Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dream Room 2014 - We are ALL Winners

Just a quick thank you for all the readers of Arizona Foothills Magazine who selected our Serenity Harbor Dream Room as the Best Overall for the 2014 Dream Room project for the Phoenix Dream Center Hope Wing! We were so fortunate to be approached by Lynda Martin of Camelback Interior Design's to be a part of this project along with John Gurley of RJ Gurley Construction - you and your teams were a joy to work with and always had the can do attitude. What a fun and creative team we were and it looks like we more than achieved our goal! Thank you and congratulations to my Project Manager, Peter Ekema, who did a fantastic job and thanks also to all of the vendors and subs who made this all happen. You are all listed in our June 2014 blog when we first completed the project. June 2014 CandelariaDesignLifestyle Blog You can all be commended for being part of such an amazing cause and project that truly has an incredible impact on these women's' lives.

The stories we heard at this morning's presentation just make you shake your head that these kinds of crimes on humanity take place right here in our community. As a father of three daughters it is just frightening how vulnerable our young ladies are to these absolute scums of the earth who prey on these girls in public places that would shock you. This project makes a difference. The Dream Center gives these victims a place of safety, a place filled with love, discipline, hope and a chance to get their lives and spirits back.

It is through the vision, strength, perseverance, and inspiration of Mark and Chrissy Donnely that The Dream Center is steadily growing into a place of goodness and a landmark center that already is the model for the country. It is an absolute honor to know and work with these two! I am so proud to be a part of this project and I encourage all of you to get behind the 2015 project!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Candelaria's Birthday Osso Buco!

Wishing everyone a fantastic weekend and Sunday! We are loving this weather now in Arizona! It is spectacular and time to get out and get the garden going. Thank you also for all the wonderful birthday wishes last week! We have started a fun tradition now at the Candelarias whereby if its your birthday you are doing the cooking! So…..hmmmm, what to make???

Well one of my favorite dishes is Osso Bucco. Osso Bucco is a dish featuring a cross-cut veal shank braised with vegetables, white wine and broth.  It is then garnished with a gremolata which is a combo of garlic, lemon zest and parsley and served over risotto all milanese. The word Osso Bucco means Osso (bone) with a Bucco (hole) referring to the bone hole that is filled with marrow. I absolutely love this dish and accompanied by a big Brunello and I am in heaven.

So it sounds like this would be another complicated dish but quite the contrary - this is an easy dish that just needs time to cook! For my birthday,  I made 12 occo bucco shanks so I needed three pans. I am going to describe how to make osso bucco for 4 and I highly recommend it for a nice small dinner party at your home. You will blow your guests away. Here we go!

Place 1/4 cup of olive oil or butter or combo in  a Dutch Oven. I like the mixture. While the oil is heating up, season the veal thanks with 1-1/2 teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoons of pepper and dredge in the floor to coat. I used gluten free flour so everyone could enjoy. Remove any excess flour by giving the shanks a gentle shake. Shake the shank! When the oil is almost smoking, add the shanks and cook until well browned on all sides - I make sure the edges are browned too. Transfer the shanks to a plate and cover with foil.

Now add the pancetta, celery, carrots and onions to the pan an cook using a wood spoon to scape the meat bits free. Cook the veggies, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft yet still firm and lightly browned about 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and remaining salt and remaining pepper and cook for about a minute. Add the wine - you can add red or white - I like red. Stir to combine with the veggie mixture. Now add the crushed or diced tomatoes and beef stock and then return the shanks into the Dutch Oven and get them bathed in the goodness. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 3 hours or when the shanks are soft and tender and starting to fall away from the bone.

When ready, I take a nice bowl and spoon the risotto or polenta and then with a spatula scoop the Osso Bucco shank and gently place it on the bed of risotto. Then scoop the veggies and gravy/juice and spoon this over the top oaf the Osso Bucco and risotto nd then garnish with the gremolata and fresh grated parmesan cheese. Make sure you open that Brunello in the morning so it has all day to breathe. Serve hot and enjoy!

Candelaria's Osso Bucco

4 - 1-1/2 inch thick veal shanks - about 10-12 ounces each
1/4 cup of olive oil/butter
3 teaspoons of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup of gluten free flour
1/3 cup finely chopped pancetta
1-1/2 cups of chopped onions
1 cup of chopped carrots
3/4 cup of chopped celery
1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1-1/4 cups of red wine - use a good one!
1 cup of diced canned tomatoes
3 cups of beef broth
1/4 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Risotto or polenta - I like tartufo infused risotto with grated parmesan - recipe forthcoming.
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan and fresh lemon zest sprinkled over the top!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Enjoy Life - In the midst of this crazy world!

Being sort of out of the loop for two weeks while in Italy I am now slowly reconnecting with all the news out there. Frankly it is pretty damn scary. With ISIS and their reign of terror sweeping the lands we unwisely chose to vacate and the ebola virus sweeping West Africa and now popping up in Dallas, Spain and who knows where next? It reminds one of how fragile we all are and how truly dependent we are on one another. Hence my message today is simply make a point to just do something nice for someone each day. Go out of your way to do something or create something that spreads joy, happiness  and beauty. Small positive steps by a large herd makes a stampede. Just as small steps by the dark side does the same. If all of us just do a few things each day what a difference we would all see.

I don't get the hatred I'm seeing out there. Life is short - really short, and with all that is happening none of us really have a grasp of how fast it can all change. All of us in Arizona are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place, and really anyone who lives in the United States is truly blessed. Unfortunately, there are always and have always been war, disease, famine, droughts, etc. that mankind has had to deal with since the dawn of time. Despite our trust in technology which on the one hand gives us enormous means to deal with these issues, it also speeds them along with our ability to travel across the globe in a day or communicate or hack someone's account instantly. It's a double edged sword. Basically it all comes down to how we use the tools. The spear of the cave man is no different than the smart phone of today. They can be tools to feed and defend, communicate and learn, or kill and destroy, hack or cyberbully. It is all in the hands of each and every person.

I think what has now changed in the world is the true power our individual acts and morals play in the world in spite of how big a government's armies and air forces might be. As we are seeing with ISIS, dropping a few sporadic bombs here and there won't get the job done. These people are who they are and believe in evil and incivility and the more bombs we drop on them the more convinced they will become of their perspective. To think some of these ISIS troops are from teens in this country is sad. It means somewhere and somehow they lost hope here. Or opportunities did not exist for them here and they went to the dark side.

The solutions to all of these problems is not some grand epiphany that will miraculously appear and solve all of our problems. The solutions will take years if not generations. But as with all stampedes, as I said earlier, it takes just small steps in a unified and positive direction by millions of us to ultimately sweep a vast territory. Optimism versus terrorism. Love versus hate. Sharing and giving versus taking. Teaching and mentoring versus criticizing and condemning.

We all need to do more - it seems impossible but as a community and culture we can make a difference and it starts at home and with the people we all come in contact with each day. Driving to work, at the grocery store, in line at DMV - let's all try to shed light, hope, beauty and most importantly tolerance and lot more love……the world is tough enough.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pollo alla Diavola - Tuscan Style

Ok - thanks for the comments on my last blog comparing our food in the US to the food in Italy, both in growing and preparing.  More thoughts to come on that in the days and weeks ahead.

So I had a few requests for a simple recipe learned in Italy. This is an easy one and one I enjoy.

One of the most wonderful things about most Italian cuisine is its simplicity in ingredients and preparation. Here is a simple recipe that is always good and perfectly adapted to Arizona - Pollo alla Diavola - Grilled Chicken, Devil's Style. Many Italian cookbooks will have a version of this recipe, but here is an easy version that I feel truly responds to my passion for the simplicity of Italian and especially Tuscan/Umbrian cuisine.

Ok this is best over a grill with wood coals and an old brick or two placed over the bird. Or if you have a pizza oven, laid flat with the bricks over the top. To start, split a 2 pound chicken open along the backbone, folding it open just like a book. Use your hands to flatten the bird as much as possible.

Then, in a bowl, mix together the following ingredients:

4 cloves of garlic chopped finely
4 tablespoons of fresh chopped sage
4 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary
The grated zest and juice of 4 lemons from your lemon tree
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and ground pepper to taste
....and if you want to kick it up a notch, sprinkle with crushed pepper flakes as you prefer.

Coat your chicken with the above mixture and if you can let it marinate in the refrigerator for two hours or more and overnight if possible turning it often to really get the ingredients incorporated into the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on the hot grill, skin side down, and weigh it down with the old bricks. Grill for 15-20 minutes managing your coals and heat, turn the chicken skin side up, and grill for another 10 minutes or so depending on your heat. The chicken is done when the skin is dark and crispy. Serve right off the grill splitting the pieces with a meat cleaver as desired.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Arizona vs. Italy - A few Thoughts...

It's always great to be home. I love Arizona and of course the United States. I am proud of my country for sure - we are far from perfect, but we are an amazing group of people and country. As much as I love Italy, I would never leave the US to live permanently in Italy. Italy remains a wonderful place to visit.

I love all the conveniences we have here in the US. The nice freeways and open spaces. Our stores and product availability and wide selection. Our efficiency is amazing. But will all of these advantages and conveniences we have also given up some things that I feel deprive us of how great each and every day can be and how much more full our experience can be. There are areas where Italy far surpasses us and where we could learn from the Italian culture to enhance our daily lives and our health. That does not mean Italy couldn't learn a few things from us - like our amazing work ethic - which I think can still improve in this country. As I tell many people, if I could blend our two countries and ways of life into one culture I think it would be pretty close to perfect. A culture with a strong work ethic and an appreciation for beauty, quality and great food. Amerily!

Nothing brought this home to me more than when we got home and started to unpack, suffering from the effects of flying for 21 hours and passing 9 time zones, and I ran to Paradise Bakery for a salad and soup. Such a different experience from Italy. First - it was very fast - in comparison to Italy. However, the emphasis was purely on speed and making sure the portion I received was carefully measured and perfectly replicated. In Italy that cup of soup would be a work of art and would likely take twice if not there times to prepare. Nothing against my Paradise Bakery worker but the sour cream on the tomato soup was just randomly squirted across the surface and the tortilla chips where just quickly scattered over the top. In Italy, the sour cream would have been scripted into a beautiful pattern and the tortilla chips would be sculpted into a little tower. The soup would likely be concocted and composed from tomatoes from the local garden or farm and not from a can prepackaged with preservatives and tons of sodium.

Somehow our efficiency and need for quick and fast has taken over every aspect of our life and partially to our detriment. Our food really has suffered. One thing I notice on each trip to Italy is I can eat the food and drink the wine without any hint of heartburn or indigestion whereas in this country virtually everything here bothers me at some level. Our food is full of preservatives, chemicals, and fat. Their food is actually digestible and nourishing. Our food is slowly killing us at the expense of convenience and speed. Our health care system is a self fulling prophecy and result of the diabetes and obesity created by the mega food companies - they all stand to make billions from this system.

Thus I am so encouraged by the Farmer's Markets and Whole Foods and restaurants that use organic ingredients. I love designing home gardens and taking the time to cook with fresh ingredients grown locally. Let's all try to adapt this wonderful aspect of Italian culture - insisting our food be of higher quality and we take the time to prepare it properly and enjoy it properly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Candelaria Design Tour Italy 2014 - Arrividerci

Our trip is completed - well for the most part. As I write this I'm flying somewhere over Kentucky or Tennessee and we will all be home in Arizona soon. With a tight connection in Newark, all of us made the connecting flight but two of our travelers whose luggage were the last two bags off the conveyor in Newark, only so we could go through customs and get the bags rechecked, and then go back through security, and then find the gate that seemed to change locations two or three times. It sounds like they are on the next flight and will be home a few hours after the rest of us!

This year I had one three-peat traveler and two repeat travelers. It is always fun to see these travelers evolve from their first trip to the subsequent trips. Not only in their experience and familiarity with all of the little idiosyncrasies of the trip, but to see how their lives have changed and evolved. Just like the trip, you keep moving forward, despite the wrong turns, and right turns - you keep moving forward. Next thing you know you are on a completely different path in life. I love that about this trip and my repeat travelers. They truly are special people to me.

Next year we will finish the trip in Positano, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. This will be my first time to these locations so I'm sure next year's trip will be full of new adventures. We hope to put together a great group of 14-18 travelers for another spectacular journey. Don't wait to sign up - I already have four travelers from this year's trip ready to go!

My 11th Candelaria Design Tour is complete and now it's back to being an architect! We are excited with the projects we have going - with the Villages at Mountain Shadows being one of the main marquis projects currently underway. We have some amazing homes in design and production too including some unbelievable hillside homes, several homes in California and a new one just getting started in Cherry Hills, Colorado!

 The Italy trip always inspires me and so many aspects of the Italian culture and style get infused into both my personal and professional life. From architecture to food, to spending time with friends and family, and making our time at work and with clients more like family - it all gets infused into my everyday way of life! It's so easy to get caught up in the everyday hamster wheel but mixing it up with these little infusions of the Italian culture sure does make life more savory and beautiful.

So get ready - we will do our best to blog regularly and we will post some of the fabulous recipes from the dishes we enjoyed, talk more about the people and places we enjoyed, and go into more depth on design and just living. That's what we really want to focus on is how to all live a bit better! So here we go - stay tuned!