Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It happened.  I went hunting for the absolutely necessary (yeah right) clear glass bowls for making a teaching video.  I found them at Target and Ross.  Now I am ready.  I have the recipe, the camera, and the bowls.  Now to find the time.  My guess is it would take most of one day.

You have to prepare the kitchen.  Not like typing a blog where you are in your PJs and drinking coffee, hair not combed.  No, one must be GROOMED!
The worst part is the kitchen.  One must clear the counters. Make it look like Giada's or Rachel's. Well those are sets. This is REAL life. But I can do it. I was an Art Teacher for 35 years. This is a breeze really after that part of my life. Everything in my life is remembered as before or after teaching. I used to think before or after marriage, but the passage of time has changed my perspective.

This week is good too. My current life as Nana, the babysitter is on break for a few days. I miss them already. One gets so attached to drooling hungry faces. Mediating fights over stuffed animals, blankets, preferred seating, and anything one boy gets first, the others want.
My first video will be on making biscotti. I make a lot of it and the yearly baking is going to start soon.

I sell it at church during the Advent Faire as my donation to the building fund. You can turn $40 worth of food into $500 pretty quick. After 3 years of this,  people come to the sale just to buy them.

Well, baking is not quick. It takes time and I prepare the night before to make at least 12 cups of flour into the delicious biscotti. I measure everything out for 3 batches. For each batch the dry ingredients go into one plastic bag. Sugar in its own bag since it is added to the butter.  Nuts, fruit, etc.. in a smaller one. Three bags per batch. It works well. The butter is set out to be room temperature in the morning.  Eggs stay in the frig.

I try to make just 3 separate batches of one recipe a day. That way I don't confuse the 5 different recipes. Past experience showed me the error of my ways. I cooked batches that only the family got to eat. So now I am more controlled.

A Youtube account will be set up just for this series. I haven't figured out a name yet. Probably "Italianfoodienana cooks". You will find a link to Youtube on this blog when I have completed this task.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


THE ART OF SICILIAN COOKING by Anna Muffoletto was written in 1971.  I happened to buy a copy and found lots of recipes I remembered from my mother's family.  I then bought more copies and sent them to cousins who liked to cook.  It may have been the first Sicilian cookbook published in the US.  I don't remember any others at that time. Now, there are 5 or more on the bookshelves of most bookstores.  My cousin used her copy to the point she had to put a rubberband around it to keep it together. Recently she lost it. She has grandchildren, enough said.

If you can find one online, buy it. You will not be disappointed. I don't even know if the author is still alive.  
I found the following information on line after much searching. 

Anna is an American of Sicilian parentage who taught gourmet cooking classes in New York City. A food consultant and educator, she has taught in New York schools and colleges, and has been employed as a commercial dietician by top food chains.  A Cordon Bleu graduate, she has also studied in major cooking schools around the world and has her own cooking school, the Cordon Bleu Cooking School of Gourmet Gallery.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Having a cold has its rewards. Just a normal one and I was feeling sorry for myself as we all do when we can't do the things we want. However, you can use a computer with little energy or watch a lot of TV. I did both. This cold gave me time to complete my list of cookbooks on the computer. Now they are all on but the big drawback is I don't know where to get a particular book quickly when I want it. I do have the "Italian" sorted from the miscellaneous but that is about it. So when I started to feel like I was going to live, I cleaned off some shelves and reorganized a little. It has helped. Here is my list of Italian titles.  Yes, that is a lot of titles.  I am aware of my obsession, thank you. This is only the Italian lists.  I have more.  I also have binders full of saved magazine recipes.  But lets not go there.

************ SICILIAN COOKBOOKS*************
A Little Sicilian Cookbook      Bitter Almonds       Ciao Sicily
Classic Sicilian Cooking     Cucina Amore      Cucina Paradiso
Cucinasiciliana       Eating in Sicily    Flavors of Italy, Sicily
Foods of Sicily; Sardinia and the Smaller Islands
La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio Tornabene
Mangi, LIttle Italy       Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen
Nick Stellino’s Passione     Papa Andrea’s Sicilian Table
Pomp and Sustenance      Salute!     Sicilian American Pasta
Sicilian Cookery  Sicilian Feasts      Sicilian Gentleman’s Cookbook
Sicilian Home Cooking     Sicilian Vegetarian Cooking
Southern Italian Cooking       Sweet Sicily
The Art of Sicilian Cooking      
The Best of Southern Italian cooking
The Flavors of Sicily      The Flavors of Southern Italy
The Food of Southern Italy  The Heart of Sicily    
The Sopranos Family Cookbook     Real Sicilian Cookery
Sicily, A way of Life in 50 Recipes       Simply Sicilian
The Extraordinary Cuisine of Josephine  

1000 Italian Recipes
A cook’s tour of Italy     A Taste of Lucca      
A Taste of Southern Italy      At Table in Italy    
Avventura     Baking Sensational Sweets with California Olive Oil
Baking with California Olive Oil       Biba’s Italy  
Biba’s Northern Italian Cooking      Biba’s Taste of Italy    
Biscotti      Bringing Italy Home       Bugialli on Pasta
Buonissimo!       CAI Italian Cookbook     Carbone’s Cookbook
Ciao Italia     Columbus Menu     Contadina Italian Cooking
Contorni      Cooking Rice with an Italian Accent
Cooking with California Olive Oil    Country Italian Cooking
Culinaria Italy   Da Silvano Cookbook       Eleanora’s Kitchen
Fast Italian  Father Orsini’s Italian Kitchen    Favorite Recipes    
Focaccia      From Biba’s Italian Kitchen        
From Nonnie’s Italian Kitchen     Giada’s Family dinners      
Gusto Italiano      Hot Italian Dish
Insalate: Authentic Italian Salads for all Seasons      Italian
Italian Catholic Federation Recipe Collection      Italian Cookery
Italian Country Cookbook     Italian Country Cooking
Italian Country Cooking      Italian Immigrant Cooking
Italian Regional Cooking     Italian Slow and Savory
Italian Vegetables     Italianissimo       Italy Al Dente
Italy The Beautiful Cookbook    
Johnny Ciao’s Koncert Kitchen     La Dolce Vita      
La Mia Cucina Toscana      Lidia’s Italian Table
Lorenza’s Anitpasti       Many Beautiful Things    
Masterclass in Italian Cooking
Modern Italian Cooking      Monterey’s Cookin’  
More Than Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook
Olives, Anchovies, and Capers       On Top of Spaghetti…
Passiane      Pasta Classica      Pasta Deck
Pasta Harvest      Pasta Pasta Pasta    
Preserving our Italian Heritage
Real Italian Food For People with Diabetes
Ricetti de La Famiglia DePalo       Roma    
Salse de Pomodoro      Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray    
Sweet Marie’s Biscotti Recipes
The Antipasto Table      The Best Italian Classics
The Classical cookbook      The de’Medici Kitchen
The Edible Italian Garden     The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy
The Heritage of Italian Cooking      The Italian American Cookbook
The Italian cooking Encyclopedia      The Italian Mama’s Kitchen
The Italian Pantry       The Maccioni Family Cookbook
The Mezzaluna Cookbook      The New Complete book of Pasta
The Pizza Gourmet     The Renaissance of Italian Cooking
The Seasons of Parmigiano-Reggiano      The Shared Table
The Silver Spoon      The Top One Hundred Italian Rice Dishes
Today’s Italian Touch from Progresso
Tom Valenti’s Soups, Stews, and One Port Meals  
Tony Casillo’s Family Cookbook
Trattoria Cooking      Treasures Italian  
Two Meathballs in the Italian Kitchen
Veneto      Verdure       What’s Cooking Italian

Thursday, September 24, 2009


She has published this recipe and allowed it to be used everywhere so enjoy if you have 4 to 6 hours to spend on dinner.  I have not made it yet. Its still too hot to have the oven on that long. This will be a challenge and I hope it turns out wonderful. When I make it, I will tell you the results.
From the Kitchen of Julia Child
Servings: 6
Difficulty: Difficult      Cook Time: Over 120 min
This recipe is adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" 
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into
 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

           (4 parsley sprigs, 
           one-half bay leaf, 
           one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)

1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.  Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). 
Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.  Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. (On her video, she cuts an X at the base of each onion so it doesn't burst. Hey, I watched her do it.  She does appear to know what she is talking about.)
Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated.

Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.  When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it.  Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.
Skim fat off sauce in saucepan.

Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. 
Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. 

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


These are wonderful.  You may want to increase spices to your taste.  


1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp  salt 
1 tsp  chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch cayenne

1 egg white
2 cups pecan halves
Preheat oven to 300°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Foil and the spray is also a good way to go.

Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl.
Beat the egg white with a fork in a bowl; toss in the pecans and stir to coat.
Sprinkle with the spice mixture and coat pecans.
Using your fingers, take out the pecans and transfer to a baking sheet, 
separating them.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes.
Then use another tray, place pecans and separate if needed; let cool completely.
They should last 5 days if covered and kept dry.

Mine were gone long before that.


What is this? Sfinciuni means "old woman's face" in Sicilian, probably because the finished bread looks wrinkled. The sfincione is flat soft bread with few condiments. It smells of fresh bread, onions, tomato, anchovies, cheese and toasted breadcrumbs. It goes back in time to before the Greeks controlled Sicily. The sfincione was plain bread that working people would take to work. One of my favorite things. I could eat an entire pan of it by myself. Pizza does not come even close to this flavor so don't think it will.

Bagheria Style is considered the sfincione more similar to the original recipe. It is made with olive oil, anchovies, primosale, a fresh cheese and breadcrumbs mixed with grated pecorino, chopped scallions and oregano. 

Sfincione alla Palermitana  for one.
Mix country white for the bread machine.  Use the 120 minute dough cycle.  As soon as it is mixed and goes off, take out the dough and work it  for a minute on a floored  board.  (Or make your own pizza dough)
Oil bowl. Place the dough in it. Turn so the oil side is up. Cover with wet cloth. Place in warm place.  (Oven with light on.)  Wait till it doubles.  (1 hour?) Push down. Take out and place on OILED oblong cake pan. Spread. Cover with wet cloth. Let rise again. When it is doubled again, it is ready for the sauce and topping.   
Preheat over to 425. 
Sauté for 3 minutes to 5 minutes.
            2 to 4 T   olive oil
            1    large onion, chopped small
Add      1   can    anchovies, broken up  (paste is okay)
            4      large  ripe tomatoes, skinned, chopped, seeded
         1/4  cup   parsley, minced  ( or less.)
            1  T      oregano
          1/2  t      salt
Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.   

Cool it for several minutes.
Spread sauce over dough.  

NOTE:  If your fresh roma tomatoes were not so good like mine were today, you can add a big tablespoon of tomato paste.  Tomato sauce will work too.  There should be a mild red color in the topping.  Not like a real tomato sauce.
Use a spoon so you dont compress the raised dough. 
Gently place spoonfuls around the dough.  
Take care not to put too much oil on it.
1/2 cup         Italian bread crumbs 

( I use them.)  or grated cheese,or BOTH.
Olive oil       A few tablespoons. 
(anchovies come in it usually)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Spread evenly over dough on top of the chopped tomatoes etc….

Bake for 19 minutes at 425 degrees.     Check at 17 minutes. 
Serve hot.   

Pan photo before adding breadcrumbs.
Then last one of baked bread.            

Serves:    6  

Monday, September 14, 2009

SOUPS - Fall is the time for Soup

CREAM OF LETTUCE SOUP. Simple and classic.
      3     cans of chicken broth
      1     potato, peeled, diced
      1     head of Romaine lettuce broken up
      3 T.  butter ( this is your only fat)
Cook together until tender. Approx. 25 minutes.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (Or cream if you are skinny)

Cool soup and puree it in a blender.

Salt and pepper to taste. I used none. The broth has enough salt.

Stir and reheat to serve. Do not boil again.

VARIATIONS: Replace the lettuce with another vegetable.
This is a great basic soup which will impress your friends.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I want to start a list of foods you would like to make and eat before you die.  Does that sound strange?  Well, it beats skydiving.  That would not be on my list.
Any ideas out there?  Looking for feedback.  And maybe a recipe from you?
       1.  Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon 
             I  saw the video of her doing this Saturday.  Looks pretty simple.  Going to make it this winter for sure.
     2.  Paella 
     3.  ????


After doing the post on the China cap sieve below this post, I thought of my favorite blade and I wondered since this site is about Italian food, if I should mention another tool that I love. The mezzaluna is a single or double curved blade with a handle. Mezzaluna means "half moon" in Italian.  Usually sold with a wooden block that has a lowered center shaped like the blade and its used for chopping herbs. Rosemary works so well with this blade. Big blades are used on pizzas.  I use mine a lot. The depression in the wood block keeps the herbs together. Much better than using a straight blade on a cutting board. I find deals on these items in the local discount stores. You know the ones where we wander in at least every two weeks.  R , M, and TJ.  My favorite three.

Recipe corrections and a new find in Mariposa

I am so happy to get comments from readers who see the holes in my descriptions. Thanks Arlene.  I, of course, can't see them since I write the recipes and think I have done a great job.

I have corrected or improved the goat cheese torta.  Hope that helps you.  I will do a photo when I make it again. I do all my own photos unless I am in the photo which happened at Doug's house party so he deserves the  credit.  I use my own dishes and my kitchen table.  A homey touch I think. I am not Giada but then when I was 27, I looked pretty hot.  But alas, that was many moons ago.

Today I was up in Coarsegold and Mariposa where they have really nice junk stores.  I found a great sieve which I knew was used for fruits etc,,, but had no idea what it was called.  I went surfing and found my answer on Amazon.  I just love that site.  You would think Mark Harmon knocked on my door in his boxers.  He didn't, but its a darn good idea. I will have to live with watching him and Tony on NCIS.  My favorite show.  It knocked the Food network into No. 2 position at my house.

I digress.  This is a blog so I can do that.

Back to the sieve. Its a China cap or a fine chinois for general straining.  I still am not sure.  Did you know what that was?  DON'T LIE TO THE BLOG.  Its news to me anyway. It has fine holes and its a cone shape. It hooks on the side of a pot. It needs a pestle which was not with it when I bought it for $3.  It was a deal!  I wonder if I will use it. I use my food grinder a lot.  So maybe I will. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Saturday at Home

Labor day weekend.  What am I doing?  Gardening.  Almost finished my backyard. What a job.
Made a lot of my fresh tomato sauce for the winter.  May buy more lugs of tomatoes and make more if I have the time. Just completed going through 6 months of Cooking light.  They have changed their layout and its much cleaner looking and easier to cut out a recipe to save. I added them to my list of websites for your convenience.

Do check out my list of top cooking websites.  And leave a comment after any posts you like so I know you are out there. This is a new blog and I am happy to have you here. Today I will have had over 500 readers.

LIfe goes on and I am busy.  I saw Tom Jones at a local casino. He was just amazing.  I am looking forward to seeing Wicked in San Francisco. Retirement is not boring at all. Things keep coming up and your calendar gets full. I think I will hang around for another 20 years or more.
I have lots of great recipes to post. My bread pudding will be one of them. I am going to try it with the Italian Panettone soon.

Then my recipe for your Thanksgiving turkey which I did by accident last year.  Wow. It was a fantastic accident.

I would love to hear from you.  I have readers from around the world.  That really surprised me.