Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Peppers and Eggs" for Ferragosto !

Ferragosto is a national holiday celebrated in Italy. It is held usually on August 15th. Initially, it was related to festivities that took place in the middle of the summer to mark the end of manual labor in the fields. Ferragosto, in Italy means many things: it is time off from work, time to relax in the sun and a great time to spend with your family and friends enjoying a delicious meal. If you happen to be in the city of any region of Italy on or around August 15th, be prepared to witness the quiet atmosphere. As you will see mostly all the stores and tourist attractions are closed. But if you happen to go along the coast you will see millions of people at the beach, having fun and relaxing. Some may be preparing cook outs for an incredible evenings feast, and others are camping out under the stars, waiting for the fireworks to begin.

Aunt Sophie & Grandmother Julia
 The rest of the Italian people are either sleeping in or most likely in Church due to the fact that Roman Catholics implemented this day of August 15th as a “Holy Day of Obligation” to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This means they celebrate and honor the rise of Mary up to Heaven to join her son Jesus, taking her place by his side to look after those of us remaining here on Earth. Many people have celebrations in the streets by parading a statue of Mary and praying to her for guidance. In some coastal areas, the seas are also blessed on Ferragosto, especially in fishing communities. Catholic prayers are said and the sea is sprinkled with Holy Water with the sign of the cross over it. It is believed that to swim in the waters blessed on this day is a way of healing and medicinal.

The way my family and many other Italian families honor any festival, activity or event celebrating a special occasion is through the glorification of food. Typical Ferragosto food revolves around fresh vegetables, cold fruit, cold salads, cold pastas and of course cold beverages. Italian people look for cold foods to combat the heat of a hot August day. Many roadside stands sell watermelon and chilled fruit. So, no matter how you celebrate Ferragosto, the main thing to know is that it’s a way of gathering family and friends together for a memorable meal which equals love.

I would be remised if I didn’t mention that Julia Childs’ Birthday (August 15, 1912) and the anniversary of her death (August 13, 2004) were also this weekend. She was an American cooking authority, cookbook author, TV Cooking show host, etc. Julia Child shared the passions, philosophies, and products of her kitchen for many years. Now she is sharing the kitchen itself with millions, having donated it to the National Museum of American History in 2001. I, for one am a huge fan. I will continue to learn, whether it is through her cookbooks or old re-runs of her TV show. Thanks Julia…. 
My recipe this week is my mothers‘ “Peppers and Eggs Sandwich.” I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to make this sandwich for us when we would go to the beach or have picnics. It really is a one meal sandwich. You have your peppers, eggs, onions and it was all encased in a crispy Italian bread or roll. This is a great sandwich to take with you as you can eat it hot or cold. What makes this sandwich irresistible is that when you take a bite of the peppers with onions it gives a sweet taste to the eggs. It’s also very juicy, which the Italian bread or roll soaks up some of the juices but if I were you, I would make sure you have a napkin and a fork to pick up every last piece. Also, I thought that you would need a refreshing drink to add to your beach party. So, this one hits the spot! It is called “Tiziano” This drink will cool you down and is courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network. You can mix this together and take this with you, and don‘t forget a few glasses.

Peppers and Eggs Sandwich

4 green peppers, washed, seeded and sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 eggs, beaten in a bowl
¼ cup of olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf of Italian or French bread (rolls or ciabatta can be used as well)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat then, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of pan. Now, add peppers and onions, stirring while regulating the heat so the onions will not burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened and the onions are caramelized. Then add the beaten eggs and continue stirring until the eggs are cooked and set. Next, salt and pepper to taste. Make sure all are combined. (just like scrambled eggs) Now slice the bread or rolls lengthwise without cutting all the way through. Next, fill the rolls or bread with the cooked mixture. You can wrap a cooled sandwich in wax paper and put it in your picnic basket.

Optional: You can sprinkle some grated Pecorino Romano Cheese on top of mixture or even put a slice of American or Provolone cheese in the sandwich. (if you eat it while it is hot, the cheese melts) You can also use red or yellow peppers if you prefer.    Serves: 4


1 bottle of Prosecco (sparkling white wine) chilled
1 ½ cups of grape juice, chilled
Ice optional
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
Chopped fresh Mint leaves, for garnish

Combine the Prosecco and the grape juice in a pitcher. Pour into glasses, over ice if desired. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.


Ciao! Till next time……
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