later sitting in Connolly's. Yes this was going to be a truly Irish day as we were meeting my Daughter later downtown at Jim Brady's Irish Pub for Dinner.
Lunch would be light so we just ordered a bowl of soup and I a Bloody Mary and my Husband Rocco a Bourbon Manhattan.
The drinks came and we cheered to a wonderful visit we were having in New York. My Potato Leek soup arrived and it was absolutely delicious! Creamy with the taste of the leeks being perfect. I added a little hot sauce and swirled it around and loved the tangy flavor it created. To be so excited over a bowl of soup to some might seem odd, but for me it was so much more. From the quaint room where we were sitting with its rich dark furniture and cozy atmosphere to the Christmas lights twinkling, and people engaged in conversations and poof I was imagining being in a Pub in Ireland where I could ask the Bartender to pull me a pint! A moment becomes a memory when you feel it in your heart and I will always remember the taste of my Soup at Connolly's that cold December Day!
My favorite Irish Cookbook is pictured below.....Here is their recipe for Potato Leek Soup..........My special tweek to their recipe is to add a shake or two of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. It's a little jar of magic that combines onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley,basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary,cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel,tomato granules, lemon juice powder and oil of lemon. I use this flavorful blend in so many soups, salads and always that special boost in a Bloody Mary!
4 tablespoons lightly salted butter
1 onion chopped
2 Leeks sliced
2 potatoes cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup light cream optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the prepared vegetables and saute gently for 2-3 minutes, until soft but not brown. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend the soup in the saucepan using a handheld immersion blender if you have one. Alternatively pour into a blender or food processor, process until smooth, and return to the rinsed out saucepan.
Reheat the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper .Ladle into warm bowls and serve swirled with sour cream, if using and garnished with the chives. * I would omit the salt if using the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe's.
Enjoy and maybe find some Irish music on Pandora and create that Irish Pub atmosphere right at home.
Happy Happy New Year To All!!
Sending wishes from our Family to yours for health, happiness and a year of experiences that light up your heart! My husband Rocco and I spent the Christmas and New Years holidays in New York this year with my daughter Stephanie and son Stephen. We are so lucky to have Stephanie living in New York City (my favorite place) and hosting our Christmas festivities this year! Stephen flew in from Orlando and we truly had an amazing time visiting many relatives, friends both old and some new and the amazing backdrop of one of the most interesting cities in the World. From sharing old traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas day to new and exciting experiences ringing in the New Year in Central Park came a heartfelt feeling of being Blessed !
We began our Holiday on Dec 21st arriving in NYC Kennedy Airport at about midnight. The hustle and bustle of the City traffic was in full swing even at Midnight! You could actually feel like it was midday with the energy in the air....of course crisp and cold like I enjoy so I was thrilled! ;)
Our first day was spent Christmas shopping and then picking up some groceries as we had our first get together with some of my Daughters co-workers. Simple Rigatoni and meat Sauce, Salad and Garlic Bread with Mozerella Cheese and Roasted Peppers. Wine, Pasta, good conversations .... a great way to start the Holidays. Our son Stephen flew in the next day about 8pm and when he arrived we walked over to Grays Papaya and had a NY hotdog. A New York tradition and always open we laughed and munched thinking of all the gourmet and ethnic foods in New York and we're eating a hot dog at 9:30 but not just any hot dog rather enjoying a New York institution! Theres a sign outside the building that reads. "Let's be Frank...we want you to buy our Furters! " Ya gotta (LOL) love New York humor!!!
On Christmas Eve we headed for Penn station and took the New Jersey Transit to our niece and nephews house Peggy and Dominick and celebrated the Feast of the 7 Fishes. It was extra special this Year as my Husbands older Brother and his wife MaryLee were there as well. A wonderful evening sharing with our great Nephews Nicky and Dom Jr and his girlfriend Olga. Once again when you pair Delicious Food, Great Family with memories of Christmas Past and toast with a glass of wine your heart feels full! OK a beautiful Hallmark moment and now I have to share the casualty of the evening.......my Big toe! As my Daughter was sitting down on a bench by the table(to accommodate more people) it collapsed and the leg went through my shoe and smashed my toe so hard.....now picture this everyone is saying poor Stephanie who fell as well but they didnt realize the leg of the bench went through my foot. It was actually comical as I was screaming silently and then gave a big OMG get her off me soI was able to get some relief! I was so lucky as it didnt break the skin but bruised badly.....well anyway there was no time for theatrics as Peggy had just put a steaming bowl of Spaghetti and Clam sauce on the table and the pain was eased by an extra glass of wine that evening! ;) Along with the Spaghetti and Clam Sauce we enjoyed Stuffed Clams, Tuna Meatballs, Whiting, Smelts, Shrimp, Baccala Salad and Flounder.
At midnight we went to Mass at their Parish and that too was so nice. They had a tremendous choir and we sang all the traditional Christmas Carols. It felt so good with the cold weather outside and the organ playing O Holy Night and the Choir singing .... a very special evening indeed!
Christmas Day we exchanged presents and then sat down to a delicious Breakfast of Eggs Benedict. After breakfast, I made two breads for dinner. A Lemon onion Focaccia and a zuccini bread. I had practiced both recipes and they came out delish! Peggy made traditional Ham with Mashed Potatoes and Baked Beans and applesauce ,and I made fresh stringbeans with garlic and fresh tomato. It all went together well and we had such fun visiting. Peggy's brother Gerrard was there with his wife Dee and son Keith and daughter Kaitlin and boyfriend Eric. It was such a relaxing Day and it seemed like we were laughing most of the day. Once again sharing a table with Family, Friends, and good Food and you can count your Blessings. Thanks again Peggy and Dom for a very Merry Christmas!
Our two week holiday in New York left us with so many memories to hold in our hearts. New Years Eve was magical watching the fireworks in Central Park. Where we were standing by the croquet court near 69th street you could see Times Square through a space between two buildings. We could make out the 2016 lights but at 12:00 our eyes were on the fabulous fireworks and I was blowing my horn like crazy. Its funny at Times Square you're in corrals while in Central Park everyone is just walking in masses and it was so much fun and all the people so happy and courteous to each other. We met the same type of crowds at the Rockefeller Tree but again a very nice woman offered to take our family picture and in true NY form took about 6 till we all agreed. I love when the person taking the picture likes to make sure they did a good job. So funny...........but truly memorable New York moments!
Christmas is my favorite Holiday of the year! A time to Celebrate with Family and Friends and enjoy the magic in the eyes of children. A time to remember and reflect upon traditions we share even if some are now Low fat! ;) From sharing a kitchen years ago with my Grandmothers, Mother and now my Daughter and Son our culinary delights keep growing each year!
From the Christmas Eve feast of the seven fishes, to the Ham or Turkey and yes one Christmas Day Roast Duck (thanks to my son Stephen).. then a week long sharing of cookies and visits with neighbors to culminating with a New Years Eve toast of Champagne and Herring! Yes before you all stop reading the Herring is for good luck and judging by my beautiful family it was worth it! As I child my Parents had it each New Years either in Wine sauce or in Cream sauce. I tasted it when I was young and liked it. If you taste things early in life you will be more apt to have a larger palate as you get older.
Actually there are very few things I don't like although my #1 dislike is Caviar!!! I will never forget one Christmas party I was at and had a lovely drink in one hand and picked up a puff pastry with the other and to my surprise it was stuffed with Caviar. OMG horror on my face followed by swallowing quickly and gulping my Bloody Mary to block out that horrible flavor. Of course it was very good Russian Beluga caviar but the only thing Russian I like is Stolichnaya Vodka. Either a Bloody Mary or Dirty Martini or my diet drink of Stoli and Seltzer with Lemon or Lime. I am not as strict as the Queen who prefers her Lemon under the ice... Ha Ha...mine can float on top!
I have tried a few new ideas for this years Christmas festivities and will share them with you. I have also added Christmas pictures at the top under Christmas 2016 on the right of the home page. I will keep updating with food shots and visitors there. Below is a Focaccia with Lemon, Onion and Rosemary and a Clam Pie I made last week. They were both very tasty and will make them again for Christmas Eve. You can tell my pictures aren't photo shopped by the sauce smudge on the clam pie....truly authentic!! ;)
2 1/2 to 3 Cups Flour
1 cup warm water and 1 pkg yeast
After yeast proofs add to flour mixing with 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil and 1 teaspoon Salt. Mix in a mixer or knead dough and then form a ball and put in a bowl with a little oil on the sides of the bowl so the dough doesn't stick. Let Dough rise till doubled in size. (about an hour) Roll out and then dimple with your finger tips with a little olive oil and then let sit for 15 minuites and then top and cook. For the Onion and Lemon above saute onions adding salt, pepper and a little fresh garlic or garlic powder. Let cool before putting on Focaccia. Then when ready to cook spread out onions on top and slice lemons thin and cut fresh rosemary and Parsley and sprinkle on top! Bake at 450 for about 35 minutes and check that the bottom is light brown. Brush the border of the Focaccia with oil and stick with a fork all around so it cooks evenly.
For the Clam pie....the dough is the same as above and the filling is Canned clams, Parsley Garlic, Sweet Onion, Red Pepper and Salt. I used one can of tomato paste and the juice from the clams to thin it out. I find the tomato paste supports the clams on the top of the Focaccia and has great flavor. Again Saute garlic and sweet onion (I like Vidalia) in a little olive oil, add tomato paste, clams and their juice, red pepper, salt and cook 5 to 10 minutes to blend flavors together. If its too thick use more clam juice or add a little water. Cool before putting on dough. When cooled spread out on dough and add Parsley. Cook at 450 for about 35 minutes or cooked through and bottom of Pie is light brown. You could also put Anchovies on the top for the last 10 minutes of cooking. I like anchovies but serve them on the side as well as long hot finger peppers that have been sauteed in olive oil. Yum!!
By now you all know that I absolutely love NYC and the wonderful people that make up the masses and specifically the adoration they have for their Dogs. It is certainly apparent with the number of stores that sell Precious Pet items as well as groomers and yes caterers and event planners for pawfect birthday parties as well. Added to the list are therapists and Dog Whisperers all over the City! I had an idea I shared with Stephanie before writing this post, that I would become a Paw reader for the many pooches that wish to know their past or look into their future! :) In an earlier post I shared the time I was visiting Stephanie and heard someone talking outside with the sweetest voice saying the great day they were having and they were on their way to get a treat and have a play date..... and when I looked out the window to see the little child realized they were talking to an adorable puppy. They were happy, the dog was happy..... and for that matter I was grinning from ear to ear! A simple loving exchange, that I overheard and we were all thrilled! A great start to a wonderful day in NYC! Check out the styles and some of my favorite city dog moments.
Well the Fall is officially here and we're even starting to feel a slight chill in the morning and evening air here in Florida. I recently returned from my annual Fall visit up North where I spent two fabulous weeks visiting my Daughter Stephanie. I love the creative way that NYC people take the smallest spaces and make them come alive as they plant their Mums and Marigolds and decorative Cabbage knowing that winter will be here soon, but enjoying that great season of Fall first. Autumn in New York is truly picture perfect. With the burst of colors, the chill of the air, smelling the first seasonal chestnuts and ordering that first cup of Hot Chocolate......oh yes....... it doesn't get any better for me. I hope I have'nt lost anybody yet with my penchant for being lost in la la land! :) I get excited to wear a sweater in Florida so when you see me in my Coat in NYC it's a big deal.....OK ....LOL!!!
I have many more pictures and stories to share of my Fall visit so stay tuned!
I’m so excited to be back in New York for my Fall visit! There is nothing like Autumn in New York for me as I like to walk through the many Parks and see the vignettes of trees in different stages of color. With a chill in the air I start to think of the nights that I miss so much with the smell of Chestnuts at so many vendor stands. Yes, food always plays a big part in all my reasons for wanting to move back up North! ;) It's always about the food and the seasons in which they coincide. I was thinking last night perhaps an apple cinnamon Martini would be great for the Fall! ;) It is still a little early in the month, but I did catch a few trees changing color in Riverside Park on Saturday as I was on my way to Pier i café. The picture above is one of them!
Actually the exciting part of my story today is that I was on my way to meet my “new” Cousin Debbie! She and her Husband Mark had been on Ancestry.com and connected on our Family tree. It’s really a small world as they say as our Great Grandfathers were Brothers. At any rate she contacted another cousin Louann who I’ve known from my childhood and Louann suggested Debbie contact me as well. She did, and through our emails we decided to meet up when I came to New York this trip. I arrived on Friday night and this past Saturday we met and spent a lovely afternoon and evening sharing Family stories and getting to know each other. She lives in New Jersey and like me has a Daughter that lives in Manhattan. When we met I was taken by her resemblance to my Dad and his family. I found myself studying her mannerisms to see if not only looks pass on but also personalities traits. She did remind me of my Dad once again as she is very organized! Although I am my Fathers Daughter that is one gene I didn’t get! ;) It was a beautiful afternoon by the Hudson and as we talked about our families, I was thinking of our ancestors and how happy they must be as well! Below are a few pictures of us. We're now looking forward to having more of our extended family members meet and share in our journey of a new generation !
Above shows the beautiful town of Amatrice before and after the Earthquake that hit on August 24th. At this time of year when we begin to enjoy the Fall Season and then the Holidays approaching, my thoughts are of the people of Amatrice, Italy. I am praying today for the people of Amatrice and all the other Towns devasted by this powerful Earthquake.
Amatrice is about an hour away from Rome by car. When we were in Italy two years ago we had decided to take the train from Rome to Naples and then the Water Taxi to Sorrento. We thought on our next visit we would drive from Rome and visit Amatrice then. I wanted to visit this town not only to taste their famous Pasta, but to have the chance to meet the locals and learn the legend of this tasty dish! Like many regions throughout Italy,Villages celebrate with Festivals that center around a particular recipe.
Amatrice would have celebrated its 50th Anniversay of Spaghetti all"Amatriciana this year on the weekend of August 28th! The devastation by this Earthquake and its 6.2 magnitude will forever be remembered. A town almost completely destroyed in the middle of the night. I'm hoping if we all remember and keep them in our prayers, the survivors will be blessed with the strength to rebuild and once again celebrate and honor the people lost.
The first time I tasted Spaghetti all"Amatriciana was in New York City in the early 80"s. My husband Rocco and I were going to see a show in the Theatre district and stopped for an early dinner in a little Trattoria on Eighth Ave. The funny thing is as Im writing this Post I don't recall the show we saw that night but will forever remember this particular Pasta Dish! ;) It was a small restaurant very nicely decorated using copper pots alongside of colorful dishes on the walls. The wait staff was so friendly greeting and thanking us in Italian which always adds a special touch to the moment. At any rate we were enjoying a glass of wine when the pasta was served and as the waiter put it in front of me I was so surprised to see it being presented in a black iron frying pan. My husband and I both had ordered it and we each had our own frying pan. It really was a unique presentation and clevor as well. They also put down a white dish and the waiter spooned some onto the plate and the rest kept warm in the pan that retains the heat. Between the presentation and the fabulous flavor it has been one of our favorite dishes for years. I use pancetta as its harder to find Guanciale (pork jowl or cheek) unless I'm in New York. Sometimes I make it with Fresh tomatoes and it's equally delicious. The secret is not to have the pasta swimming in sauce rather clinging with the olive oil being the adhesive that brings it all together. You always cook the pasta al dente and it will not soften in the frying pan while its being served.
Once again a simple meal and moment I will never forget with the surprise of a frying pan! Now remember I'm a foodie maybe some people would think serving in a frying pan is less than acceptable ...! :)
With that said I'm hopeful that after reading this you will keep the folks all over Italy in your Prayers for them to rebuild and restore their towns. Our hearts are especially rooting for the people of Amatrice hit so hard that they can come back for generations to come and savor the tradition of Spaghetti all'Amatriciana.
Recipe for Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
4 to 8 oz chopped pancetta or guaniciale, onions, garlic (opitional),red pepper,crushed tomatoes, Pecorino Romano cheese, Bucatini or Spaghetti or even Linguine. I keep my pancetta in the freezer as it easier to chop or slice. Adding red or white wine with the tomatoes is great too, just remember you need at least 25 minutes for the wine to cook out and blend with the tomatoes. Actually when I use fresh tomatoes I use about 4 oz red wine as it deepens the color of the sauce and creates a great balance with the olive and onions to coat your pasta.
Put a little olive oil in a frying pan just to coat and add Pancetta or Guanciale and then cook over low heat till lightly browned. If you have rendered too much fat remove some and save a few tablespoons of pancetta for garnish. Next add onions and garlic (optional) the red pepper and cook till transluecent. Add Crushed tomatoes and cook about 35-45 minutes stirring occasionally on a low flame. Cook your Pasta al dente and toss in pan with sauce. Serve with pecorino cheese and top with reserved pancetta . Add extra red pepper or cheese as desired.
I love all Seasons.........yet I think Fall is the prettiest! Although it has been the hottest summer I can remember since moving to Florida, I'm ready with Ghosts, Witches and Pumpkins to create the festive attitude only Fall brings. With "Any" (Im desperate) chill to the air Im pleased and immediately think soup on the stove and mulled cider in the late afternoons. I love the days as they get shorter as in the dark it looks cooler! ;) I put around lots of fresh smelling apple and mulled cider candles drape garlands of leaves and pretend I hear the whistling wind blowing them off the trees. Ok so I once again assessed the situation in Florida and booked my annual Fall trip and Carol's Halloween Party and fly out Oct 14th. I will roam Central Park and take in the color of the trees and listen to the Musicians playing (reminding me of the street players in Italy), sip cider and hopefully breath in some cool crisp air. I am so so fortunate to have Stephanie (myDaughter) living in the City who takes me in!
One of my favorite things about the City is the many Cultures of Food it offers. Instead of eating an entire meal in one restaurant , many times we enjoy grazing along the way with appetizers from different neighborhoods. Walking from the East Village over to China Town and Little Italy is one route we have enjoyed. From Indian cuisine to Ukrainian to China Town for my favorite Soup Dumplings, to approaching Little Italy where we stop at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery where we split our favorite pork sandwich. Keep in mind we are spliting one item so we're not really overeating;) or at least thats what I convince myself of! A cannoli and espresso at our favorite Pastry shop Cafe Pallermo and a visit with Ernie at E. Rossi and Company gift shop on Grand Street and then we're off walking briskly to the subway to burn some of those calories.
Another pastime I enjoy is shopping the Farmers markets and buying those special finds like Korean Sweet potatoes and fresh greens and crisp apples. I love filling my green market bag and talking with all the vendors. They are always eager to discuss ways to enjoy their produce for which they are so proud of. Artisans of food are the best! For me the access of public transportation rather than driving and parking etc are so inviting with urban living. I know there are drawbacks but for me it is what I truly enjoy. Window shopping, people watching and then back to the apartment to create a tasty meal. A simple day on a visit to see Stephanie but so many wonderful memories have been made with our City excursions.!
For most of us September 11th was a day that changed the way we think. The attack on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and Flight 93 gave us a responsibility that we must never forget. We are a strong Nation and although we may have different 0pinions, we stand united to preserve the Great Nation we are. One that Accepts all, Respects all and Protects all!
Our hearts ache for those beautiful souls that were lost that day. Each one special and part of a mosaic that represents the values and ideals of proud Americans. We will never forget and continue to celebrate those lost in Memorials and will for Generations to come as a symbol of our strength.
Though our hands are not joined with those lost our hearts can not be parted. It is this spirit that will forever reign.
God Bless America!
Two years ago today my husband Rocco and I went on our European Holiday. It was simply the best time and looking over some of the files on my computer I found this small clip of the marching band at the Palace. I can still remember the day and the beautiful weather. We went on the tour of the Palace and the grounds, which were magnificent!
We plan to return next year and exploring the Cornwall region. I have traced my ancestors there and hope to see if there are any cousins I could contact. I've recently started emailing another "new relative" via ancestry.com and hope to meet her as well in London.
Below I added a clip of street dancing in Rome. We were at a great little restaurant and enjoyed watching these ladies dance. They were having such a good time and it added to the festive mood we were all sharing. We had been inside where they had a karaoke player and that was equally alot of fun. I just remember it was incredibly hot that evening and I thought it was so cute how the ladies were using their fans. The owner then joined in.....he was the gentleman in the suit with the glasses. Another memorable moment and this time a little sound to enjoy as well. I plan on improving my movie skills though before the next trip.
From street to street there were performers of all kinds. I see this in Manhattan but very rarely where I live in Florida. I truly enjoy the freedom of expression and the fun impromptu attitude ofthese happy people.
It's hard for me to believe my last post was August 5th and today is September 5th and we're celebratingLabor Day. The last few weeks have flown by with a very busy schedule! Starting off with a trip to New York, attending the New York Now Trade Show, lots of shopping and meeting new people with whom memories were made. The highlight of my trips to New York are always about the great people who usually are chance meetings and then a conversation turns into an exchange of emails or phone numbers and then a chance to continue as a new friendship.
The trade show was exceptional this year with approximately 2800 vendors that had everything from Home Decor to Clothing, Childrens Wear, Toys, Books, Furniture, Rugs, Kitchen items, Greeting Cards etc......everything is represented from all parts of the World.
There is a Handmade section and then the gifts and import side. The picture above is Me with my Daughter Stephanie and two of the employees of the NY Now Team! Below are some shots taken as I walked around the show.
I especially enjoy the Handmade side, as the exceptional talent of so many people are displayed. It was nice to catch up with a few people I met last year and see their new line. One such vendor is Jennifer Collier from England and her handmade Paper items. Another great Lady I met this year with a unique whimsical collection was Elaine of At-Choo. Below is Jennifers booth and a fun picture taken with Elaine.
, The last day of the show I purchased some items from a few vendors. One nice man actually gave me a rolling cart to make it easier for traveling when I left the show. It was late in the day so I accepted graciously and set out to meet my Daughter after work. Off I went on the M20 Bus headed downtown. As I got on the bus another nice gentleman jumped up to give me a seat. I accepted with a few words of Thanks and then sat down to relax. I looked over and saw a women and her Son and another two children behind them I could tell they were traveling together and once again struck up a conversation. They were a lovely family from Ireland, now living in England. As usual when I get to talking I forget everything else and sure enough my rolling cart took off when the bus came to an abrupt stop . The lovely man who I now knew was Ray jumped up and got it as it rolled down then aisle. I was laughing so hard with Fiona his wife and truly enjoying this chance meeting. It turned out we were traveling to the same stop and we all got off together, with Ray helping once agin with the cart. By this time I had been introduced to their lovely children Hannah, Erin and Sam. We walked together to the 911 Memorial and I was able to take pictures of them together as a family and even one with me. My Daughter Stephanie met me there and also was able to meet this lovely family. We exchanged emails and I promised to send them some pictures. They were continuing their Holiday in Washington DC before returning to England. We took a goup picture by the Survivor tree with a Police officer who had put his hat on my head for fun. We left after hugging Good-bye and once again a heartfelt memory was made.
This trip truly provided the opportunity for me to add to my best collection.........new Friends!!!
Before I met my husband Rocco, August 5th for me was usually just a hot Long Island summer day. Little did I know then that it would become a special day each year marked with a celebratory Mass in honor of "La Madonna della Neve" followed by a Parade around his Brooklyn neighborhood. The feast day was referred to as Our Lady of Snow. The Society located on Graham Ave in Greenpoint was founded in 1888 by immigrants from Sanza Italy to provide financial and psychological support to Italian immigrants in need.
The legend dates back to August 5th, 352. It was believed there was a nobleman and his childless wife that had been blessed with many of the world's goods. They chose the Mother of God as heir to their fortune and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius prayed that she would make known to them how to do this with some sign. On August 5th she appeared to both John and his wife and the Pope and asked that they build a church in her honor on the crown of Esquiline Hill. The sign that John and his wife had asked for, "Snow will cover the crest of the hill." Then during the night the snow fell and the rest is history... a church was built by John and his wife and named Basilica of Liberius but has since been known by Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore having been restored over the years. Back then it was also believed that the bells chimed louder and clearer than those of Paregine, in the town of Sanza in the southern Italian province of Salerno. The decision was Sanza be awarded the sacred statute of Our Lady of Snow.
My mother-in-law Rachel's family had immigrated from Sanza and thus came the tradition to be passed on. Although we no longer live up North and have lost many of those who we celebrated with us, my husband Rocco and I still mark this day with beautiful memories and renewed belief in miracles that can happen with the power of prayer.
Our celebrations started with the Mass at St Francis in Greenpoint and then we joined the parade where thay marched and pinned money on the Saint. It was so community minded with lots of pride and charity. Then people all around the neighborhood would visit and bring some food to share and certainly stories of the old days and yes later on the singing began. I have to share a really funny memory of many years ago....my husband and I used our car to pull the Statue in the parade and after the parade they parked the float in my Father-in-laws garage. The Statue had been dropped off at the Socity Hall on Graham avenue earlier. The day was exceptionally warm and the ice cold beer on tap sure quenched your thirst. Well anyway later on in the evening we noticed my brother-in-law Sonny was missing and we went looking for him. At first we could'nt find him but then someone checked the garage and to our surprise there was Sonny sitting on the float where the Statue had been, waving and singing! We still laugh and tease him to this day of that evening. He truly captured the moment forever in our minds of August 5th celebrations.
To all who are celebrating August 5th today for Our Lady of the Snow we wish you a beautiful Blessed day!
Above is the Lighthouse at Montauk Point on Long Island. I remember many happy visits to Montauk as well as the Hamptons, Greenport, Port Jefferson and so many other Long Island towns. They are all so pretty with quaint shops, restaurants and beautiful shore lines. The Harbors are like so many pictures you see with docked boats, some with colorful sails and yes those beautiful Sunsets on the glistening water. I have been fortunate to live in both the Northeast on LongIsland and now in Southeast Florida. The main difference is we only have two seasons in Florida Hot and Hotter!!! Ok I'm not always complaining but I do miss the change of Seasons most of all. My Daughter Stephanie lives in New York City and we visit often.... so we are fortunate to enjoy a taste of all the seasons. I have shared with you many New York Winter and Fall memories and now comes the lazy, day memories of the Long Island Summers where I grew up.
Although Summer officially begins on June 21, for Long Islanders it always started with the Memorial Day Parades. I grew up in East Williston where my Dad was a volunteer Fireman. Every year he would march in the Parade. I always remember watching and waving as he passed by in his dress uniform with all the other Volunteers. I was so proud! After the Parade we would go to the Village Green for a Ceremony to thank the Veterans and then off we went to our backyard barbeques. It just seems so special up North as the summer is but a few short weeks. It was also when all your white clothes were in full fashion as the protocol was white was in from Memorial Day to Labor Day and then back in the closet till the next year. These little rituals, as well as getting out the redwood picnic tables and big chaise Lounges on wheels with comfy cushions were true summer traditions!
Many weekends we would head out to Jones Beach for the day. Sometimes we packed a picnic and swam in the beach and other times we went swimming in the two big pools that were there. We loved walking along the boardwalk stopping to taste some of the tasty foods the vendors had piled high. From hot dogs and hambugers, fries, corn, clams on the half shell etc to ice cream and cotton candy. Everything tasted better at the beach as you felt the breeze of the water as you walked along the boardwalk. They also had archery, roller skating and an amphitheater that had great shows. A really great place and one that held many happy childhood memories for me. Here are some pictures I was able to find on line.
Yes. yes so many nice memories but what would a post to Britalia Way be without mentioning food! Long Island summers brought some of the best tomatoes and vegetables I ever tasted. The tomatoes grew in rich soil inlike Florida sandy soil that yes does affect the flavor. They were the deepest red and so juicy with a deliciou balance of both a sweet and tart flavor....absolutely the best. Long island corn, string beans,peppers were also fabulous. With all the farms, the vegetables stayed on the plants till ripe which is the key to flavor. Each night we would have sliced tomatoes with a little salt and just enjoy them plain to really savor the taste. There was no talk of organic then just incredibly good flavor! The only comparrison maybe was New Jersey who thought they had the best tomatoes but oh well we know the truth! ;) The one thing I did enjoy when traveling thru New Jersey and stopping at a farm stand was the white Gentlemens corn. It was always said the white corn was fed to the animals, but I actually thought it was better than yellow. The kernels were smaller and much sweeter. Of course now people like a mix of yellow and white as well.
Another Long Island treat for me was on trips out East we would stop and get Sorrell. A green not as common today but back then a part of spring and summer harvest. It is common in France and Europe as well as California. It is a hearty plant that can survive the odds ...perhaps I should try and grow it! Bright long firm green leaves, this herb had a bite which I might compare to arugula that is a staple in my salads each day. Sorrel is tasty in salads, soups, steamed or sauted. It will turn olive green when heated without changing the taste but if bright green is your color palette of choice use in salads or as a drink perhaps in green smoothies the rage of today. I will have to figure out perhaps wrapping my olives in sorrel for a twist for a dirty martini!!! I will be visiting Long Island in two weeks and you can be sure I will be tasting and cooking with the great produce they have to offer. Can you imagine the best tomato on the best lightly toasted bagel with a sorrel leaf and perhaps a schmear of scallion cream cheese..............a meal like no other......I can hardly wait!!! ;)
After many years of being tucked away in a closet, I decided to bring out my Sassy Rooster once again to look at each day and feel inspired. As with all my posts I like to share stories of special people, special times, usually with lots of food and ways I enjoy creating.
My Sassy Rooster pictured above takes center stage today. He was created by my wonderful Mom many years ago. My Mom was truly a talented artist. She always would say whether painting or sewing or even cooking, do it with your vision and taste. Observe others but try your own hand and most of all enjoy it. I can still remember growing up and experiencing the enthusiasm she put in to everything she did. She never competed to be the spotlight, rather feeling such happiness from her creations being enjoyed by others.
She began this masterpiece by using a left over piece of paneling for the background to glue the raw beans on. She then made a pattern out of oak tag and cut it out. Next she sorted the Beans and applied glue to the panel and carefully set the beans into the design. Voli`a...another one of a kind to add to her legacy items created on our kitchen table in Huntington, New York !
A simple project that over the years still brings so much meaning to her words of encouragement to me........ use your own vision to create and truly enjoy the time spent to capture the feeling and the memory of that special moment.
Although unable to hold your hand....you are in my heart forever and inspire me each day. xoxo
My Queen.......My Mom
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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