25 December 2009

Buon Natale

Buon Natale, Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah
From our house to yours

24 December 2009

Last minute chance to pick up what's hot and cold on Menu for Hope 6

There's still time to peruse the Menu for Hope 6 offerings and maybe pick up some great treats. Chez Pim has taken the compiled list of Foodie related  bid items and the current standings of the bids to give you an idea of where the bidding is headed. so the items that aren't so hotly persued might be just the thing you didn't think you had a chance for, but now you know that your  odds are higher. So don't delay and Donate to win some of the fabulous treasures offered up to support the UN Food Programme and the Purchase for Purpose Project that supports local low income growers provide the needed food for the UN Food Programme.

This is our view from  our balcony currently and part of your experience if you win our
Some other random offerings
That barely scratches the surface, so have a look and make a donation and a few bids.

20 December 2009

Crumiri Cookies, Not for Wimps

Why, you ask are these cookies not for wimps? Because they will build up your muscle trying to squeeze them through the open star tip on your pastry bag and maybe even have you saying a choice explicative or two as well. Yet, they really are a buttery corn meal "stick" and a delicious cappuccino dunker that hails from the Casale Monferrato region of Piedmont and worth the muscle building.
Domenico Rossi invented them around 1870 and named them after a popular drink at that time called Khrumiro. According to the Krumiri Rossi web site, when the king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II died the biscotti's characteristic bend of the coookie was most likely introduced as a tribute to the king and his famous handlebar moustache. Later they patented the name and cookie. Perhaps the patent is why they are generally referred to as Crumiri by the rest of us. Anyway, what ever the name, they are quite tasty and worth adding to your cookie basket.  You will find them all over Turin in many of the pastry shops and they make their way on to the long line of biscotti on the grocery shelves as well. Making them is a great option if you don't have them readily available to you. I took the liberty to have my way with them and turned them into a small candy cane type shape for getting into the holiday spirit and you can to, but normally they are long sticks and bent mid way for an authentic shape. They are cooked until quite golden brown. I went a tad lighter as I love the contrast of the two colors, but going a bit further when you bake them yourself is quite acceptable and encouraged. Do give them a try and do enjoy them at other times of the year than the holidays as they are really worth the effort.
Crumiri Biscotti
Yeilds about 4 dozen small or less larger ones


280 g butter, room temperature ( 1 1/4 cup)
160 g sugar, caster or granulated (3/4 cup)
4 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
280 g corn meal(1 1/2 cup)
200 g pastry or all purpose flour (2 cup)


Cream the butter and sugar together, with a whisk by hand  or with a paddle on a stand mixer.
Add the 4 egg yolks and blend well.
Mix in the vanilla.
Mix the corn and pastry flour together, blnding well.
Add the mixed flours in to the butter mixture, just to fully incorporate.

Fit a medium/large open star pastry tip into a pastry bag.
Take half of your mixture and place it into your bag.
Pipe out on to a papered sheet tray or greased and floured tray.
Repeat with the other half of the batch.
The dough will be firm so take your time and squeeze it out
with steady pressure.

For traditional shape
Pipe out long 4 inch lengths
Bend the cookies in the middle to look like a <
Or pipe in the shape of a 9 or a cane.

Bake in a moderate oven 325* for about 12-14 minutes.
Cool completely before storing.

2013 January update.
Here's another version I found that purports to be close to the secret original recipe.  I need to finish the ones languishing in my Krumiri tin before trying this one out. 

Secret Original Krumiri knock off recipe (allegedly)
butter 210 g 
sugar 120 g 
3 egg yolks
white flour 150 g corn flour 210 g
Mix the flour corn, flour, butter, sugar, egg yolks, a pinch of salt and vanilla. 
Let stand before piping out.

18 December 2009

Sardines Piemontese Style for Seven Fishes Feast

 This time of year there is always so much going on, but we're all always wondering what to make for those special occaions. Joe over at Italyville is hosting his 2nd annual Seven Fishes Feast event. Joe's family hails from Calabria, down in the southern part of Italy where this traditional Christmas Eve feast originated and he always has some great recipes on his blog. He'll be rounding up a variety of dishes to share with everyone to try for your own holiday feast. Be sure and stop by for the roundup which should be tomorrow the 19th at Italyville.
Up here in land locked Piedmont, the 7 fishes tradition is not really celebrated by native Piemontese, but it isn't to say that fish isn't a focus now or other times of the year, as most all Italians love fish. The Piemontese particularly love their anchovies, which find their way into their traditional bagna cauda and just about any other  winter vegetable you might imagine. Last year I shared a simple traditional anchovy antipasto, whose recipe you'll find here. This year it's another antipasto, but featuring fresh sardines.  If your only experience with sardines is thones in the can, I do reccomend trying them fresh. I can still remember the first tie I had them grilled at a tiny cafe at the end of the Algarve in Portugal and they were such a revelation. This simple dish has a few variations but I like the simplicity and mildness of this one. This recipe does need to sit a couple of days to absorb the flavors. There's still time to get these made before you plan to serve them. These lightly pickled fish will get the juices flowing for the rest  of the feast that is to come without overpowering or sitting too heavy.

Sardines Piemontese Style
 Serves 6

1/2# (250g) fresh sardines, cleaned and gutted
flour to dredge the fish in
Olive oil to pan fry

1 cup white wine
1/2 c white wine vinegar
1/4- 1/2 red onion sliced

After you have your cleaned sardines, make sure to pat dry if you havejust washed them.
Dredge the fish in some white plain flour and set aside. I shook them up in a bag with flour last time and found that to be too much flour, so go easy on the flour. A quick pass throught the plate with the four on both sides of the fish is plenty.  Sprinkle a bit of salt over all the fish.
 Heat your skillet up and add a small to medium amount of oil. You don't want them to stick nor to you want them supper oily.
Once hot, add your fish and allow to lightly brown on both sides.
emove from pan and allow to cool to room temerature.

In a small sauce pan combine the wine, vinegar and onion.
Bring to a boil and gently simmer for a few minutes till the onion is sft, but still has some body to it.
Remove from hear. Add a  genrous pinch of salt and pepper. Let col to room temperture before pouring over your single layer of fish tht is at room temperature as well.  I like to use a shallow tupperware type container
Cover in an airtight container and refrigerate 2 days. You might want to scoop up the liquid from one corner of the pan and drizzle it over the fish once or twice while they are rsting in the refridgerator
Serve 2-3 per person at room temperature, with or with out garnish.
At home it is usually served, as is.

15 December 2009

Menu for Hope 6-Donate and You might win a stay at Bella Baita

Menu for Hope 6 is off and running!
December 14-25, 2009
If you aren't familiar with this fund raising campaign you might want to read more about its origins at Chez Pim's blog here and all about how to participate here. 
In a nut shell, Pim reached out to her fellow food bloggers and their audiences in response to the devastating tsunami that hit southeast Asia 5 years ago and this effort has evolved into supporting the UN World Food Programme. This years focus is one close to my heart for a variety of reasons, as the proceeds will be going to a " new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress (P4P).  P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation.  P4P helps farmers improve farming practices and puts more cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops.  This will also help buoy local economy by creating jobs and income locally.... More on P4P at http://www.wfp.org/purchase-progress."

Now, I'm reaching out to you to ask you to join in this challenge to raise money while donating money for raffle tickets for a chance to bid and possible win a wide variety of fabulous offerings donated from many food related bloggers and such from around the world. You donate $10 per entry, you'll have a chance to win fabulous bid items from all over the world. You can make as many donations as you wish; the more you enter, the more chances you'll have of winning.
This is where I have the pleasure of telling you that Fabrizio and I are donating a 2 night stay with us at Bella Baita, (Bid item code: EU35) our mountain retreat in the Italian Alps. We know you'll want to wander around our neighborhood, breath in the fresh air and savor the spectacular French border views that are to be had in our "off the beaten path" inn here in Piedmont, but we've got a guided market tour in Pinerolo in store for you as well. You just need to make sure you're here for Wednesday or Saturday morning as you won't want to miss out on this tempting part of the offer. You'll feel like a local as we shop our way through this twice weekly outdoor market that has been held in the same location for over 1,000 years.

We'll sample some of the local cheeses, but we'll be spoiled for choice as there are just so many to choose from and plenty of local fruits and vegetables to go along with or pick up all the ingredients for a picnic lunch later.

That is, unless we spoil ourselves with a trip to our favorite cafe with all the killer pastries and the  chocolate shop that makes their own version of Nutella that will have you checking your baggage allowance to see how many jars you will be able to bring home.

And naturally, there is the "view" from Bella Baita that is truly worth the visit.  Don't take our word for it, check out what some of our guests have had to say about their visit with us on Trip Advisor.

We recommend that you plan your visit with us sometime April through October, but other times would be considered and, naturally, subject to availability, as we are a small inn. The Bid item (code: EU35) offer is valid through Dec 2011, giving you plenty of time to plan that Italian holiday you've always wanted to take, or maybe you just want a short break to recharge the battery.
Be tempted by all of the European offerings where ours is located at author and bon vivant David Lebovitz's blog.

Have some fun and help a worthy cause that benefits many.
Bid now and bid often, we're awaiting your visit!

You can browse the varied bid items by region at all of the sites listed below:
Europe (hosted by David Lebovitz)
Asia Pacific (hosted by Ed of Tomatom)
USA: East Coast (hosted by Helen of Tartelette)
USA: West Coast (hosted by Shauna of Gluten Free Girl)
Canada (hosted by Tara of Seven Spoons)

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which bid item you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code.

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

And please pass this post along to friends and others via links on your blog and via social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. You can use the Share This button below.
If you have any questions you can contact me at Marla at bellabaita point com

Update: Here is a link to a streamlined bidding form, Menu for Hope 6 widget,  that simplifies the bidding process.

14 December 2009

"Eataly" rocking in Pinerolo

It was with great surprise and anticipation when I heard this summer that we were going to be getting an Eataly in little ole Pinerolo. As we watched the progress of the transformation of an old farmhouse that had already been transformed a time or two, emerge with Eataly's signature trademark  outside, I knew we were really and truly going to be blessed with this "Slow Food" store. For those of you unfamiliar with Eataly,  it is a store which originated in Torino and showcases the vast array of "Slow Food" products  and other high quality products made in Italy, with a heavy sampling from here in Piedmont because Bra, Italy, is the birthplace of Slow Food and it needs the massive old factory that has everything beautifully laid out with eating kiosks throughout the store to encourage you to sample whats on offer. The stores are starting to spread with one now in Milano, Bologna, and even Tokyo, so we are very happy to be in such good company.  For those of you visiting our area, it is a must do on your list of things to do and most of all experience.

The store is gorgeous and well laid out to entice and delight. There are so many different nooks and crannies. They have a well stocked wine cellar, beer emporium, fresh and unusual veggies,  and a gelato kiosk at the front so it can be your first and last stop of your visit. There are facilities for meeting rooms  or intimate tastings and an expansive patio with a sall pond for eating al fresco when the weather agrees. Eating is encouraged there and at home, so you really can experience the many facets of Italian  foods made with the utmost care. We have been a few times and it seems to have already established itself as favorite stop for having a bite to eat whether you're shopping or not.  Although I do recommend the shopping and this time of year, it's a marvelous place to discover all sorts of unique treats in addition to the best rice, pasta and loaves of hearty bread browned to perfection in their wood fired oven.  Yes, I know that you won't be able to walk out without a few purchases, if you're anything like me. We couldn't resist trying one of their hand tossed pizzas the last time we stopped in.

In true Fabrizio fashion, he knew their pizzaiolo maestro, with whom he had worked with many years before in the valley.  Davide, whose recommendation was to sample their simplest variety so we could truly taste the pizza dough and judge for ourselves if it was good or not, was spot on.
Classic Margherita, named in honor of our Savoy Queen Margherita, in 1889,  is a light tomato sauce, fresh basil and regular and buffalo mozzarella pizza, that just happens to be Fabrizio's favorite. We had no problem submitting to his suggestion, and I must say, the dough was divine. It had just a hint of tang and their wood fired oven imparts it's own flavor whilst producing that wonderful blend of a slightly crisp crust with just the right amount of chewiness. Topped with a light hand for sauce and cheese with fresh basil, which elevates pizza to a food group all it's own. Savoring it with an equally tasty micro brewed beer reinforced my love of simplicity with emphasis on quality, which Italian food relies on time and again.
It's reassuring to know too that if I'm stumped for a gift be it Christmas or any other time, that I can peruse the shelves of Eataly and not go empty handed.  Everyone loves to eat.
You will find plenty of foods that are a good value and great for every day eating in addition to ones on the "treat" list and in this day of watching our wallets empty out faster than filling up, it's good to know you can trust the quality offered here and find some great bargains in addition to a few things "just for fun" too.

and in the words of this poster on your way out of the store.
"Life is too brief, to eat and drink badly"

11 December 2009

Just Beet It- another Italian fast food

 What in the world is that? you might be wondering.
I did too the first time I came across them in the market a few years back.
These are oven or fire roasted beets for your cooking convenenience.
They may not be much to look at, but they are delish, with just the right amount of smoky flavor adding to the soft sweetness that oven roasted vegetables are so noted for. It seems that they start to appear late in the autumn as a means of extending their appeal to the public and perhaps they start to lose their sweetness as they sit. They also do this with the really large beets, which I don't know if's because they are large, or if they let them get large just for this purpose. I do know that I start looking for them in the autumn and savor them until they disappear sometime after the new year.
I use to always pickle a few beets back in my days in the US, as that was one of the main ways, well actually, the only way they were served in my family growing up. Now I tend to eat them up before I get to the pickling part. I really haven't met a vegetable I didn't like, although some have grown on me more as I have learned to prepare them in a variety of ways different from their original appearance in the family repertoire. My in laws introduced me to beets and onions cooked in the ashes of their fireplace originally.They like to wrap them in foil and toss them in the bottom of the drawer underneath the fire or sometimes directly into the coals, although they tend to like to keep the fire cranked up, so the drawer is usually a better option. In the market, they don't bother with the foil, so the first thing to do be fore using them is to peel off the crackly outer skin before proceeding. They'll last about a week in the refrigerator. Their flavor is more prominent if brought to room temperature before serving. This isn't a real ecipe just a guideline for making a tasty simple salad. If you don't have roasted beets, you can of course use the vaccum packed cooked ones or boil some to use, but the roasted ones really are worth the effort. If you nave some other things you are baking, you could wrap them in foil and leave in the bottom of your oven while your other things bake. I'll take about an hour depending on the size of your beets.

Roasted Beet Salad
1-2 cooked beets per person depending on the size of the beets
radiccio or some othr type of firm salad green
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
*Roasted seed mix for garnish,
I like sunflower, pumkpin, sesame and or flax

Peel and clean beets.
Cube or slice into long batons into a small bowl
Chop your radicchio(chicory or whatever) in thin ribbons, sort of like a chiffonade
Toss together and dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste (3:1ratio)
Season wiht S&P
*Roasted seed mix
You could mix all of these seeds together and place on a sheet tray and roast in the oven till lightly toasted or heat a heavy pan like a cast iron skillet
Add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds and let roast til starting to brown, shaking frequently so thye don't burn.
Once they start to brown add the sesame and flax. They'll start to pop and dance a bit and brown fast, so keep shaking your pan.
When you rech your desired color, remove from heat.
I then add a few drops of tamari or soy sauce and stir to distribute evenly.
It will stick a bit to the pan and with a cast iron skillet, it will give a deeper flavor I think.
When cool, sprinkle the seeds on top of beet and chicory mixture, just before serving.
I scooped some of the salad onto a radicchio leaf for a appealing presentation.
A lighter variety of chicory will make the salad stand out more.

07 December 2009

BloggerAid Cook Book, just in time for Christmas

Back in the spring I mentioned  the formal organization of BloggerAid  by Val of More Than Burnt Toast and Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen for the purpose of bringing bloggers together to help alleviate world hunger, one event at a time. The first one was to create a cook book from the collaboration of food bloggers from around he world. And so, after a lot of hard work by a small group of people, The BloggerAid Cool Book has arrived and is ready to make it's way to your home or maybe find it's way under the Christmas tree this year as it would make a fabulous gift.
Actually this labor of love arrived last month, but as I was on the road and really unable to focus enough to write a proper post, I'm taking this opportunity to make sure to put it out there for your consideration now. You'll find my recipe for Fresh Artichoke Lasagne, along with 130 other authors, representing 60 countries, so there should be something to tempt everyone.
100% of BloggerAid-CFF's proceeds from the cookbook will be sent directly to the WFP's School Meals Programme, which benefits an average of 22 million hungry children each year. School meals are important on many levels. In countries where school attendance is low, the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day boosts enrollment and promotes regular attendance.  Children are the key to a better future.

Again, if you haven't already discovered BloggerAid, there is no time like the present. It's free and there's no obligation, just a great opportunity to discover new blogs and friends. There is a link to the site where you can find out all about the project in my side bar. There's also a permanent link on my side bar as well to purchase the cookbook or you can follow this link to purchase your copy of The BloggerAid Cook Book
If you tell 2 friends and they tell 2 friends we can be well on our way to making a difference. Remember it takes only 25 cents to feed a child a school lunch, what a difference that can make.

03 December 2009

Euro Gusto 09- Tours, France


I'm finally back home from visiting my family and friends in the US and our promotional trip to the premiere, biennial edition, of Slow Food International's Euro Gusto 09 in Tours, France, so I just might get back on a regular blogging schedule. Goodness knows, I have plenty of things to say, and even some interesting events to say them about! One can certainly hope.
The last few days working at Euro Gusto 09, has been another wonderful, affirming experience. We traveled with our friend, Enrico Bernard of Bernard Elixir, to help promote his families' local mountain liqueur business, bringing his range of secret family digestive recipes, or elixirs as they are called, to a broader audience. We did the same back in March in London, but this event has the distinction of being a Slow Food exposition, and with that, you can rest assured that the products are of the highest standard, produced or grown with uncompromising integrity with respect for tradition and sustainability. Fabrizio and I created our TEM Association with the express purpose of bringing wider recognition and more tourism to our "off the beaten path valley", while supporting our fellow Val Chisone mountain businesses and encouraging sustainability and ecological practices.

In the words of the Euro Gusto organization, 
"The new event of the international movement “Slow Food”, Euro Gusto is held in alternating years in the City of Tours in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Loire Valley in France. Euro Gusto presents a unique opportunity to...
  • discover and purchase quality food products from across Europe and France and the “Centre” Region;
  • understand the cultural, economic and environmental implications of food that is “good, clean and fair” and, 
  • Learn to be an informed customer, supporting an environmentally sustainable food system 
We know when we attend any Slow Food events, like our local Torino Salone del Gusto, we will meet interesting and passionate people, producing foods from near and far that I never even knew existed. The diversity of offerings is staggering and inspiring. I always leave with not only a bag full of goodies familiar and not, but a renewed sense of purpose to achieve the highest level of quality myself that we are capable of achieving with our food from our locality. Make sure to seek out some local events in your area, you'll be surprised as to what is being produced in your backyard. Or you could even tailor a visit to one of our European events for a taste of the exotic and familiar. I know you won't be disappointed. Our Torino Salone del Gusto, next year runs 21-25 October, 2010. Mark your calender.
It was such a pleasure to participate in an event with such diversity and quality. As usual the attendees were as interesting as the participants and the crowds were manageable so you could  sample the many wonderful cheeses, cured meats, pastries, chocolate, oysters, wine, digestivi, vinegars, organic fruits and vegetables, marmalade, breads, fleur de sal, butter caramel, and  on and on.... Such diversity should be shared, so I put together a slide show of many of the participants to give you a healthy dose of what was on offer and maybe just maybe tantalize you into putting a Slow Food event on your calender.We'd be happy to point the way.

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