Basics: How to Make Amatriciana Pasta Sauce

Amatriciana Sauce

The origins of Amatriciana pasta sauce are drenched in debate. Most people claim the sauce originated in the town of Amatrice, located 60 miles northeast of Rome. In Rome, many chefs and home cooks claim the sauce is typical to the city’s cuisine and has nothing to do with the town of Amatrice. There are people who say the sauce should be called matriciana, suggesting a theory that it refers to a wild herb called matricale, which is questionable because most Italians agree that herbs have no place in the sauce. And that’s just the beginning of the controversy surrounding this […]

READ MORE

Basics: How to Make Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

A few years ago, I discovered a deep love for making dough from scratch. For years, the idea of making any kind of homemade dough intimidated me, until I finally got annoyed with myself, bought a few good baking cookbooks, and got to work in the kitchen. I couldn’t believe I wasted so much time being fearful. I’ve been making homemade dough ever since and I’m here to tell you that a.) it isn’t as hard as you think, and b.) it’s fun! I had a handful of fails along the way, but with consistent practice, I got more confident and […]

READ MORE

Marinated Fried Zucchini

Marinated Zucchini

I know it’s a little early to be posting a recipe using a summer ingredient, but I couldn’t help but get a head start on lighter recipes for the upcoming warmer weather (which will no doubt, be upon us very soon here in Texas). And, for as much as I try to keep my produce choices consistent with their growing season, after reading this article, I don’t feel so self-conscious about buying zucchini in February when I’m craving this dish. Marinated zucchini, which is more of a technique than a strict recipe, came to Rome in the late 1400’s, when Jews living in […]

READ MORE

Cherry Jam Crostata

Cherry Jam Crostata

Happy Valentine’s Day! When given the choice between a chocolate dessert and a fruit dessert, I’ll choose a fruit dessert every time. I like chocolate well enough, but I often find it heavy on my palate. On the other hand, I relish the bright, tart, and lightly sweet flavors of fruit-based desserts like this cherry jam crostata. When we were in Rome several years ago, I snapped this photo while walking past a pasticceria (pastry shop). As you can see, crostata is a popular dessert in Italy. Crostata is both simple and elegant in its presentation, and a dessert I grew up eating often. […]

READ MORE

How to Make Italian Sweet Pastry Dough

Pasta Frolla

For the first “basics” post of 2016, I’m introducing you to pasta frolla, an Italian sweet pastry dough. It is also known as shortcrust pastry. Pasta frolla is the base for many Italian desserts, especially crostata, a tart filled with fruit preserves or pastry cream (sometimes both), or even Nutella. Pasta frolla is also the dough of choice for pastiera napoletana, a traditional Italian Easter dessert, as well as delicate cookies that Italians call frollini. Once baked, pasta frolla is both tender and flaky, almost like shortbread, but less dense. The milk solids from the butter contribute not only to the texture of pasta frolla, but […]

READ MORE

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli

My paternal grandmother, Ada, used to make the best pasta e fagioli soup. I grew up hearing it pronounced more frequently as pasta e fasoi, since the Venetian dialect is what nonna Ada and nonno “Gigi” spoke with each other and their friends in their tiny village of Lovadina, where I spent most of my childhood summers. Nonna Ada was an urban homesteader long before the term was invented. She tended an enormous garden that ran the perimeter of a huge back yard. She grew a dizzying amount of vegetables, her plants prolific and her yields abundant. I wish I could remember if she grew the beans that went into her pasta e fagioli soup, or […]

READ MORE