Today will be another day in the US, but for most children in Italy it marks the last day of the Christmas Holidays. The day the good witch known as ‘La Befana'(taken from the word Epiphania or Epiphany) leaves caramelle (candies) and toys in their stockings if they were good,if they were bad they can be sure to receive a stocking full of ‘carbone’ or coal.
Although, in the US the Christmas trees have been put away and decorations are just a memory, in Italy they still linger ,Christmas music is sitll playing ,stores still offer Christmas wrapping and plenty of Holiday treats still abound in mnay homes.. at least for one more day ..today, January 6th, the Epiphany.
But for me here it is a day trying to decide which celebration to go to..for instance in Venice there is always the La Befana Regatta..The men dress up in La befana costumes-complete with red lipstick and wigs- and compete in their small boats. after the race, they hand out little candies to the crowds of people and hot wine and sweets are served ,there is usually a concert by a local choir..
Then in Rome, Piazza Navona concludes it’s final day of the Christmas market. Both ‘La Befana’ and Santa Claus are walking around and available for photo taking. Stockings filled with candies and toys can be purchased as well as nativity scenes, la befana dolls, flying la befana’s (on a broomstick),candies, roasted nuts and more..
In the small towns nearby the piazzas all have their own little celebrations…
I have already attended many a La Befana Regatta in Venice and Christmas market in Piazza Navona in Rome.. I think this year I will opt for something quieter since both of those events have grown into ‘touristy’ attractions.
I am opting to do a dinner .. since we have many recipes we have been working on at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking Kitchen here in Abruzzo.Here are some recipes you can try also and no matter what age you are you can still have your own La Befana Celebration at home with some of these recipes for dinner, a Prosecco to accompany dinner or even a sparkiling red wine that is festive -Bracchetto D’Acqui.
Here is more info on La Befana Celebrations
Some Special Recipes we have been working on at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking kitchen:
Mille Feuilles & Sapori
*3 cups Grana Padano cheese
*1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
*2 cups fresh or frozen peas
*2 potatoes (cut into small cubes)
*2 tsps Sempre Sapori spice blend (Tuscan picnic flavor)
*1 scallion minced
*1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
*1 clove garlic
*extra virgin olive oil
Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour 1 cup of water on top. Let sit for 30 minutes.In center of non-stick, hot pan, melt a tablespoon of grated grana padano cheese over low heat. As cheese melts it becomes a wafer. Before it browns, transfer to flat plate and allow to cool. Repeaat and make 16 wafers. Place 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in saute pan, warm and place in chopped scallion and cubed potatoes. Saute till till golden. Add in broth and fresh or frozen peas. When mixture begins to boil, remove from heat. Place in food processor. Transfer t omixing bowl and fold in Sapori spice blend.
Place 1 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil in saute pan and warm, place in whole garlic clove and drained mushrooms. Add a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes abd remnove from heat.
Prepare dish by alternating layers of cheese wafers with mushrooms and puree. Top with puree. Decorate plate with sprig of fresh rosemary.
Walnut, Pomegranate ,Gruyere salad
*4 handfuls mixed salad greens (arugula, romaine,baby spinach)
*1 lb gruyere cheese
*2 hard boiled eggs
*3 tblsps extra virgin oilve oil
*4 tblsps shelled walnuts
*2 tsps Sempre Sapori spice blend (Tuscan Picnic flavor)
*2 tblsps pomegranate seeds
Wash, dry salad greeens. Slice cheese int overy thin,transparent slices. Boil eggs for 8 minutes, peel and chop. Fold cheese, eggs, walnuts,pomegranate seeds into salad in a large bowl.
In small bowl whisk together lemon juice, 3 tblsps extra virgin olive oil, Sapori. Pour over salad, toss and serve.
Buona La befana!
Stay tuned for our video blogs and recipes from my upcoming visits to parts of Umbria Italy..Borgo Fontanile and La Veranda farm resorts there as well as some sights from some medieval cities there!
For more great recipes get your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com\
Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene