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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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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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Pesto Abruzzese

Pesto Abruzzese

Welcome to the October installment of Cucina Conversations! This month, we are talking about one of my favorite topics: preserving. I am still very much a canning and preserving newbie and have not yet ventured far into the endeavor, but the little I’ve done had me hooked from the start. The very first canning recipe I made was this beautiful and delicious Tropea onion jam from Domeinca Marchetti’s most recent cookbook, Preserving Italy. I returned straight back to Domenica’s lovely cookbook to make my contribution for this month’s recipe, pesto abruzzese. Preserving gets the spotlight mostly during the spring and summer months, […]

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Asiago Cheese Crackers

asiago cheese crackers

Crackers are my snack weakness. I never have less than three (or four) different kinds in my pantry. And while I limit buying and eating processed foods, I make an exception for store-bought crackers. I just love them too much. And let’s face it, they’re convenient to have around. Store-bought crackers are great as the trusted saviors of many a dinner party appetizer, but homemade crackers are special. I don’t try my baking hand at them nearly enough which is a shame because they’re so easy and fun to make. After seeing these on Marilena Leavitt’s Instagram feed a few weeks ago, […]

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