When I was letting fear get to me in Los Angeles and not quite sure if going to Italy would mess up my life one of things I interpreted as a sign from God was a simple name.
Madre Italiano: Stefania.
For those who know me well or have heard my mom’s story, you know that my mom’s name is Stefanie (most call her Steffie) and she is near and dear to my heart. Having an incurable disease, my mom has become my little bear I have grown to love so much and have found myself trying to recreate memories of my childhood or find ways to fulfill little dreams of hers.
When I told my dad the mom’s name was “Stefania” he said, “I think it’s a sign from God. You don’t want to mess that up.” So thank you to the parents who named Ms. Vinci because that is most of the sole reason why I am in Italy right now, and thank you to God for the strong convictions you give me.
It is truly insane how many things Stefania does that reminds me of my mom. The way she cooks the most incredible veal (I don’t even eat meat and I made an exception) the way she only likes buying things on sale, the way she loves her sweet (dolce) pastiscerries at specialty shops and the way people call her Steffie.
With that being said, I have grown so fond of Stefania for the qualities that remind me of my mom, but also the one’s that are uniquely Stefania Vinci.
This woman runs a tight ship, with three kids and working as a teacher, she goes anywhere from sitting for hours helping her kids do homework, to dancing and singing to Latin songs in the kitchen, to wanting a foreign girl to stay at her house so her kids could improve English to making the best food I have ever had in my life.
She composes what most women try to accomplish and can’t quite get a grasp on- being a strong independent woman, having a family and being happy.
I woke up this morning and realized that besides writing, filming, editing, talking to as many people as possible, exploring Italy and meeting new friends, I want to learn how to cook.
I honestly could be voted by America as the worst cook in the world, but also #1 girl in the world who doesn’t give a hoot about cooking. I’ve come to realize though, that cooking doesn’t have to be this crazy domestic thing that only pinterest-loving-apron-wearing girls do (no offense, again, I’m jealous but it’s just not me) but something that everyone should learn how to do- whether it’s for your family or for yourself.
Instead of paying way too many euros for cooking lessons- I have an amazing cook right in front of me that I could easily learn from. Which is what I have set out to do.
Here is the big news. At the end of our 4 weeks of cooking lessons- I am going to make the entire family a meal. Obviously, this isn’t some huge grandious idea, but if you knew me and my burnt fondue, you know that if accomplished it would be more than impressive, it would be a miracle.
This is part 1 of a 5 part series of “Cooking with Steffie” – easy yummy Italian recipes and bonafide lessons from Una Cuoca Italiano.
Cucinando con Stefania (if pronounced right, it rhymes- coo-shin-yan-da con Stefania.)
1 Big Box of Beshamala
1 Box of Lasagna
1 small bag of parmagiana
1 small brick of Scamorza Affumicatad Cheese
(Note: Stefania does not use recipes or measure things precisely, so everyone who makes this will make it a bit differently)
Step 1: Cut the onion into small pieces and fry in a pan of olive oil.
Step 2: Cut the artichokes and take the inside out (the heart of the artichoke) and place in the pot with the golden onion, half a glass of water and a pinch of salt.
Step 3: While the artichokes are cooking, take a baking pan (choice of size is your preference) with flakes of butter and lay the lasagna pasta flat on the pan for your first layer
Step 4: Spread Bechamel sauce all over the first layer and add small pieces of artichokes throughout with small pieces of smoked cheese and sprinkles of Parmagiana.
Step 5: Continue this until you have 3 or 4 layers.
Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees (or 180 degrees in Europe) for about 20 minutes, checking the oven frequently.
Step 7: Give it a minute to cool, cut and enjoy! I never eat leftovers and I had it the next day for lunch- molto buono!