Peace, Love and Food
One of my favorite sites I’ve been introduced to through Twitter is Ciao Florentina / Peace, Love and Food, located at www.ciaoflorentina.com. The name of this site alone was enough to get my attention, and upon viewing its colorful, well organized and professional format, I quickly became a loyal fan. Eventually I got to communicate with the creator herself, Miss Florentina Lile. I was pleased to discover that we have so much in common, as we both have Italian blood, and she’s a major FOODIE like me. What an insightful, creative person she is, and her story about family,
love, life and food is very inspiring. Florentina’s blog is so well done, I decided to feature it here as our first 5-Star Food Blog Award Winner. This is an endorsement of her site, and a recommendation to all of my loyal readers and subscribers to experience Florentina’s unique approach to food, love and life.
If it is recipes you are seeking, well this is the place! The photography is amazing, and the recipes easy to decipher. Even an amateur could follow them. I am sure Tina makes the recipes easy to duplicate on purpose, as her cooking skills are advanced. She is modest though, and would never brag…that is where I come in, to brag for her! There is nothing intimidating about a visit to www.ciaoflorentina.com!! This site is super-user-friendly!
We sat with 29-year old Florentina Lile and she gave us a few interesting tid-bits about herself. “I grew up poor but rich with love. I had my share of heartbreaking experiences during my journey as a young immigrant girl fulfilling my very own American dream, but today I am very proud and happy to be here. I am still fluent in Romanian and can speak lots of Italian too. Most of my recipes are common home cooked meals that I grew up eating, prepared by my parents & grandparents. Other recipes come to me after I’ve eaten something delicious in a restaurant for example. I’ll then recreate a similar dish with my own flair later just by guessing what the ingredients were! I even do all the food photography you see in-house!”
Tina continues, ” I am a lover of all things beautiful, especially people and nature, and I feel really blessed to have so much love in my life today. I am very selective when it comes to the people around me, because only love interests me. I refuse to accept any negativity that tries to come my way. I wake up every morning looking for beauty and love, and always find it. I love cooking and setting up a lovely table, but even more so I love bringing people together and sharing love with food being the greatest excuse ever. I live my life on a prayer & a dream, cherish my family and friends and encourage everyone to cook at home, set the table, light a candle and dare to love someone.” I say this foodie is just too good to be true…but she is for real folks!
Here is an example of a recipe from Tina’s site: Pappardelle with Ragu alla Bolognese
Tina says: Ragu alla Bolognese usually takes hours of simmering and stirring over a hot stove but you can definitely turn it into a comforting meal for every night of the week in half the time the traditional recipe calls for. With the crazy California weather we get at times, this dish is the perfect choice for a middle of the week home cooked dinner. Serve this meal with a glass of red wine and share it with someone special.
1/2 yellow onion -minced
3 garlic cloves -minced
1 carrot -diced
1 celery stalk -diced
3 tbs ev olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c milk
2 bay leaves
28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
5 basil leaves -thinly sliced
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
8 oz pappardelle or tagliatelle
1. Heat up the olive oil and butter in a large enameled (preferred) cast iron pot. Add the onion and a pinch of sea salt then saute until translucent. Add red pepper flakes and cook for an extra minute. Next stir in the diced carrots and celery, then saute on low flame for 10 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and the ground beef to the pot, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink, then add the tomato paste and milk. Allow to simmer until the milk has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
3. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the pot with the bay leaves and the sea salt. Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for 1 1/2 hours stirring often, or until the sauce is very thick. Add the black pepper and adjust seasoning to your taste.
4. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente, following the instructions on the package. Reserve 1 c of the pasta water just in case you need to add it to the sauce later. Remember, your pasta water should taste like sea water, so be generous with the sea salt.
5. Toss the pappardelle with the meat sauce, sprinkle with the basil and serve with a nice grating of parmigiano reggiano cheese.
So what are you waiting for? You know how picky I am when it comes to food! www.ciaoflorentina.com is a site with so many things to read about beside just recipes. There are other features to enjoy, such as About Florentina, Twitterlicious and a Kid Friendly section, a very good idea in my opinion. One of the coolest features on Tina’s site is My Life in Photos, a lovely trip through the family influences that made Florentina the inspired food lover and recipe creator she is today! She may not be a trained chef, but I would rather eat food like hers that is made with love than some commercial chef in a fancy restaurant any day…and I do a lot of that in my line of work!
Stop by www.ciaoflorentina.com and subscribe to the recipes and interesting features you’ll find there. Experience the Peace, Love and Food that should be a part of all our lives! Her site will make you feel good about life! When you get there, tell Florentina that Tom House and Dinnerreviews.com© sent you.