SILVIA’S TRAYS

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SILVIA’S TRAYS is a blog for women about fresh, modern, power-loaded but delicious recipes from a mother, chef, wife and an activist.


Here you’ll find recipes for women at war with every day battles; kids, husbands, a sexist boss, a march on Washington, menopause, an-ever budding waist and the constant attack of nowadays relentless Twazis.

Silvia’s tray is a combination of my favorite recipes, ideas, stories and foods that I like to eat, cook and share. In the end, Silvia’s Trays it’s about my true passions.  Eating, cooking, family, friends, the people I cook for and I eat with and the relentless pursuit for balance,  peace and equality.

Go on, Share Food.

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Little Women


When I turned 13, my mother gave me a signed first edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She asked me to read it and she promised to one day discuss with me
her favorite character.

For years, she had been piling books in my room. Greek and Nordic mythology. Arabian fables. Anthologies of Dante and The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers. Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat. Ulysses. Anything by Primo Levi. And Italo Calvino (please, gift your children with his writings). A full series of Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And even one small pocket edition of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe that scared the bejesus out of me.

While I loved reading about Laura and became fascinated by her descriptions of churning butter and tapping freshly sugared sap and an attic full of winter squash and other supplies to get her through the winter, which was something very foreign and intriguing to an Italian girl, Little Women became one of my favorites. I immediately gravitated to Jo, the rebel. She lived unchaperoned in NYC, offered inappropriate stories to publishers, cut her hair short and turned down the rich boy next door.

While Jo will forever be my girl, I later concluded that Mrs. March was the true feminist character, the constructive one, the mother who allowed her four girls to thrive and follow their dreams by building their beloved castles in the clouds. She is sort of a gentler, old-fashioned, go-ahead kind of mom. She nourished her daughters with thoughts.

Nourishing is the best part of being a woman and a mother. We feed, listen, cook, teach, work, produce, give life, care, advocate, hug and fight. Nourishing doesn’t preclude  women from being seductive, and it shouldn’t stop us from being leaders. Nourishing is a female privilege. That’s not an insult to men, who, by the way I love and appreciate. But nourish is largely the land of females. Nourishing deserves respect like women deserve equal rights.  

The four March girls have kept coming back into my life in many ways, becoming even more daring, modern and, at times inflammatory. I rooted for the ladies in Sex in the City. I cried and laughed along with Hannah and the Girls on HBO (shall we talk about Matthew Rhys’ prosthetic Penis for a sec?!) And every decade I bump into a real-life incarnation of the four ladies in the form of my formidable girlfriends who are my lifeline. We bond over our need for love, respect and nourishment and our shared knowing of the importance of being allowed to be vocal, heard and successful. And I’m extremely thankful for each and every one of these women in my life.

A short while before the 2016 election, I took a walk with an argumentative friend. It became clear she was not going to vote for Clinton. What distressed me most at the time, though, was not her political viewpoint but a statement she made while discussing her choice. “The least of my concerns,” she said sternly, “is women’s rights.” Not acceptable, lady.

Dilma Rousseff once said, “I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say, ‘Yes women can.’” We, as women, have the responsibility to propel the movement for women’s rights forward. We also need energy and power to continue the journey we have ahead of us the next four years. Our daily fights are many but we need to persevere.

My mother died six months after giving me Little Women. I was never able to discuss with her which character was her favorite, although I like to think she, like me, was fond of Jo, the rebel.  I consider myself incredibly lucky that in the short time she was with me, she fueled my passion for reading, writing and cooking; she supplied me with an insubordinate mind; and that she nurtured me and taught me to stand up for my beliefs. I want my daughter and my son to grow up with the same ideals but hopefully in a more forward-thinking, more accepting society.

So get your favorite foursome together and dial your elected officials to nourish your country back to normal. And remind everyone you know to do the same. And if you’re hungry for more than good intentions, try my mom’s honey and tangerine roasted chicken. It’s a recipe that will keep you happy while satisfying your hunger for food and equality. #RESIST 

Honey, Tangerine and Rosemary Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Honey, Tangerine and Rosemary Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 3 1/2 -to - 4 Lb. organic whole chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 leaves fresh sage
  • 1 Medium white onion, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tangerines
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a nonstick roasting pan and line the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Prep the chicken. Season with salt and pepper the cavities and the outside. Stuff the chicken with the garlic, the rosemary, sage and the 2 onions half. Slice one of the tangerines in thin slices and place the slices at the bottom of the pan. Place the prepped chicken on the sliced tangerine in the pan.
  3. Juice the 2 remaining tangerines. In a tall jug combine the tangerine juice with the balsamic vinegar, the honey, the garlic cloves, the rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whiz with a hand held blender for a minute or two.
  4. Spoon all but 1/4 cup of liquid over all the chicken. Place chicken in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Spoon accumulated juices back over chicken, reverse pan back to front, and return to oven. Repeat a couple of times, basting every 10 minutes and switching pan position each time. If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat a bit. If juices dry up, use reserved liquid and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.
  5. After 50 minutes of roasting, insert an instant-read thermometer into a thigh; when it reads 155 to 165 degrees, remove chicken from oven, and baste one final time. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Substitute oranges with tangerines for a sweeter version. I also like adding fresh ginger to the basting sauce.

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Mermaid Toast

Sleepover For Rebel Girls.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.

Real women of the past and the present who have achieved incredible results, despite all odds. Rebel girls whose actions have changed the course of history. Painters, scientists, dancers, chefs, astronauts, jazz singers, pharaohs, boxers, writers, political leaders… from every corner of the globe!

It’s a collection of bedtime stories that will inspire young girls (and their mothers, their aunts, their cousins…) to be confident, to dream big, to cultivate their strength.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was born thanks to a succesful Crowdfunding campaign. Elena Favilli Francesca Cavallo two Italian rebel girls that made their dreams come true.

I’m making mermaid toast for the my next daughter’s sleepover, but move over Ariel, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is what we are reading.#RESIST

 

Mermaid Toast
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Mermaid Toast
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 slices bread slices toasted
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon natural plant base blue dye
  • glitter
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread.
  2. In a small bowl whip the cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add the blue coloring a little at the time. It looks better when you have some white streaks combined with blue, so don't over mix
  3. Spread the cream cheese on the toasted bread and go to town with glitter.
Recipe Notes

I also make the mermaid toast with ricotta and whipped cream. YUM!

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Honey, Tangerine and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

I think everyone should learn to roast a chicken properly. It’s a perfect go-to family meal, but you can be sure guests will appreciate it.  This is my mother delicious and nurturing recipe for roasted chicken and it’s a bit different from the usually roasted chickens; it’s comfort food with a twist. It calls for honey and tangerine juice. As the chicken roasts, the honey condenses and caramelizes, becoming thicker and stickier and turning the chicken’s skin crisp and brown, the tangerine adds an unusual citrusy taste to the otherwise bland meat. You have to remember to rotate the chicken and baste the bird  because the skin burns in spots. Rest the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.  The juices are tangy and sweet, I loved them spooned over a good rice. I love the power of a good family meal, it restores my energy and brings me joy.

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Clams, Mussels, White Beans and Chorizo Sauce


I hear microwave cooking on high for 2-3 minutes is the Pop Secret to espionage. I’m a chef, not a spy, I don’t care much for microwaves.  Unlike our advisor to the president, what I really care for is my health and the health of my family. I also deeply care about cooking nourishing dishes for us and I yearn to satisfy my cravings  for clean, light but filling dinners. I choose fish often instead of meat, I always offer crunchy vegetables, good grains and lots of legumes and once in a while, I indulge in the comfort of a bowl of pasta or a thick slice of wholesome, crusty bread; PHO and Ramen amuse me — but spaghetti aglio e olio do it for me.

When I spot fresh clams and mussels at the local store I’m quick to snatch them. Clam and mussels are low in fat and low in cholesterol and they are a great source of fish oils like salmon and cod. Frankly, I find them addictive, sort of like potato chips. I cannot resist them. They are really easy and fast to prepare—no worries, a quick steam it’s all they need, no risk of wiretapping from appliances.

I cook my clams and mussels together with humble white beans, fennel and chorizo.  These lovely treasures always turn out deeply satisfying and saucy. The beans are a powerful and a healthy alternative to high fat proteins and contain lots of iron, something women often need; the fennel adds a clean and bright crunch and the chorizo gives an indulgent smoky flavor to this all star-family favorite. I like to gobble down my big bowl with crusty bread. The kids and my husband “order” them on spaghetti. It’s a win-win situation, the adults pretend to be in the sunny riviera, the children throw the empty shells at each others.


Okay, besides nourishing the family, and cursing at the 5 am 2 hour snow delay text from school, I know you deeply care about what’s happening in congress, so double the portions up, get your “Girl’s Gang” over and in between saucy bites be productive and call your elected officials —non stop. This is – believe you me – the truth: we can eat all the healthy beans we can fit in our tummy, but if the Affordable Care Act is repealed at the end of the month more than 10 million Americans could lose their healthcare and it will be harder for the poorest Americans to afford health insurance. Be a force; the people in your life will be grateful and well fed. #RESIST 

Happy snow day! Share this post if you like it.


Clams, Mussels, White Beans and Chorizo Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 30 Minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 30 Minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Clams, Mussels, White Beans and Chorizo Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 30 Minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 30 Minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes, if desired
  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion finely diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup diced chorizo or pancetta
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves chopped
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup diced sundried tomatoes, if desired
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 36 little neck or manila clams scrubbed and rinsed
  • 36 mussles scrubbed, debearded and rinsed
  • 1/2 lemon
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium to low. Add the garlic cloves, the chili peppers flakes, if using then the onion and the celery. Gently cook and soften the onion for 5 to 7 minute with out browning.
  2. Add the sliced fennel, the chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring for an extra minute. Add the beans, the sun dried tomatoes if using and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium.
  3. Add the sherry vinegar and the white wine, stir for 5 minutes on medium low heat to cook the alcohol out. Add the Thyme and a hand full of the chopped parsley. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. When ready to serve add the clams and mussel to the beans, squeeze the lemon juice and stir. Then cover with a lid and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover and stir with a wooden spoon and cook until some of the clams and mussels start to open. Season lighlty with salt and pepper.
  5. Keep cooking and with a slotted spoon transfer the opened clams and mussels to a bowl as they open. It should take 7 to 9 minutes. Discard the unopened ones.
  6. Stir the beans on low heat, loosen with water if necessary, taste and season with salt and pepper, add the remaining chopped parsley. Discard the garlic cloves and thyme.
  7. Add the reserved clams and mussels to the beans, mix and drizzle extra olive oil. Serve with good bread.
Recipe Notes

This is a great dish for a crowd.  You can prep every thing ahead and cook the clams and mussels at the last minute. I like to serve it with good crusty bread or as a delicious sauce for spaghetti.

 

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Clams, Mussels, White Beans and Chorizo Sauce

When I spot fresh clams and mussels at the local store I’m quick to snatch them. Clam and mussels are low in fat and low in cholesterol and they are a great source of fish oils like salmon and cod. Frankly, I find them addictive, sort of like potato chips. I cannot resist them.

I cook my clams and mussels together with humble white beans, fennel and chorizo.  These lovely treasures always turn out deeply satisfying and saucy. The beans are a powerful and a healthy alternative to high fat proteins and contain lots of iron, something women often need; the fennel adds a clean and bright crunch and the chorizo gives an indulgent smoky flavor to this all star-family favorite. I like to gobble down my big bowl with crusty bread. The kids and my husband “order” them on spaghetti. It’s a win-win situation, the adults pretend to be in the sunny riviera, the children throw the empty shells at each others.

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SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS, CHICKEN ONE-TRAY DINNER

Immune System Power Booster


I was driving to a meeting when I heard Leonard Lopate, on NPR, declare that advertisers only care about women between 18 and 34. Ladies above 34 are worthless. I love you Leonard, but the hell with that. It’s not the 1950’s anymore. I’m in full swing with all sorts of life happenings and a decade and a half out of that target. I still shop, cook, spend, dress, exercise, travel, work, take care of my children and nourish my family.
Like many of my girlfriends, we kick ass and need to keep our “aging bodies” healthy, happy and always ready to shake a little booty when necessary.

Mushrooms are one of the few natural sources of vitamin D and they promote immune boosting functions by increasing production of antiviral proteins. Some of my favorite mushrooms are Shiitake. They are simply delicious and they taste particularly divine in this, always fool-proof, oven roasted lemon and parsley chicken one-tray recipe. It takes 35 minute in the oven and minimal prepping. Even my children, those little rascals always poo-pooing mushrooms, after falling from their chairs laughing when they heard the word SHIITAKE, gobbled these ones down! #RESIST


Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, Parsley One-Tray Dinner
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, Parsley One-Tray Dinner
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium organic lemon, juiced
  • 6-8 thyme sprigs
  • 1 lb. Shiitake mushrooms cleaned, stemmed and halved if too large
  • 1 organic lemon sliced
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • extra lemon slices and parsley for garnish
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 450F. Line a thick rimmed oven tray with parchment. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then place on the lined oven tray. Drizzle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and half of the lemon juice and add the thyme sprigs.
  2. Place the chicken in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown, then pull out of the oven.
  3. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, toss the cleaned mushrooms with the lemon slices and two tablespoons of the olive oil, one teaspoon of the sherry vinegar, the garlic and the thyme, then scatter around the browned chicken. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are browned at the edges.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, mix the remaining olive oil with the 1/2 a cup of parsley the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Season the sauce with salt.
  5. When ready to serve, squeeze the remaining half of the lemon on the chicken then spoon some of the parsley sauce on top of the chicken and mushrooms. Serve with the remaining sauce. Garnish with lemon and extra parsley.
Recipe Notes

I adore Shiitake. Of course fresh porcini would  make a wonderful substitute. I have also used marsala instead of the sherry vinegar for a slightly sweeter finish.

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Daily Fights

Homemade Ginger Ale

I have always been a feminist and a geek.  I was born that way. I once went on a strike because my Italian high school offered computer science only to boys. I also had a mad-unreturned crush on one of those boys. Since then, I have managed to keep up with technology and marry my adorable and smartypants husband, produce two constantly hungry children and keep up with my career.  As a by-product my daily fights have exponentially multiplied.

I wake up at 5:45 am everyday to cook a healthy breakfast and make “delicious” lunch boxes for the kids, even if I am 98% positive they would prefer a bowl of Captain Crunch and chicken fingers for lunch. I drive – perennially late – husband to the train station while simultaneously checking my social accounts and making sure I’m trending, an almost impossible task since Potus and his circus have taken over Twitter.

I sign up for my Soul Cycle class, by the time I hit reserve I already know I will never make it on time, I lose my $35. Oh, yeah, fuck it….Barreclass is where it is at anyway.

I sit down at my computer to write and work, it takes me 20 minutes to close Roblox Studio, my son gaming account, another 45 minutes goes by because I get stuck on a phone call with one of the soccer age coordinators, followed by another phone call by the school math specialist. She calls to kindly explain what common core scores my kids are supposed to get, in order to be accepted in compacted math. I DON’T know what compacted math is but I fake it. I check again to see if I’m trending on twitter or on refinery29.  Not yet.  #ParisFashionWeek is what’s happening. No luck with that one.

I move on and I concentrate on the recipes for my clients. I need to pee. I sit down with-out looking and I realize – EWW – I have landed on what It feels like a sticky liquid mess. Boys will be boys. I clean. I shower. I go back to work and five minutes later I’m hungry.

The emails pile on. I am told I must attend an exceptionally relevant event in downtown NYC at the latest hip bakery to benefit equality also or mainly because all the food influencers will be present. Somehow I finagle my way in.

I bring my two adorable kids as a beard. They spot 47 kind of Pinterest looking like decorated cakes. They go wild and spend $200 on sweets and they also pile up on Ottolenghi’s clones of yellow cumin mini doughnuts. It’s for a good cause I don’t mind. I notice a cute bunny on the counter, I think it’s a prop. I realize I’m mistaken, it’s not a prop — he has his own blog.  I’m told he is getting a book deal.  I spot -FUCK-  the kids feeding the cumin doughnuts to the blogger-author-bunny. God forbid, author-bunny gets a stomach bug.

I chat with a statuesque/thin/fabulous model, she tells me she loves cooking and eating really fatty food and that her blog has a GINORMOUS following. I look at her beautiful manicured hands, I glance at my dry cuticles and grill mark scars on my arm and for a second I want to cry. I don’t.

I make it back home. I realize I have to warm dinner up because the aupair tells me she is feeling tired and that also she is still not comfortable turning the stove on by herself, because the stove is different from the one she grew up with. She has been with us for 6 months.

I sit at the computer with – AH! – false hope I will finish my menus and recipes. I work for a solid 15 minutes before I become aware of the time.

I’m late to pick up my husband at the train station. I tell the aupair to make sure the peas don’t burn. I shove the kids in the back of our one week old car.  It smells good, it’s clean and it’s promising me a long life of service. I get on the road it’s dark as hell. The car on the opposite lane swirls towards me, I manage to move on time but the two driver side mirrors collide and explode. I hit the swear jar one thousand times. Kids think it’s hilarious and start cashing in on the situation. Methuselah blond lady, takes 20 minutes to find insurance papers, yells at me, in my head I think: “go fuck yourself”  but I keep politely smiling.  We finally exchange numbers.  I get to the train station late, husband is agitated and when he sees the exploded mirror he doesn’t respond well.

We get home, the peas are burned. The husband looks down at the carpet and notices mud tracks on the entrance carpet. Silently, with his coat still on, he starts vacuuming with a very loud Dust Buster, the one that, sadly we all know, doesn’t suck anything up, any longer. I make a mental note to hit Costco for a new one.

We have dinner, kids go wild, but they make me laugh. Husband seems to be in a better mood after a good meal. I think about going to a late yoga class – WHO THE FUCK AM I KIDDING – I need to be up till 2 am to finish my work and posting on socials.

I remember to make my daily call to our Senator.

Everyone is now in bed. The house is quiet. I pour a glass of my Home Made Ginger Ale – YUM! – I settle in front of the computer, I check my Instagram one more time , I start working.  #RESIST

 

Homemade Ginger Ale
Print Recipe
Servings
6/8 Drinks
Cook Time Passive Time
50 Minutes 3 Hours including chilling
Servings
6/8 Drinks
Cook Time Passive Time
50 Minutes 3 Hours including chilling
Homemade Ginger Ale
Print Recipe
Servings
6/8 Drinks
Cook Time Passive Time
50 Minutes 3 Hours including chilling
Servings
6/8 Drinks
Cook Time Passive Time
50 Minutes 3 Hours including chilling
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped and peeled ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 quart chilled seltzer or club soda
  • 3 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice
  • 10/15 mint leaves
  • 1 small pinch salt
Servings: Drinks
Units:
Instructions
Ginger Syrup
  1. Cook ginger with the water in a small pan. Bring water to a boil, then simmer partially covered, for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and let the liquid steep for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture through a sieve in to a bowl, pressing the ginger and then discarding.
  4. Return the liquid to a pan and add the sugar and a small pinch of salt.
  5. Heat the syrup over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Chill the syrup in covered jar until ready to use.
Assemble Drinks
  1. Mix the Ginger syrup with the seltzer and lemon juice and the mint leaves. You can start with a 1/4 cup of syrup and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice per 3/4 cup of seltzer, then adjust to your taste.
Recipe Notes

Ginger syrup will keep, chilled in a refrigerator for one week.

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