Nobody does Easter like the Italians. From chocolate fantasy eggs and wonderful cookies to the famous Pastiera, celebration foods abound. Lent, or Quaresima as it is known in Italy, is the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, a time of self-enforced culinary deprivation during which cucina magra, or the consumption of lean food, is the order of the day. This extends all the way to dessert. However, Italians have found plenty of ways to enjoy their treats during the Lenten season, and Quaresimali, a traditional cookie, is but one. Each region, each town, every bakery and every nonna has a unique rendition of this cookie. From tooth-breakingly hard and desperately in need of a dunk, to the delicate cocoa meringue alphabet cookies of Florence, these cookies are found throughout the country. Read more of this article »
Win a Cavatelli Maker
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The winner is SippitySup of the website SippitySup.com!
Congratulazioni, Greg, your Cavatelli Maker is on its way!
I wrote about handmade cavatelli a few months ago, and I was surprised and touched by how many readers commented that it reminded them of childhood memories dished up by moms, aunts and grandmothers. In particular, a number of you mentioned ricotta cavatelli. So here is another childhood favorite, this time with some ricotta in the cavatelli and a sauce made of sweet Italian sausage and Swiss chard. Read more of this article »
Blood Orange-Campari Sorbetto in a Negroni splashed with Prosecco
The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.
- Orson Welles on the Negroni
The Negroni (nay-GROW-nee) is perhaps the quintessential aperitivo – one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari, all of it over ice, with an orange round. Classic cocktail lore tells us the Negroni is a direct descendant of the Milano-Torino, a drink now known as the Americano. It happened like this: in 1919 at Florence’s Caffe Casoni Count Camillo Negroni asked barman Fosco Scarselli to add a bit of fortification, un ‘po piu robusto, to his Milano-Torino. Sig. Scarselli acquiesced to his patron’s wish, adding gin in place of seltzer. The deed done, Sig. Scarselli realized the two drinks looked quite alike. With a barman’s panache he substituted an orange garnish for the Milano-Torino’s lemon… Read more of this article »
Warm weather or cold weather, rain or shine, I make frozen desserts all year round, and my gelato machine occupies pride of place on my kitchen counter. I enjoy trying new things, and olive oil gelati are the subject of my latest experimentation. Here a simple egg custard based gelato is made with olive oil, and not just any olive oil. I used Agrumato (ah-gru-MAH-to) Tangerine, a premium extra virgin olive oil made by the Ricci Family of Abruzzo. The olives are Gentile di Chieti, Leccino, and Olivastra cultivars. In some citrus oils the flavoring agents are added to the finished oil, almost as an afterthought, but in the best of class the citrus is pressed together with the olives resulting in an extraordinary harmony and blending of flavors that lesser quality oils can not rival. The Ricci Family presses both olives and citrus together to produce a fine oil with no sense of “added flavor.” Read more of this article »
Corn Pasta Squares with Beef and Mushroom Ragù
If you like corn, but think it is only for polenta, get to know tacconi. This pasta is often seen in the regions of Molise and Abruzzo, and elsewhere in Italy’s Mezzogiorno. The dough is made of finely ground corn flour, wheat flour, whole eggs, and water. Toothsome, with a nice bite and full of corn flavor, these small squares are no delicate, paper-thin pasta. Rolled to a thickness of 3 to 4mm, tacconi are hearty, a great match for Italy’s rich, soul-satisfying sauces. I tossed them with a ragù enriched with full-flavored beef broth and porcini mushrooms.
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