Blood Orange-Campari Sorbetto in a Negroni splashed with Prosecco

Negroni Float

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 »

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Agrumato Tangerine Gelato

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 »

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Corn Pasta Squares with Beef and Mushroom Ragù

Cut Tacconi

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.

Rotello cut Tacconi Read more of this article »

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My Old Le Creuset 9qtOven

With apologies to Tammy Wynette, singer and co-writer of the country standard Stand by Your Man, I’m calling this one Stand By Your Pan. This is a good news story, that in our age of lax, unconcerned customer service and “throw it away and buy new” mentality, I am both proud and pleased to relate. Read more of this article »

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Homegrown is alright with me.

Italian Garden Supplies

It’s never too early to plan a garden, and these days, with all the info on the Internet and all the mail order catalogs there is plenty to sift through. In just a few weeks it will be time to actually plant. Now is the time to do a little research.

Sure, if you are not in Italy, then you do not have the exact microclimate to grow a particular Italian vegetable or fruit. You do not have Italy’s indigenous soil either. But I am not going to quibble, and I am not going to let the purists stop me from growing my own, and neither should you. What greater joy is there than to walk into the garden with an empty trug and return to the kitchen, the trug brimming with fruits and vegetables grown with one’s own two hands, one’s own sweat and toil.

Don’t miss the thrill of seeing the tiny sprouting plants lift the dark, rich soil. Read more of this article »

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