Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

cranberry pistachio biscotti

This past weekend, Peter and I bought our Christmas tree and finished decorating our house for the holiday season. I also started my Christmas cookie baking. Every year, I send homemade cookies to a few family members and friends. I started this tradition several years ago and it’s my favorite activity during the Christmas season. I start planning and preparing in November–I print out my list of cookie recipients, buy cookie tins and shipping boxes, stock up on ingredients, and make my (ambitious) list of cookie recipes I want to bake. I like to bake different cookies every year to keep […]

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How to Make Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

cream cheese pastry dough

I’m back with one more “basics” post before the Thanksgiving festivities begin. Today, I’m showing you how to make cream cheese pastry dough. This is a great dough to start with if you are new to making dough from scratch because it comes together easily and is a dream to roll out. Cream cheese pastry dough was the first dough I learned how to make and it took me no time to master it. Like all butter pie dough, I like to make cream cheese pastry dough in the food processor because it comes together quickly, with just a few pulses and a […]

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How to Make Pumpkin Purée

pumpkin purée

We have arrived at this week’s last “basics” post. Today, I’m showing you how to make homemade pumpkin purée. I know this is not an Italian recipe, and I’m breaking my all-Italian-recipes “rule”, but around Thanksgiving, I start making many of my favorite, traditional American recipes.  Italians do eat many varieties of winter zucca (squash) which they use in velvety zuppe (soups) and fillings for ravioli, tortelli, and other stuffed pasta. I’m making a pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving dessert table this year, and I wanted to make my filling with fresh pumpkin. Homemade pumpkin purée couldn’t be easier to make. Sure, opening […]

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How to Make All Butter Pie Dough

basic pie dough

Welcome to this week’s second “basics” post! Not long ago, I decided to stop being intimidated by the idea of making all-butter pie dough and taught myself through (a lot of) trial and (even more) error. Pie dough is one of those recipes that strikes fear in the hearts of many home cooks and bakers. I can empathize; I’ve been there, too. I used store-bought pie dough for years and avoided making it from scratch like it was my job. But…I finally learned and that’s what’s important! I got help with technique from my mother-in-law, Eleanor, who has been making pie dough […]

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How to Make Chicken Stock

For the next three days, I will be posting one “basics” recipe per day in preparation for Thanksgiving. These are my favorite recipes to make ahead, freeze and have on hand as the holiday season approaches. Today we are starting with one of my favorite, indispensable freezer staples: chicken stock. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, having a batch of homemade chicken stock ready to use will make life that much easier when it’s time to get cooking. And the day after Thanksgiving, put the bones of that big turkey to good use and replenish your freezer with homemade turkey stock. Win-win! […]

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How to Make Béchamel Sauce

During the next few months, I’m planning on posting several recipes that will be tagged “basics”. I decided to break them out into separate posts in order to give you more specific guidance on how to learn them since they are recipes that are used repeatedly in Italian cooking. Today, we are starting with one of my favorite basic recipes, béchamel sauce. As you can see from the name, the origin of this sauce is French and is believed to have been invented by Auguste Escoffier. Italians call this sauce balsamella or besciamella, and it’s a component in dishes such as lasagne, pasticcio, crocchette (croquettes), timballo, baked […]

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