Crostoli

crostoli

Buon martedì grasso! Welcome to the February edition of Cucina Conversations. Our posts are early this month since we are reprising the fun topic of carnevale which in Italy began on February 3rd and ends today, “Fat Tuesday”. For the past two weeks, the shiny bakery cases of pasticcerie (pastry shops) and forni (bakeries) across Italy have been filled with overflowing trays traditional carnevale sweets: castagnole di ricotta (ricotta fritters), frìtole veneziane (Venetian sweet fritters), bomboloni (doughnuts), fritelle di mele (apple fritters), and my personal favorites, crostoli (fried pastry ribbons). Crostoli have a special place in my heart and culinary memory because both my maternal nonna Liliana and paternal nonna Ada used to make these […]

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Artichoke Croquettes

artichoke croquettes

Benvenuti to the first Cucina Conversations post of the new year! This month, our topic is bread, specifically what Italians call pane raffermo (stale bread). To an inexperienced cook, the phrase “stale bread” can have negative connotations as it brings to mind hard-as-a-rock, inedible bread that is past its soft, crusty, chewy prime. But in the Italian kitchen, pane raffermo becomes a valuable ingredient that was born of the cucina povera (“cooking of the poor”), where no ingredient was wasted and less-desirable parts of animals and vegetables were creatively cooked into recipes that continue to thrive in homes and trattorie across the peninsula. Bread […]

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New Year, New Goals

The Side Dish

Buon anno, friends! Welcome to this year’s first The Side Dish post. It’s so nice being back in this space after a much-needed break. It’s also really nice being back home in our own living space after a not-so-wonderful trip to Italy. Ten days into our vacation, Peter and I both came down with head colds that knocked us flat, and we spent the last half of our trip holed up in our rental apartment doing our best to recover before our flight back to Houston. Despite the health setback, we did have some fun and memorable times in the Veneto and […]

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Struffoli

struffoli

Welcome to the December edition of Cucina Conversations! For our last post of the year, my fellow Cucina Conversations friends and I are reprising last year’s topic and sharing ricette di natale–Christmas recipes. The holiday season has been a flurry of activity for me since last month and I’ve neglected my small corner of the Internet (yet again), but I wasn’t about to end the year without sharing one more traditional Italian recipe with you! My contribution to this month’s theme is show-stopping struffoli. Struffoli originated in Napoli, the capital of the region of Campania, and dates back to the time […]

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Vegetable Plumcake

vegetable plumcake

I’m in love with the word plumcake. I came across it only in the last couple of years as I started to discover and read more Italian food blogs. It looks like it should be two words, but separating them would mean a cake made with plums which is delicious no doubt, but another thing entirely. In Italy, a plumcake (which Italians pronounce “ploom-cake”) typically refers to a sweet cake made in a loaf pan–what many of us refer to as a quick bread. But there is no rule that says a plumcake can’t be savory. They may not be as ubiquitous […]

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