Recipe Book

Looking for a particular type of recipe? Here’s The Bittersweet Gourmet’s full collection.

 


Published: February 6, 2015 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Prep several small, slender-ish artichokes (think morelli or violet, not globes): Strip away all the tough outer leaves, cut off the tops, and scrape the outer fibrous layer from the stem. Quarter length-wise and remove the fuzzy choke (which should be minimal) and soak in fresh lemon juice diluted with water while you mince some […]

Published: January 20, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
The classic panzanella salad, with its key ingredients of fresh tomato, basil, and cucumber, is a quintessentially summer dish. But if you’ve got the basics on hand, why not improvise a different seasonal version? For this, I used green and yellow (surely hot-house) bell peppers, radishes, onion, and parsley. Soak the stale bread in cold […]

Published: January 16, 2014 | Category: All American, Marvels and Mishaps
One of the things I like about Nigella Lawson is she never shies from fats. Drain, skim, or trim off excess fat are indications you just don’t associate with her. For this salad, inspired by the recipe for bacon and egg salad in Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, fats from the cooked pancetta […]

Published: November 12, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites
Every Ash Wednesday in the town of Gradoli a peculiarly-named event takes place. The Pranzo del Purgatorio or ‘Purgatory Lunch’ is a communal meal organized by the Confraternità del Purgatorio, whose members go about town collecting ‘fat’ donations like prosciutto and other salumi from locals, items that are then auctioned in the town piazza to fund the […]

Published: November 9, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Here’s a simple, really yummy side dish inspired by Deborah Madison, from her ever-reliable ‘Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.’ Ingredients 1 large green cauliflower, aka ‘broccoflower’ 1 cup circa of mixed greens for the butter: 115 grams (about ¼ pound ) butter 2 Tbls minced fresh parsley 2 Tbls minced scallion 1 large garlic clove, grated or pressed […]

Published: October 2, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
If you’ve still got a few stubborn clusters of tomatoes clinging to the vine, and like me have had your fill of caprese salads and summer salsas, try these out. Ingredients 4 or 5 medium round tomatoes 1 small container or round of chèvre shoots of 2 or 3 green onions (aka scallions) Instructions Rinse and […]

Published: September 25, 2013 | Category: All American
Some years back a friend of mine in California self-published a cookbook. Full of quirks and anecdotes—like the disclosure about untested recipes (they ‘may, in fact, be crap’)—Bill Pollock’s Eat Happy brings together recipes learned from family, friends, and the odd pro chef in a collection infused with traces of its creator’s rather unique personality. And that’s what I […]

Published: August 2, 2013 | Category: Food Thoughts
Veggies tend to dominate my summer cooking. That’s a good thing, to be sure (lighter, healthier, and all that). But let’s face it. Vegetables get boring. For as far back as I can recall, I have been dutifully steaming, saucing, and sautéing vegetables all summer long. This year, I’ve been craving change, yearning to venture out […]

Published: June 9, 2013 | Category: All American
I really believe in and try to practice—honest I do—rule #39 from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual: ‘Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.’ You’ll eat foods like French fries, nachos, and ice cream a lot less often if you make them yourself. You’ll also save […]

Published: June 8, 2013 | Category: French Connection, Marvels and Mishaps
Tonight I made a salad of sliced apricots, chèvre, and walnuts. Such seemingly inharmonious ingredients caused my Tuscan hubby to ask me if this was a ‘real’ recipe. To which I replied, ‘It’s French.’ How sly am I, right? It instantly became a proper legitimate dish, my salade d’abricot. Slice the fruit, crumble or chunk in the cheese, […]

Published: June 2, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
‘Good morning, miss. Do you like the sample?’ I’m browsing a selection of Southern Italian specialty food products at an outdoor fair. The fellow running this booth, having figured out in two seconds I’m not Italian, isn’t about to forgo a chance to show off his English. I’m not falling for the ‘miss’ bit, though. […]

Published: April 7, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
A tagliere is a wooden cutting board on which meat is sliced. As a menu item or dish in Italy, however, tagliere refers to a plate or board of cold cuts, often including cheeses, breads, olives, and other finger foods. The noun tagliere and the Italian verb tagliare (‘to cut’) have a common origin, while […]

Published: April 1, 2013 | Category: French Connection
This recipe for ‘galettes of wild greens’ is adapted from Georgeanne Brennan’s The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence. If you don’t know of Brennan—a fellow Northern Californian who is to Provençal cuisine what yours truly would aspire to be to Tuscan regional cooking—definitely have a look at her lovely and impeccably written cookbooks. Serve […]

Published: March 24, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
  I got the idea for this recipe when I saw three kinds of radicchio packaged together at the grocery store: a red radicchio of Chioggia (round, cabbage-like, about the size of a grapefruit), a red radicchio of Treviso (oblong, resembles an endive), and a pink radicchio of Verona (loose-leafed, very pretty). The round leaves of the […]

Published: February 24, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
I grew up eating fried eggplant pretty regularly, thanks to my aunt Joan (who would dust the fried slices with grated parmesan cheese–yum). Cut thicker, and fried until very crisp, eggplant slices make for nice ‘building blocks’ of other creations. Here they are the foundation for what I dubbed ‘tomino towers’. Ingredients for 2 people […]

Published: February 24, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Ingredients 2 large, perfect oranges 1 tropea onion (aka ‘torpedo’) 1 handful taggiasca black olives 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary olive oil black pepper (optional) Instructions Slice the ends off the oranges, turn onto one of their now ‘flat’ sides and slice off all the rind with a sharp knife, following the curve […]

Published: February 24, 2013 | Category: French Connection
Okay, I admit I’m using the term niçoise a bit loosely here. This version, with smoked salmon instead of tuna or anchovy, is far more popular in my house, and just as healthy and delicious. Ingredients for 2 250 grams (8-9 ounces) smoked salmon 3 hard-boiled eggs 1 small jar of olives, niçoise if you […]

Published: February 13, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
I usually make this prawn & avocado salad as a side to accompany grilled fish. That way you can make use of your grill to cook the peppers, the prawns, your main fish course, and grill your bread, too, if you wish. Ingredients for 2 to 3 people About 2 lbs (1 kilo) of fresh […]


Published: April 17, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Salsa verde has countless variations around the world. In the Piedmont region of Italy, where it’s known as bagnet vert, the recipe calls for a piece of stale bread, crumbled and soaked in water or vinegar (think of panzanella). Other recipes include boiled egg yolks. These ingredients bulk up the sauce and cut its tanginess. […]

Published: April 6, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Two beautiful things about this crostini antipasto: the color and the ease of preparation. Frozen peas work fine for this recipe, as long as they are thoroughly thawed and drained of any liquid. If you can find fresh spring peas already shelled, then by all means use fresh. Ingredients 1 baguette for the crostini 2 […]

Published: February 23, 2013 | Category: All American
My dear friend and fellow American-in-Italy, Devorah, shared this recipe for a quick and tasty chipotle salsa with me some years back, and it’s since become my go-to snack of choice. Ingredients 1 can of diced tomatoes 1/2 of a red onion 1 garlic clove (or 2, if you love fresh garlic) 1 large chipotle […]

Published: February 8, 2013 | Category: French Connection
Although the base ingredients of aioli are invariable—garlic, egg yolk, olive oil—personal variations abound from cook to cook. Some versions call for mustard, others lemon juice, and there’s no clear consensus on a precise egg-to-garlic ratio. In Provence A-Z, British ex-pat writer and expert on all things Provençal Peter Mayle describes a ‘classic recipe’ with […]


Published: June 25, 2015 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
To make these grilled eggplant rolls, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill until soft, not crisp. You could also fry them in olive oil if preferred. Transfer them to a paper-towel-covered plate and lightly dust with grated pecorino romano or ricotta salata. Soften a container of cream cheese and blend it well with a […]

Published: November 4, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Maybe quest is a slightly romanticized word for what I’ve been doing over the past month—trying to create the perfect pumpkin soup. No matter. A happy outcome is all, achieved today with the discovery of a recipe courtesy of Life’s a Feast . I think what really sets this version of pumpkin soup apart is the addition […]

Published: October 8, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
I tasted seaweed fritters on the first morning I woke on the island of Ponza, at the sweet and cozy Piccolo Hotel Luisa.  I almost missed them entirely. Tucked away on a corner shelf of the terrace where breakfast was served, the fritters caught my eye only as I angled for a photo of the colorful […]

Published: September 2, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Today I was reading about pairing herbs and fruits, which turned into the inspiration for today’s lunch. Let the cheese warm to room temp. If it’s a very hard and crumbly blue, cream it together with some mascarpone or crème fraîche until it’s spreadable but still a bit chunky. Slice the figs delicately. Grill the bread, […]

Published: July 18, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
I came across this recipe for zucchini butter today courtesy of Jennie Cook’s column ‘Weeknights with Jenny’ at Food52, a class act food and recipe resource you should definitely know if you don’t already. I modified Cook’s recipe only slightly (and halved it), then served it on grilled bread with a sprinkle of grated parmigiano […]

Published: July 10, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Ingredients for 4 servings (This recipe yields enough cream of tomato for 6 smallish ‘starter’ servings or 4 normal soup servings. It can be easily doubled.) 1 kilo of fresh tomatoes (a little less than 2 pounds) 125 mls heavy cream (about 1/2 cup) 2 or 3 garlic cloves 1 small fresh red chili pepper […]

Published: May 26, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
If you follow this blog at all regularly, you’ve probably noticed I have a little thing for artichokes. This recipe for carciofi ritti (‘upright’ artichokes, or ‘standing up’ artichokes) comes to us via the exquisite blog by Emiko Davies, who also contributes to Food52 as Regional Italian Food columnist. I will refer you directly to […]

Published: April 28, 2014 | Category: French Connection
I discovered eggplant caviar in Provence, where it is commonly served as an hors d’oeuvre with crackers or bread. It is sometimes called poor man’s caviar, according to Peter Mayle, ‘because the aubergine seeds, when looked at with an uncritical eye, resemble the eggs of the virgin sturgeon.’ Ingredients 1 large eggplant 3 to 4 cloves […]

Published: April 24, 2014 | Category: French Connection
A recipe from David Lebovitz, who says ‘this isn’t a strict recipe, but a technique’ (win!). The basic idea is to marinate rounds of soft goat cheese, dredge them in seasoned, toasted breadcrumbs, and bake. Easy, tasty, elegant on the plate. Have look at Lebovitz’s recipe for specs. He’s always a great read, anyway. I […]

Published: April 8, 2014 | Category: All American
This is one of those salsas you don’t need to buy pre-made and should avoid ordering at restaurants (read this if you think I’m paranoid). Seriously, basic pico de gallo is one of the simplest salsas to prepare, and nothing beats its real salsa fresca zing when free of flavor-ruining citric acid and obscenely-high sodium. Blend […]

Published: April 6, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Two beautiful things about this crostini antipasto: the color and the ease of preparation. Frozen peas work fine for this recipe, as long as they are thoroughly thawed and drained of any liquid. If you can find fresh spring peas already shelled, then by all means use fresh. Ingredients 1 baguette for the crostini 2 […]

Published: February 5, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
These crispy, cheesy, bite-size florets make for a fabulous starter, and they particularly like to be served alongside a glass of Prosecco. Ingredients 1 cauliflower head 2 large eggs 40 grams (about 1/3 cup) grated ricotta salata cheese 40 grams (about 1/3 cup) grated Parmesan cheese ground black pepper olive oil salt Instructions Set a […]

Published: January 25, 2014 | Category: Strictly Tuscan
Coccoli are dollops of deep-fried bread dough. When folks speak of Tuscan genius, I am pretty sure they are thinking of coccoli, and not, rather, anything related to art, science, or philosophy. Coccoli are typically served as an antipasto but can certainly pass as a full meal in themselves. Ingredients 200 grams (about 1 & 3/4 […]

Published: November 25, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
These simple, savory cookies need no hype or fanfare. Just four ingredients and about 20 minutes. Ingredients 125 grams (1 stick plus 2 Tbls) salted butter, softened 125 grams (1 cup) flour 130 grams circa (1 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated 3 Tbsp whole milk Instructions Heat the oven to 175° C / 350° F.  Finely […]

Published: June 2, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
‘Good morning, miss. Do you like the sample?’ I’m browsing a selection of Southern Italian specialty food products at an outdoor fair. The fellow running this booth, having figured out in two seconds I’m not Italian, isn’t about to forgo a chance to show off his English. I’m not falling for the ‘miss’ bit, though. […]

Published: February 23, 2013 | Category: All American
My dear friend and fellow American-in-Italy, Devorah, shared this recipe for a quick and tasty chipotle salsa with me some years back, and it’s since become my go-to snack of choice. Ingredients 1 can of diced tomatoes 1/2 of a red onion 1 garlic clove (or 2, if you love fresh garlic) 1 large chipotle […]


Published: June 14, 2015 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Slice the eggplant into rounds and place them in a shallow baking dish or on a large platter. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary and thyme (or herbes de Provence) and let rest for about 15 minutes while you prep the fish. I cut the swordfish steaks into rounds to roughly […]

Published: April 11, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Ingredients for 4 to 6 people 3 eggplants 20-24 prawns / circa 450-500 grams of meat once shelled 1 large red bell pepper 2 large tomatoes 1 red onion 2 or 3 cloves garlic 2 Tbls chopped fresh parsley olive oil & salt Instructions Peel 1 eggplant entirely and the other 2 partially (in strips) […]

Published: March 9, 2014 | Category: All American
You don’t really need a recipe to make fish tacos, which is part of their charm. Fry, steam or sauté your favorite (usually white) fish, warm the tortillas and assemble the tacos with fixings of your choice. I’ve made fish tacos with a range of different fish, like perch, cod, and halibut. Salmon, swordfish, and snapper […]

Published: July 8, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Cooking mussels on the grill is not as crazy as it sounds. Once I got it in my head to make these, I started digging around on the internet for inspiration and quickly found a fab recipe courtesy of the classy, sharp cooks behind The Bitten Word. I’d noticed these fellows back when I was developing […]

Published: June 16, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
Let me start this post by clarifying one thing: I’d been in the mood to make something kinda weird for a couple weeks before reading this. Then a few days ago my husband quips, ‘We’re not eating enough fish—make something fishy!’ So when I saw Sardinian bottarga di muggine, or cured mullet roe, this past […]

Published: April 12, 2013 | Category: All American
This (modified) recipe comes courtesy of BBC Good Food, a fantastic resource for recipe ideas. I served these crunchy and delicious cakes with a simple escarole salad and yogurt sauce. BBC’s recipe called for a  fancy-pants salad: tomato, avocado, and watercress with a lemon and Dijon mustard dressing. In any case, the salad and its […]

Published: March 22, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Admit it. The title got your attention. I’ve been taking a cooking class this month, four lessons of exclusively fish and seafood recipes developed by a local chef named Sauro Ciani. Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed myself. This recipe, from our first lesson, calls for grouper fish (cernia), which was not available at the fish […]

Published: February 24, 2013 | Category: French Connection
Okay, I admit I’m using the term niçoise a bit loosely here. This version, with smoked salmon instead of tuna or anchovy, is far more popular in my house, and just as healthy and delicious. Ingredients for 2 250 grams (8-9 ounces) smoked salmon 3 hard-boiled eggs 1 small jar of olives, niçoise if you […]

Published: February 13, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
I usually make this prawn & avocado salad as a side to accompany grilled fish. That way you can make use of your grill to cook the peppers, the prawns, your main fish course, and grill your bread, too, if you wish. Ingredients for 2 to 3 people About 2 lbs (1 kilo) of fresh […]


Published: September 5, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Strictly Tuscan
I’ve been experimenting with pizza dough for a few years now, but only recently did I hit on what I consider a sure-thing recipe. Or method, I should say. Turns out you really must make your dough the night before, or at least 6 to 8 hours prior to forming your pizzas. That, and let it […]

Published: July 23, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Ingredients for the pastry: 1 & 1/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup very cold butter ice water for the topping: 1 large or 2 small zucchini 2-3 zucchini flowers 1 handful cherry tomatoes (about 7-8) 1 egg 3 heaping Tbls fresh ricotta 1 Tbls fresh thyme leaves 2-3 Tbls grated parmigiano or pecorino […]

Published: November 17, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
Would it surprise you to learn that this Italian classic does not traditionally call for Parmesan cheese? The name melanzana alla parmigiana means simply eggplant ‘made in the Parma way’—which is to layer a dish with vegetables and/or other ingredients. Its lineage is equally shifty, as there’s nothing truly definitive to suggest the dish originates […]

Published: July 27, 2013 | Category: French Connection
My dear friend Emily, who is both a diligent reader of The New York Times and a thoughtful recipe-sharer, sent me the link to this recipe of Martha Rose Shulman’s tart made with tomatoes, goat cheese, and mustard. I’d likely never have discovered this particularly scrumptious tart otherwise, which I’ve made a good five or […]

Published: May 5, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Pizza bianca, or pizza sans tomato sauce, is a favorite of my hubby’s and our Saturday night go-to meal. Start with a good pizza dough and top with your favorites: sausage or pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper, mozzarella, hot pepper flakes, minced garlic. Tips: Brush a little olive oil on the pizza before adding the […]


Published: October 23, 2015 | Category: French Connection, Strictly Tuscan
This season is all about the pumpkin. You might not agree with the phenomenon, but you certainly cannot fight it. So here’s a recipe for pici pasta with pumpkin and Camembert to celebrate your submission to the pumpkin forces of fall. Enjoy! Ingredients for 4-5 servings 400 grams pici pasta 300 grams circa fresh pumpkin 1/2 […]

Published: August 3, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
Towards the end of Julia Moskin’s recent article in The New York Times on Ischian cooking traditions, Enoteca la Stadera owner Ivo Iacono’s mention of an old family recipe caught my notice: One of his childhood favorites was a dish called figliata — a word meaning “litter,” as in puppies — made of eggs, basil, cheese […]

Published: February 18, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Mugello Marvels
‘Polentata’ is probably best translated as polenta festival or fair, and many towns around Italy today are hosting some sort of polenta-centered event. Why today? Polenta has long been associated with Ash Wednesday and the Lenten period on account of its ‘lean’ quality—it’s a peasant dish, if you will, part of the cucina povera. If […]

Published: February 17, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
Alla gricia, considered by many the antecedent to all’amatriciana and alla carbonara, is a pasta sauce from Lazio made with three ingredients: guanciale, pecorino romano, and black pepper. Get your hands on quality versions of these items, and you can’t go wrong. The recipe follows below. In the meantime, some history. Here are but a […]

Published: February 12, 2015 | Category: Culture Bites, Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
Here we go again. Just weeks after a Star brand television commercial stirred a heated debate with its portrayal of a Sicilian housewife adding a bouillon cube to the classic dish caponata, Italians are once more up in arms over another publicized violation of a beloved dish—this time, the pasta sauce known as sugo all’amatriciana. […]

Published: January 14, 2015 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
To make this tangy and super green rucola pesto, process several large handfuls of fresh rucola with one clove of garlic, about 1/3 cup good olive oil,  and one small handful each of salted (rinsed) capers and finely-grated parmesan cheese. Toss with just-drained pasta. It keeps in a glass jar for 4-5 days in the […]

Published: January 13, 2015 | Category: Italian for Beginners
The idea is simple. In place of meat ragù, use a chunky-ish sauce made of finely chopped mushrooms (champignons and dried/soaked porcini; cook for about ten minutes in olive oil; salt, pepper, chopped fresh parsley; a scoop or two of your béchamel). You can layer in extra slices of mushrooms here and there as you […]

Published: October 23, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Use any kind of blue cheese you like for this recipe. For a twist add some rapini buds and greens and romanesco to the broccoli blend. I don’t use a pasta machine for these, just a rolling pin, which results in a very thick raviolo and thus fewer pieces per serving, about 5 or 6 […]

Published: September 28, 2014 | Category: Food Thoughts, Italian for Beginners
The fagiolina del lago Trasimeno is a tiny, multi-colored legume cultivated in the lands around Lake Trasimeno in Umbria since as far back as the third century B.C., an era in which it formed part of the Etruscan diet. In the mid-19th century, however,  the fagiolina faced near-extinction; at a time of increased production of […]

Published: July 31, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
Pasta alla Norma, or pasta in the style of Norma (more or less), is a classic Italian pasta dish with a quirky backstory. According to a widely-known anecdote, around 1920 the Catanese playwright and poet Nino Martoglio was lunching in the company of some theater friends. Upon being served a plate of pasta in a […]

Published: July 13, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Ingredients for 4 servings 350 grams of pasta (such as penne, fusilli, or bowties) 4 or 5 medium-large round tomatoes 1 or 2 garlic cloves 1 small fresh red chili pepper 1 large buffalo mozzarella (about 300 grams/10-11 ounces) fresh basil dried oregano salt olive oil Instructions Make the salad while the pasta water boils. […]

Published: July 5, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
I’m not usually one to brag, but I’m afraid it would be altogether disingenuous of me to describe this dish as anything less than marvelous. You can use spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini in place of bavette pasta. Just be sure to drain the pasta as soon as it’s al dente. Make the tomato sorbet a […]

Published: June 30, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
What I’m calling mediterranea is a sauce made from an assortment of veggies and herbs common in Italy this time of year: zucchini,  eggplant, bell pepper, basil, and so on. This dish is super flavorful and nicely-textured, colorful on the plate, and quite healthy (if you’re into that sort of thing). Skip the ricotta and […]

Published: May 3, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
It’s prugnolo season! Throughout Tuscany, Umbria, and other regions of Italy from the end of April through much of May (depending on the weather), this darling, dense mushroom sprouts all over fields and pastures, and reigns over the local culinary scene. Right now baskets of them are everywhere—local grocers, outdoor markets, roadside stands, and they’re […]

Published: February 17, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Seems we are continuing with an artichoke theme this week! After making yesterday’s stuffed ‘chokes, I decided to make an artichoke broth using all the vegetable scraps. Artichoke broth is nothing special to behold, yet it is very tasty and versatile (and reputed to have health benefits). Collect all your artichoke scraps, everything except the […]

Published: February 10, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Italy Magazine is the go-to publication for all things Italian. Recently I participated in their Italy Blog Awards 2013, a super initiative that brought together some amazing Italy-based writers and bloggers. I was thrilled to be nominated (read: I made my husband nominate me) in the Best Food Blog category, if for no other reason […]

Published: February 4, 2014 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Inspired by the more traditional orecchiette con cime di rapa, this greenissimo pasta dish features foglie di pasta agli spinaci, or leaf-shaped spinach pasta in place of the ‘little ear’ shapes known as orecchiette. The broccoli-like small buds of the plant are the prize, yet the leaves when cooked are also very good, with a […]

Published: January 22, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
I am humbly calling this my ‘mid-week masterpiece.’ Ingredients for 4 people 350 grams (about 11 ounces) dry spaghetti 250 grams (1 cup) cubed smoked pancetta 10 to 12 champignon mushrooms 175-200 grams (about 3/4 cup) grated ricotta salata, aka ricotta stagionata 2 Tbls each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme olive oil salt & pepper […]

Published: November 23, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Lunch today was a crunchy-savory-tangy spaghetti recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking. Check it out!

Published: November 18, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Strictly Tuscan
‘Finferli’ are very common, funny-looking mushrooms known by several names. In English they are chanterelles or golden chanterelles, and Italians call them about a dozen different ways: besides finferli, in Italy they are also called galletti or gallinacci. According to the Mycological Society of San Francisco—a dangerously enticing site, especially the cookbook section—these mushrooms vary in size from […]

Published: October 27, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
I love this recipe. It’s a hearty, tasty, pretty-to-look at dish that, while a bit demanding time-wise, you can make in advance and refrigerate until baking (if you do, be sure to remove the dish from the fridge and let warm to room temp prior to baking). Ingredients 300 grams of super large pasta shells, […]

Published: October 19, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners, Mugello Marvels, Strictly Tuscan
Born in 1943 in Borgo San Lorenzo, Tebaldo Lorini is a writer and folklorist who researches gastronomic traditions of the Mugello. His cookbooks and the recipes therein are the fruit of his conversations with locals throughout our region, and as such represent an invaluable record of living memory. Last year Lorini published Ricette Proibite: Rane, […]

Published: September 30, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
I caught this on a random Italian cooking show yesterday and, intrigued, decided to try them out for lunch. Ingredients 100 grams of white flour 200 grams of semolina 2 eggs 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped 1 teaspoon salt water Instructions Pour both the flours in a mound on a large wooden working surface. […]

Published: August 9, 2013 | Category: All American, Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
Orzo pasta salad is super-easy, stores and travels well, and is lovely served cold—in other words, a perfect summer side dish! The quantities below are for a very large batch, to take to a pot-luck or serve family style. Ingredients 500 grams (a little over 1 pound) of orzo pasta 350 grams (1 cup circa) […]

Published: July 17, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
There’s something about the combination of anchovy and zucchini, especially when you toss in the flowers, that tastes really amazing. Add a pinch of saffron and you’ve got a delicious (and rather pretty, if I say so myself!) dish. Find some zucchini with the flowers, carefully detach the flowers and remove the pestle and set […]

Published: July 6, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
We always have a jar (or two) of pesto in the fridge. I love the stuff, especially my father-in-law’s home-made version. While I would never dare to ‘contaminate’ his with anything red, sometimes I like to jazz up regular store-bought pesto with cherry tomatoes or red pepper. Here’s what I made today: Ingredients for 4 […]

Published: June 16, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
Let me start this post by clarifying one thing: I’d been in the mood to make something kinda weird for a couple weeks before reading this. Then a few days ago my husband quips, ‘We’re not eating enough fish—make something fishy!’ So when I saw Sardinian bottarga di muggine, or cured mullet roe, this past […]

Published: June 2, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
‘Good morning, miss. Do you like the sample?’ I’m browsing a selection of Southern Italian specialty food products at an outdoor fair. The fellow running this booth, having figured out in two seconds I’m not Italian, isn’t about to forgo a chance to show off his English. I’m not falling for the ‘miss’ bit, though. […]

Published: March 28, 2013 | Category: Food Spy, Italian for Beginners
Where Food Spy ate: Enoliteca Ombrone in Suvereto, a town in the Tuscan Maremma. What Food Spy ordered: Mezze maniche with asparagus, porcini mushrooms, and fresh thyme. Presentation notes: A large bowl, about 80 grams circa of mezze maniche pasta in an earthy-colored, aromatic sauce sprinkled with fresh thyme. Food Spy’s recipe for 4 people 350 […]

Published: March 13, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Ingredients for 4 people 350 grams (about 3/4 pound) bucatini pasta 2 artichokes 1/2 a white or yellow onion 3 small oil-packed anchovies 100 grams (about 1/3 cup) course bread crumbs 1 small package of saffron (about 2 pinches of threads) plus an extra pinch for garnishing 2-3 sprigs of parsley olive oil, salt, pepper […]

Published: March 5, 2013 | Category: Food Spy
Where Food Spy ate: Osteria I Buongustai, Via dei Cerchi, 15, Florence. This tiny, teeming-with-locals eatery in downtown Florence is arguably the best lunch-time deal in town. Run by sisters Laura and Lucia, I Buongustai’s daily menu usually consists of four or five choices of primo: a few pasta dishes, a risotto, ribollita or pappa […]

Published: February 7, 2013 | Category: Strictly Tuscan
I learned of sage pesto from Judy Witts Francini, and I have to say, it was a revelation. Sage, being a hardy perennial, naturally produces far more leaves to work with than your annual basil plants. And where I live, sage plants thrive, growing to absurdly large sizes. This recipe is an excellent way to […]


Published: April 13, 2017 | Category: Culture Bites, Strictly Tuscan
While walking through Florence this morning, I happened to catch a snippet of conversation in front of a local bakery: ‘Yes, actually, the priest was here this morning to bless the bread’. Pausing, I noticed the tray of soft, round buns flecked with zibbibo raisins and rosemary sprigs, and remembered—today is Holy Thursday. And in […]

Published: May 18, 2016 | Category: Culture Bites
Schüttelbrot is a traditional bread of South Tyrol flavored with caraway seeds, coriander, fennel or aniseed, typically served with speck and cheese as an afternoon snack. This savory, crisp flatbread takes its name from the shaping method: after the dough rounds are rolled out and transferred to a baking sheet, the Bäckermeister literally shakes them […]

Published: March 9, 2014 | Category: All American
Yes, this recipe calls for lard. You want a perfect tortilla, don’t you? Then don’t be squeamish about the fat. Ingredients for 12 small tortillas 2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1-2 Tablespoons lard 3/4 cup tepid water Instructions Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingers to blend […]

Published: February 1, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
You will never spend two dollars on a coffee-shop scone again after tasting these homemade darlings. I make round scones using a water glass to cut the shapes, but if you prefer triangular scones, use a dough scraper to make the triangles. Ingredients 500 grams flour plus extra for working 125 grams sugar plus extra for […]

Published: January 25, 2014 | Category: Strictly Tuscan
Coccoli are dollops of deep-fried bread dough. When folks speak of Tuscan genius, I am pretty sure they are thinking of coccoli, and not, rather, anything related to art, science, or philosophy. Coccoli are typically served as an antipasto but can certainly pass as a full meal in themselves. Ingredients 200 grams (about 1 & 3/4 […]

Published: December 13, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites
Across the numerous, often ambiguous stories of Lucia, the virgin saint who rejected her suitor and gave her dowry to the poor, the one constant is her association with light. Although Sicilian and celebrated in Italy, Lucia is arguably most revered in Scandinavian countries, where today young women dressed in white will sing Lucia songs and […]

Published: November 1, 2013 | Category: Strictly Tuscan
Fettunta is a contraction of the Italian words fetta and unta, often (awkwardly) translated as ‘oily slice’ in English. Una fetta is indeed a slice of something—cake, bread, cheese, meat—and unta does in fact mean ‘oily.’ But I think we can do better. Fetta is related to the Italian verb affettare: to cut or to […]

Published: May 5, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
Pizza bianca, or pizza sans tomato sauce, is a favorite of my hubby’s and our Saturday night go-to meal. Start with a good pizza dough and top with your favorites: sausage or pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper, mozzarella, hot pepper flakes, minced garlic. Tips: Brush a little olive oil on the pizza before adding the […]


Published: March 14, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Holy moly were these good! And isn’t this a sly way to sneak some serious greens into your eating scene?  Use a mix of sausage and ground beef if you like. Ingredients for 6 small burgers 1 cup (about 200 grams) fresh spinach, blanched 9 ounces/little over ½ pound (250 grams) mild sausage ½ cup […]

Published: December 5, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites, French Connection, Italian for Beginners
Stews are not, as a rule, photogenic. This recipe from Carol Field’s Celebrating Italy* for fricandò all’Ivrea, however, is too good to hide away in a corner. So look away if you must, but believe me this ‘meat stew in the style of Ivrea,’ a town in Piedmont close to the border with Valle d’Aosta, […]

Published: October 29, 2013 | Category: All American, Marvels and Mishaps
If you’ve got a backyard rosemary plant, try these pretty, aromatic rosemary skewers in place of those run-of-the-mill steel or wooden varieties. Cut several long, sturdy stems and strip them of their green parts starting at the cut end, leaving a couple inches of green at the tip. Check for dust or little creatures, but […]

Published: September 8, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
The Roman classic with veal is delicious and deserving of its quirky name, yet I suspect that for most of us chicken is a more common meat choice than veal. If that’s true for you, try this easy chicken version. I won’t say it exceeds saltimbocca alla romana, but it sure gives it a run […]

Published: April 27, 2013 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
I hadn’t planned to blog about these stuffed peppers. The recipe was too improvised, born more of necessity than imagination, given the scarcity of ingredients in my fridge that day: a few sausage links, some peppers, eggs, the ever-present selection of cheeses, and a bag of wilting greens  destined for the compost bucket. In the […]

Published: March 16, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners, Marvels and Mishaps
This recipe comes courtesy of Giorgio Barchiesi, known to Italian foodies as Giorgione, whose Gambero Rosso-produced cooking program Giorgione, Orto e Cucina (‘garden and kitchen’) has garnered a large and loyal following here. Beloved by his fans for his simple, fresh dishes—mostly pasta, with sauces made from vegetables just-picked from his home garden in Umbria—Giorgione embodies […]


Published: June 29, 2015 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
What to do with a leftover tub of homemade red currant ice cream? Make ice cream cake, of course! When completely cooled, slice a round sponge cake / pan di spagna into two disks. Wedge the first disk into the bakery paper-lined cake pan and spread a layer of softened ice cream on top. Proceed with the […]

Published: June 23, 2015 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Every year around this time our red currant plant starts yielding absurd quantities of fruit—or at least too much for two people to keep up with. In the past week I’ve given away a couple bags full and have frozen about a kilo. I’m not really into marmalade (both the process of making it and […]

Published: June 6, 2015 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
To make this sorbet, I used the better part of two ripe cantaloupes. Place a large ceramic or tin bowl or pot in the freezer while you prep the sorbet. Roughly cube the flesh and place it in a food processor or blender. You can also use a hand-held wand mixer, in which case place […]

Published: July 2, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Depending on where you live, the early days of July could be late for fresh lavender, but if you happen to have any lovely purple buds still left on your plants, here’s a refreshing sorbet recipe to try. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add 10 to 12 lavender buds with about […]

Published: June 12, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Tangy, fresh, and almost embarrassingly easy to make, this red currant sorbet needs firstly super fresh and ripe currants, about 250 grams (one very full measuring cup). Clean them very carefully, especially the tiny stems. Place them in a bowl or tall container with 150 mls of water and 110 grams of regular sugar. Then […]

Published: February 1, 2014 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
You will never spend two dollars on a coffee-shop scone again after tasting these homemade darlings. I make round scones using a water glass to cut the shapes, but if you prefer triangular scones, use a dough scraper to make the triangles. Ingredients 500 grams flour plus extra for working 125 grams sugar plus extra for […]

Published: December 25, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
Not unlike the turducken or its charmless cousin the cthurkey, the Italian film genre known as cinepanettone brings together fine individual parts—cinema and panettone, in this case—that when united spawn a monstrosity. While on the whole I find Italians ‘do Christmas’ well, striking a reasonable balance of tradition, religion, family, and commercial madness, the intrusion of […]

Published: December 13, 2013 | Category: Culture Bites
Across the numerous, often ambiguous stories of Lucia, the virgin saint who rejected her suitor and gave her dowry to the poor, the one constant is her association with light. Although Sicilian and celebrated in Italy, Lucia is arguably most revered in Scandinavian countries, where today young women dressed in white will sing Lucia songs and […]

Published: March 2, 2013 | Category: Italian for Beginners
This is Jamie Oliver’s recipe, adapted from his lovely Jamie’s Italy. Ingredients 200 ml (7 ounces) sugar, plus more for dusting the frozen wedges 200 ml (7 ounces) water 200 ml (7 ounces) lemon juice zest of 1 lemon 1 heaping Tablespoon of mascarpone 2 additional lemons to make the frozen wedges Instructions Choose a container […]


Published: May 25, 2017 | Category: Culture Bites, Marvels and Mishaps
Gorse is a thorny evergreen shrub that thrives on Cornwall’s windswept moors, bathing vast stretches of the Cornish landscape in cheery yellow for much of the year. Also known as furze or whin, gorse plays an important role in area eco-systems, providing dense, protective cover for nesting birds. This abundant, resilient plant has been used […]

Published: May 4, 2016 | Category: Culture Bites, Italian for Beginners
The ‘Hugo’ (or Ugo, as our h-sound-challenged Italian friends pronounce it), sometimes called Hugo Spritz or Alpine Spritz, originated in the northern Italian region Alto-Adige, an area intimately familiar with herbal use in both culinary and medicinal matters, and one where the elderberry plant thrives in summer. From the genus Sambucus, elderberry is a hardy, fast-growing flowering bush […]

Published: December 30, 2015 | Category: Marvels and Mishaps
Ingredients for the cream 250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream 2 Tbls sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla extract zest of 1 orange per drink 3 parts Prosecco 2 parts fresh orange juice 1 part Schweppes tonic or similar Instructions Whip the cream with the orange zest, vanilla and sugar until thick and fluffy. You’ll have enough […]

Published: June 13, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites
Magalotti Brewery was in operation in the Umbrian town of Terni from 1845 to 1936. At the height of its production, it made ice and soft beverages in addition to beer, putting to use the natural spring waters abundant in the area. Magalotti was a thriving business in the old center of Terni, where today […]

Published: May 29, 2014 | Category: Culture Bites
You probably know Pecorino cheese, but do you know Pecorino wine? This ancient varietal takes its name from a legendary association with the pastoral traditions of the Piceni, the Italic peoples inhabiting the area named Picenum (Piceno) by the Romans, present-day Marche. During transhumance, shepherds observed that the mature grape was particularly appealing to their […]

Published: March 13, 2013 | Category: All American, Marvels and Mishaps
Why mess around with measurements? In a tumbler, mix a smidgen of horseradish, a few dashes of Tabasco, a pinch of pepper, and several squirts of fresh lemon juice. Fill the glass a few fingers high with tomato juice. Now ice. Now vodka. (Do what you will. No one is looking.) Stir well and garnish […]