Sunday Pasta Dinner: Carbonara

Aside from design and papergoods, my other passion is cooking. More specifically — cooking pasta! I've taken it upon my self to learn how to make all of the dishes that Lupa and Pepi made when I was growing up. The latest dish that I've been perfecting is carbonara. As my husband says "fat equals flavor" and boy oh boy does this dish deliver!

I've been working with is Mario Batali's Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe and there are a few things that I've learned thus far. First of all — since there are only a few ingredients, it's imperative that each is high quality. This is what will bring the dish to the next level. Also, timing is everything with carbonara so have all of the ingredients grated, chopped and ready to go! 

INGREDIENTS clockwise from top left
– Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano: Grab a chunk of Parmigiano, a grater and get grating! While it's not as easy as opening a package and dumping it in the bowl, it will be so worth it!

– Pancetta: Skip the pre-packaged, already chopped up pancetta and hit up the deli counter. Ask the butcher to cut it as thick as possible. 

– Pasta: I usually would use something twirlable (e.g. bucatini) but in this instance, I'm using this bag of spaccatelli from Sfoglini. My husband recently surprised me with their pasta of the month (he knows the way to my heart!). Their pasta is fresh, super tasty and two bags arrive every month — perfetto!

– Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Key here is "fresh" — whether you have a spice grinder or a pepper mill, make sure that pepper is freshly ground!

– Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: I know I've been touting "quality, quality" but here is one ingredient in this recipe that doesn't need to be the best. Since it's getting heated up in the pan, it can be average joe olive oil. If you end up using any as a finishing, make that the good stuff!

– Eggs: This ingredient is the finishing touch on carbonara so if you're game, spring for the organic crazy expensive eggs and enjoy how delectable they make this dish!

One thing that feels missing to me in this recipe is garlic! My family usually adds it to the pan by the handful! Thus far I have not missed it because this recipe is so damn flavorful. That being said, don't be surprised if a couple Sundays from now garlic finds its way into my carbonara! Buon appetito!

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At Long Last...

Lupa & Pepi wedding in The Knot Magazine Summer 2014
After months of biting my lip and resisting the urge to Instagram, blog, post and tweet, I'm beyond excited and so incredibly thrilled to announce that my wedding has been published in The Knot magazine!!! If you can't wait to get to the newsstand, there are a few photos from our nuptials on The Knot's website too! Phew — so glad to get that out!!!

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Frittata Cuffone

Frittata Cuffone Recipe MamamiaRitaThere are two things you should know about me:
1. I cook too much food.
2. I hate to throw food away.

Hence the name “Frittata Cuffone”. A frittata is an omelette made with leftover food.  And a “cuffone” is somebody that is not very special. Once a week I will go to the fridge and take out every leftover that I planned to eat later but never did. Veggies, cheese, ham or fish, potatoes, whatever. You can even throw in the frozen veggies you kept on hand in case a snow storm hits (not applicable to those of you reading in LA).

Here’s how to make a Frittata Cuffone:

Sauté garlic and onions in oil.

Add leftovers.

Add a 16 ounce carton of Egg Beaters*, 3-4 fresh eggs and beat together with a little milk.
*I use Egg Beaters in an effort to watch cholesterol—something my ancestors never did and most lived into their 90′s, go figure!

Add your favorite seasonings fresh or dry then cook until liquid sets.

My Zia Antonietta (Lupa) made a perfect frittata pie every time. It was cut & served in wedges. She used an iron skillet that was so heavy she could hardly pick it up. It was seasoned from so much use that the frittata “came good” every time. I always start out with her in mind but rarely is my frittata perfect. It usually breaks up & becomes a mere omelette. So what, it still tastes good!

Always remember that presentation is important. Transfer the frittata into your serving dish then shake on paprika, chili powder, parsley, etc. Make a point to decorate the plate, this touch makes it look very professional.

Last but not least, add fresh cracked pepper over it all.


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It’s a Tough Job

Cake Tasting WeddingSometimes being a bride means you have to make sacrifices — waking up at the crack of dawn to workout, driving all over town for vendor meetings, having a “to do” list that is pages long. It can be a tough job. And then… there are the tastings! My fiancé and I have enjoyed our tastings so much that we’re considering keeping our “newly engaged” moniker after we’re married just so we can continue trying out all of these wonderful caterers, bartenders and bakers! But, alas, our wallet, our wastelines and our moral compass will forbid us from doing so. I will, however, savor every last bit of the tastings we do have scheduled! This past weekend we enjoyed — er, I mean we ”endured for the well being of all our guests” a cake tasting. Witness the aftermath (pictured above). All I have to say to my trainer is: “I’ll do a few more minutes of planking to make up for this indulgence… and for the box of macarons that I took home!”

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Buona Pasqua a Tutti!

Easter Vase Flower Chocolate Porcelain#1. This dish belonged to my Great Aunt Daisy (aka Lupa). It is a numbered piece from Italy. The chocolate eggs were handmade by another friend, Claudia. There are at least 5 flavors. Each one is better than the next but my favorite is peanut butter followed closely by coconut.

#2. My favorite vase with an Easter arrangement.

#3. Two porcelain eggs that were crafted by my friend’s mother, Ida. She was an art teacher many years ago. She continued to paint, sculpt & garden into old age. They look good enough to eat, don’t they?

Buona Pasqua!

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