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Storytellers Experience

Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta

Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

Tuscan style lasagna with bechamel and sugo

Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

Due to legalities you have to promise you’re 21 or older before proceeding to read this post.  Yes, we are talking wine and food.  But it’s the wine that’s the tricky part.  Thanks!

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Nothing could have prepared me for the magic and beauty of Tuscany.  Although I’ve read about Tuscany for years, viewed what feels like a million photographs and watched several films, it didn’t even begin to compare to the moment I stepped onto the gloriously beautiful landscape.

Now, never a day goes by that Tuscany doesn’t come to mind. The lovely memories of decadent food and wine, beautiful landscape, warm and hospitable residents and our DaVinci Wine team… seem to linger and cause my heart to long as if I’ve lost a true love.

Glorious Tuscan Cuisine and Franco the Sous Chef

Glorious Tuscan Cuisine and Franco the Sous Chef

Sounds dramatic I know.  But as my sister said to me after her trip to London – I feel forever changed.  Traveling abroad and experiencing life in a new land is an enlightening feeling.  Probably because I’ve always been so intrigued by people and their food.  Our own food culture here in the states is beautifully diverse as well and possibly some of the most intriguing.  But to experience Tuscany was indeed a highlight that makes me feel forever changed.

My trip was full of little surprises – like when Ranger Craig and I were in search of breakfast.  Eggs?  I think not. A pastry and espresso is found on every corner.  Ask for an egg and you just might be tossed out of the pastry shop.  Honestly , I didn’t mind.  Who wouldn’t mind having a gorgeous pastry and espresso for breakfast.  Nothing terribly sweet, just a little something to start the day.    Or when my fellow Storyteller, Jim O’Donnell asked for an Americano at a little establishment just outside Monteriggioni. He promptly received a “no”; with an espresso instead. A hilarious moment that you can read all about it here.

DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience

Harvesting the Sangiovese grapes and Photographer Leela Cyd catching the action.

While dining at a restaurant in Florence, I was surprised by the lasagna I ordered.  Not at all the version we prepare here in the states.  Although our Italian American version is divine, this thing of beauty included layers of lush and buttery lasagna pasta sheets with rich béchamel, parmesan, pecorino and rich Bolognese sauce, or as they call it here, sugo.

The absence of ricotta and mozzarella was startling. But I must say it wasn’t missed.  So when I arrived home, I simply had to re-create this lovely dish I so vividly remember.

Because this Tuscan Lasagna al Forno was created for my friends at DaVinci Wine, you can find it on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page.   To check out the websites of our other two Storytellers, just click on their names… Kristina Laurendi Havens and Leela Cyd.

I wish you all Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!

Karista

Tuscan Lasagna al Forno

Ingredients

For the Sugo:

¾ – 1 lb ground beef or ground Italian sausage

1 red onion, diced

1 carrot, small diced

1 rib of celery, small diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup DaVinci Chianti

2-3 cups tomato sauce

Pinch dried oregano

Pinch of allspice or pumpkin pie spice (I know  this seems unusual but a kind Trattoria Chef told me this ingredient is always included in his Sugo for Lasagna al Forno)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a heavy bottom skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the onion, carrot and celery until nicely golden brown, almost caramelized. Add the ground meat and garlic to the soffrito (diced veggies) and cook until done, breaking up any big pieces.  The meat should be small and somewhat minced.

Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the wine, scraping up the bits of good stuff (fond) on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano and allspice or pumpkin pie spice and a pinch or two of salt and pepper.  Put the skillet back on the heat and bring to a low simmer.  Let the sauce simmer while you prepare the béchamel.

Bechamel or White Ragu:

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons flour

3 cups warm whole milk

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  When the butter is melted whisk in the flour.  Then slowly whisk in the warm milk.

Continue whisking until your milk comes to a simmer and begins to thicken.  Turn the heat down so you don’t burn the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce thickens.

Stir in the pinch of fresh grated nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

You will want this béchamel (white ragu) thicker than a béchamel that you might toss with pasta.  So if it feels heavy or thick that’s ok.  It’ll be perfect for the lasagna.

For the Lasagna:

Ingredients

Fresh lasagna sheets, cooked – enough to fill a lasagna baking dish or a 9×13 baking dish.  I love a deep baking dish for this lasagna.

3-4 cups Sugo

3-4 cups Béchamel

½ cup grated parmesan

½ cup shaved pecorino Toscana

Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Ladle a little Sugo in the bottom of the baking dish and line with pasta sheets.  Ladle the pasta sheets with béchamel, sprinkle of parmesan and pecorino. Continue alternating the béchamel and Sugo until you’ve created 5-6 layers or used all your pasta sheets.  Be sure to save a cup of Sugo for the top of the lasagna.

Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the sides are bubbly.

Raise the heat to 400F.  Remove the foil and cook the lasagna until the top is toasty and cheese is golden brown, another 10 minutes or so.  Sometimes I put it under the broiler for extra color.

Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  This will allow the béchamel and cheese to firm for slicing.

Serve with a side of extra Vinci sauce and grated parmesan if desired.

 

 

Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

Frittata Florentine

Frittata prepared with fresh spinach and pomodor sauce

Frittata Florentine

~By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed~

Every morning in Vinci, Italy  I was greeted with lush beauty for the eyes, tranquility for the soul and exquisite food for the taste buds.   Food lovingly prepared by our Chef Ana.

In the sweet quiet of the early morning,  I would hear Chef Ana arrive, softly making her way through the villa to the well stocked kitchen – to begin preparing our morning meal.

My eyes would snap open and I’d lounge in my cozy bed unable to sleep; thinking about all the deliciousness I’d find on the breakfast table.

After meandering around my 14th century room with modern amenities, peeking out the windows, snapping pictures of my breathtaking views, splattering my enthusiasm all over social media, I eventually found my way downstairs.  Following the heavenly scents to a delicious assortment of eggs prepared poached or over easy, frittatas laced with fresh baby zucchini and decadent pomodoro, pastry, cured meats and cheese.  And of course, perfectly brewed fresh coffee served with milk Chef Ana had taken the time to warm.

Casale Leonardo da Vinci in Vinci Italy

Chef Ana and Franco/Morning at the Villa

This lovely Frittata Florentine is an adaption of the delicious frittatas Chef Ana served each morning.  And although this is quite an enticing version, nothing can compare to a frittata Chef Ana creates.

Find this recipe as well as my other seven recipes inspired by this glorious adventure to Tuscany on the DaVinci Wine Facebook Page. You will be able to save and print a copy from their page.  Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Frittata Florentine

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

6-8 large eggs (for a 10-12 inch non-stick oven proof skillet)

1 tablespoon water

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Two or three handfuls of fresh baby spinach or chopped spinach from your garden

2-3 tablespoon tomato sauce (I used my leftover Vinci sauce)

½ cup shredded or thinly shaved Pecorino

Pinch or two of dried Oregano, crushed with fingers

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Optional add ins: torn prosciutto, pancetta or coppa, diced bacon and fresh basil leaves

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Whisk together the eggs and water.  Heat a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of the skillet over medium heat.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggs and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, crushed oregano and crushed red pepper.  Allow the eggs to slightly set.

Once you see a crust forming on the bottom of the eggs, top the eggs with as much baby spinach as you like.  Then dot with tomato sauce and top with the cheese.

Place the skillet in the pre-heated oven and let it finish cooking for another 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are just set and cooked through.  I like my eggs “wet” so I tend to pull the skillet out a little before the full 10 minutes.

Let the frittata cool slightly then slide it onto a platter, slice and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Sweets

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

baked oatmeal with apples and spices

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Tractors humming in the distance, the scent of coffee in the air, the word “mom” can be heard chiming down the hallway and then I see Tank’s little furry face and big brown eyes peaking over the side of my bed.

I’m home.

I admit, it feels good to be home.  Although the last two weeks have been more magical than I ever imagined.

By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.  Thank you.

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Cantine Leonardo DaVinci Chef Ana

Me and Chef Ana

I have many beautiful stories to share, mouthwatering recipes to unveil, and delightful new friends to introduce.

In the beginning, I felt so lucky to be chosen the 2013 DaVinci Wine Culinary Arts Storyteller.  Now, I feel blessed.

DaVinci Wine

An enchanting week of food, wine and friends.

More to come.  Until then, here’s a new recipe to start your Autumn morning, or maybe, end your Autumn day.

Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes,

~Karista

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Serves 4-6

4-6 small ramekins or one 8-inch baking dish, buttered

Ingredients

About 2 cups chopped apple (1-2 apples depending on size) I used our local honeycrisp apple but you can use whatever you have on hand.

2 cups organic rolled oats (if you choose to use steel cut oats be sure to soak them overnight before preparing)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (and a little more for dusting apples)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

½ cup dark brown sugar (or ¾ cup coconut palm sugar)

2 eggs, slightly whisked

1 cup milk

¼ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil (I used Everyday Fresh)

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Whisk together the oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and olive oil.

Dust the apples with a little cinnamon.  Cinnamon is a excellent spice for lowering blood sugar.

Combine the oat mixture with the egg mixture and then fold in the apples.

Ladle into buttered ramekins or baking dish.  Add a small pat of butter on top of each filled ramekin or a few pats of butter on top of the oatmeal in the baking dish.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the baked oatmeal is mostly firm to the touch.

Serve warm… and if you like, drizzle a little maple syrup over the top.

Happy Harvest!

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salmon Seafood

Wild Salmon with Caramelized Fennel and Roasted Potatoes

wild salmon with caramelized fennel and roasted potatoes

Wild Salmon with Caramelized Fennel and Roasted Potatoes

Although my reality is not winning an Oscar or a Golden Globe, it feels that momentous.  I’ve been honored.  As some of you know, I’ve been awarded the Culinary Arts winner of the 2013 DaVinci Wine Storyteller’s Experience.

Very soon, I’ll be traveling to Vinci, Italy, courtesy of DaVinci Wine – home to the historic Cantine Leonardo Da Vinci, where DaVinci Wines are produced.  I will have the opportunity to visit and experience the rich history of the region and experience the culture of generations of wine growers, local chefs and artists.

DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience

Winner 2013 DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience

I’m thrilled to join three other winners on this extraordinary adventure, Kristina Havens, Leela Cyd and Jim O’Donnell.  They will also be writing about this experience from their professional perspectives, which should prove to be lovely beyond words and art.

Follow along with me on my DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience via DaVinci Wine Facebook Page and Karista’s Kitchen blog, Facebook page, PinterestInstagram and Twitter.  If  you happen to stop by the blog, check out the most recent social media activity on the Social Stream page.

I bid you Bon Voyage with this enticing little feast.  Italian inspired, farm fresh, seasonal and somewhat effortless.  Ahh… I like that word.  Effortless  🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Wild Salmon with Caramelized Fennel and Roasted Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the fish:

1 1/2 – 2lbs wild salmon (preferably fresh if you can find it) Or the traditional Italian recipe uses Red Mullet

Salt and Pepper

1-2 tablespoons Healthy oil of your choice or Ghee (clarified butter)

For the remaining dish:

1 – 2 medium fennel bulbs, ends trimmed (save the stalks for soups and stews) and 1/2 inch thick sliced.

1 1/2lbs baby potatoes (I adore fingerlings for their creamy texture), cleaned and halved or quartered to create uniform size for roasting.

Handful of capers, drained

Handful of Italian parsley, chopped

1/4 -1/2 cup white wine

1-2 tablespoons Olive oil

1-2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter) or butter

Salt and Pepper

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 375F and toss the cubed or quartered potatoes with a few tablespoons olive oil and then dust with salt and pepper.  Place the potatoes on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and roast until golden brown and soft.  About 10-15 minutes depending on size.

While the potatoes are roasting heat a tablespoon or two of ghee (clarified butter) in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.  When the butter is melted and frothy, add the sliced fennel and toss in the butter.  Turn the heat to medium and allow the fennel to cook and caramelize for about 10-15 minutes.  Continue tossing the fennel every few minutes or so.  Watch the temperature and adjust as necessary.

Cut the salmon into 4-6 pieces. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and either place the salmon in a baking dish and roast in the oven at 375F or pan sear in a large skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of oil or ghee (clarified butter).  This dish is also delicious with grilled salmon.   Click here for pan sear techniques.

When the fennel begins to brown, take the pan off the heat and add the wine.  Place the pan back on the heat and let the wine reduce until almost completely dissipated, stirring just a bit.  Then add the capers, Italian parsley, roasted potatoes and a drizzle of oil or ghee if needed.  Combine and then remove from the heat.  Taste for salt and pepper.

Place a portion of fennel and potatoes on four plates and then top with the wild salmon.  Garnish with Italian parsley and a squeeze of lemon.   Serve with DaVinci Pinot Grigio.

Buon Appetito!

This recipe is adapted from a Traditional Italian Red Mullet and Fennel dish.