Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pasta Fagioli Recipe - Excellent on a cold winter day.

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli is one of those recipes that is so very easy to make, yet tastes so delicious.     For those of you that don’t know, this is a tomato based soup with white Italian kidney beans and pasta that is so wonderful, especially on a cold winter’s day.  It is funny when some folks say Pasta Fazool!  Hey Prince, got any more of that Pasta Fazool?   Well, Pasta Fagioli may be fun to say, but it tastes good any way you say it.

Pasta Fagioli
Doesn't this look good!   Pasta Fagioli - Yum!

Pasta Fagioli soup is so easy to make, I hope you give it a try.


  • 1 large can (29 oz)  of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of water (use tomato sauce can to measure water)
  • 1 large can (19 oz) of Cannellini beans, drained
  • ½ Yellow Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tsp dried basil
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Ditalini Pasta
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top of the soup.

Directions for
Pasta Fagioli

  • In a large saucepan, sauté the diced onions in the olive oil until translucent.
  • Add garlic to the saucepan and continue to sauté for about 3 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour the tomato sauce and Cannellini beans into the sauce pan with the onion and garlic.  
  • Fill the empty sauce can with water and add it to the sauce pan.
  • Add the spices, salt and pepper to the soup and stir well.
  • Cover the sauce pot and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • In another pot, cook the Ditalini pasta according to the directions on the box.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • In a serving bowl, place a serving of pasta.   Then, ladle some of the soup from the saucepan on top of the pasta.  

You may wish to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top of the
Pasta Fagioli soup.

Enjoy this Italian
Pasta Fagioli soup with a piece of Italian bread on the side.    Pasta Fagioli is a favorite among many Italian folks around the world.   You too, will fall in love with this incredibly simple Italian recipe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Antipasto Platter - This Italian Appetizer is Great for Parties!

Antipasto Recipe

Super Bowl time is coming.  What could be better than Italian appetizers. The next few posts will be ideas for a Super Bowl party.  What can be better for any Super Bowl party then Antipasto?  

Antipasto is an Italian word that translates to “Before Pasta”, but I translate it to Before Dinner.   A more common term is hors d'oeuvres, in French, or appetizers.  

Antipasto Platter!   Excellent for your Super Bowl Party.
Antipasto Platter!   Excellent for your Super Bowl Party.

Antipasto is served at most Italian family get togethers!   Many cultures have similar style appetizers.   You can choose whatever ingredients you desire…   All of your favorites.   What I present here is guidelines.   Please feel free to adapt any way you wish.

I am not going to specify amounts of each item.   Use your best judgment, based off of the amount of people you wish to feed.

Ingredients For
Antipasto Recipe

  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Pancetta, very thin sliced
  • Prosciutto, very thin sliced
  • Provolone cheese, cubed
  • Fresh Mozzarella Balls
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts 
  • Marinated Mushrooms
  • Assorted Olives that have been pitted
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Lettuces ( Romaine,  Red Leaf, Ice Berg )
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Broccoli Flowerets and other similar veggies
  • Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

For Antipasto Recipe

  • Wash vegetables well and allow them to dry completely.
  • Cover a large serving platter with a layer of Lettuce Leaves.
  • Place a bowl in the middle and place the Marinated Mushrooms, Artichokes Hearts, Roasted Peppers and Olives, separated from each other in the bowl.
  • Around the bowl, place the cheeses, each in their own section.
  • Around the cheeses, place the sliced meats, each in their own section.   I roll all of the meats.
  • Place broccoli, grape tomatoes and any other veggies each in their own section.
  • Chop up the lettuce and place in a large serving bowl next to the platter.
  • Some folks drizzle a little dressing all over everything on the platter.   I prefer to place it on the side so that guests can control how much dressing is used….   Use your best judgment.
  • Stand back and admire the wonderful platter you created.
There you have it, a really nice antipasto platter that you made yourself.   Adapt it any way you want…. Do you like Roast Beef?  Do you like hot peppers? No problem!  This is YOUR antipasto!    Any way you want it, that’s the way to make it.

I hope you enjoyed this Antipasto platter.  Please check back for more italian appetizers recipes!   I will be posting several Super Bowl friendly Italian specialties in the very near future.    I hope these authentic Italian Recipes make your Super Bowl part a night to remember!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shrimp Scampi - Doesn't everyone love this dish?

This shrimp scampi recipe is excellent, served as a main dish, or appetizer. It is delicious, especially when served hot, immediately after making. As such, great care should be employed as to timing, so that the Shrimp Scampi is ready when you wish to serve it.

As with all seafood, be sure to get the freshest and best quality you can buy. This makes a huge difference in the outcome of your culinary masterpiece.

Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp Scampi over Pasta.  Doesn't everyone love this?


  • 21 Large Shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 5 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Juice of ½ Lemon, squeezed
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Salt to taste


Melt the butter in a large skillet using medium -low heat.

Add the olive oil and garlic. Stir while the garlic sautés in the butter and olive oil. Sauté the garlic until it is golden, but not browned.

Add the wine to the garlic.

Raise the heat and add the shrimp. You can always add more. It should take about 3 minutes to fully cook the shrimp, but make sure you flip the shrimp mid way in the cooking process. The shrimp will turn pink.

Add salt to your tastes. If you used unsalted butter, you may want to add a little more, but remember, you can easily add salt… You can’t easily take too much salt away.

Add the lemon juice and parsley. Stir and cook for an additional minute or two

Serve with the lemon wedges.

Shrimp Scampi is usually served with some linguini or rice. Add a side salad and a glass of wine! You’ll have an excellent meal that will melt in your mouth.

I hope you enjoyed this Italian recipe. As you are starting to see, following my blog, that I prefer to do things simply. Most of the time, less is more.

Thanks for reading! Stay posted for more Italian Recipes!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sesame Biscotti - Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

Italian Sesame Cookies

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
These are an Italian Classic!   Sesame Seed Biscotti

These Italian Sesame Seed Biscotti cookies are very popular not only in bakeries in Sicily, but also among Sicilian families in New York.  My mom used to make these Italian Sesame Seed cookies all the time, but they were especially made for the holidays, birthdays or other larger family gatherings.  They were softer than the hard biscotti, and easier for a kid to eat.   

I used to love these Italian Sesame Cookies as a child.    The toasted sesame seeds and real butter her are essential to making this cookie as good as it could be.   Don’t use Crisco.   Many folks use shortening, but in my opinion, that totally ruins it.   I make
these Italian sesame cookies with organic butter, and I swear I can tell the difference blind folded. 

For Italian Sesame Cookies

•    4 cups flour
•    2 sticks butter, softened
•    1 cup sugar
•    2 eggs
•    ½ cup of Milk
•    2 cups sesame seeds
•    3 ½ tsp baking powder
•    ½ tsp salt
•    1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
•    1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions For 
Italian Sesame Cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat.   They will start to darken a little in color, but the taste will dramatically improve.    When toasted, place the seeds in a shallow plate to cool.
  • In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder sugar and salt. Set aside
  • In a mixer cream the butter.   Then, mix in the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix in the mixer until a well blended cookie dough is formed.
  • Separate the dough into 1 ½ inch balls.    Take each ball and shape it into a log like cookie, about 2 ½ inch long.
  • Pour the milk into a shallow bowl.    Dip each cookie first in the milk. Then, roll it in the toasted sesame seeds.
  • Place each Italian sesame cookie on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, about an inch or so apart.   Slightly flatten each cookie when placing it on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the cookies to be.   The cookies should be well browned.
  • Remove from oven and let sit on pan about 5 minutes.   Then, transfer each sesame cookie to a rack to completely cool.
I hope you have enjoyed this recipe for the very classic these Italian sesame cookies!   Desserts are fun, aren’t they!  Please feel free to subscribe to my blog for more amazing Italian home cooking.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fondue - Cheesy, Yummy, What's not to like?

Although fondue is not an Italian dish, it is too delicious not to post.  And although it is not Italian, nothing is stopping me from making it and using cubed Italian Ciabatta to dip into it, while drinking a nice Italian red wine.  

So, I would say that qualifies it to be part of my blog...

Fondue Pot
Fondue is not only fun to eat, but it makes for a romantic evening
The other night, I made probably one of the best fondue dinners I ever made.   Of course, I made some Ciabatta (see recipe) to go with it.   But you can dip a variety of things in it to make a wonderful evening.  I will share with you exactly how I made it, but you can adapt it to your needs.

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups White Wine ( I used Riesling ), or beer
  • 12 - 16 oz ( 2 packages ) shredded cheese ( Mexican blend or cheddar jack) DO NOT GET LIGHT or FAT FREE CHEESES!!!!!!
  • Stuff for dipping (Cubed and toasted Italian Bread, little hot dogs, broccoli and cauliflower, etc...   
  • Someone you love to share this dinner with.

  • In a small pot, heat up the olive oil and saute the garlic, being careful not to burn it.
  •  After the garlic is browned, add the wine or beer.    It will sizzle.
  • Add some of the shredded cheese, slowly while stirring. Allow it to melt.   
  • Add more cheese slowly, until you achieve the consistency that you like.  Some folks like it thinner, others thicker.   This is all about you!  Make it your way!  Make sure you continue to stir, so that it doesn't burn on the bottom.
At this point I transfer to a little crock pot in the center of my table.   I used to not have a crock pot, so I would have to constantly get up and re-heat the cheese.   Having the crock pot is wonderful, because you can just relax and enjoy your dinner.

The crock pot I bought came with a smaller crock pot called the Little Dipper.

The Little Dipper is perfect for this.  Your cheese doesn't burn, but I suggest that you will have to first melt it in a pot on your stove and transfer it to this baby sized crock pot.

So, now it is up to you to pull the cork from a nice bottle of red wine, which is exactly what I did, and enjoy with your sweetie. Play some soft music, dim the lights and enjoy life!

Ciabatta - Eating Grandma's Slipper!

Would you eat Grandma’s Slipper? Ehhh, you might! Ciabatta is an Italian bread that is named after grandma’s slipper, as it resembles that shape. Ciabatta has an unmistakable flavor and texture. It has a soft and very airy crumb, and a thin, yet crispy crust. Being so soft, this is an excellent bread for those who cannot tolerate very crunchy breads due to dental issues. Yet, it is absolutely delicious, and satisfies the desire for an artisan style bread.

Hot Ciabatta Rolls, fresh out of the oven
Ciabatta Rolls, Hot Out Of The Oven

Although Ciabatta is traditionally made in large loaves, I sometimes choose to make it into several smaller rolls, that would be fine for sandwiches. The process is pretty much the same. Traditionally, this is made with a starter, similar to sour dough, and then kneaded with a mixer. Mixing by hand is difficult, due to the dough being sticky. This used to be a pretty complicated bread to make. Not anymore! Today’s recipe is different from the way I have made it in the past.

Why is it different? Because it is absolutely easier to make, the results come out better and I am so thrilled to bring this to you, because anyone can do this… The reason for this is that it is a no knead recipe!

Here is what you will need:


• 5 cups all purpose flour

• ½ cup either whole wheat or semolina flour (for texture)

• 1 packet active dry yeast

• 1 Tbsp sugar

• 1 Tbsp sea salt

• 4 Tbsp Olive Oil

• 2 ½ cups warm water

• Corn Meal for sprinkling


Put warm water into a bowl and dissolve sugar in the water

Add the yeast and stir. Let it sit about 15 minutes. It should look a bit foamy.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir. If may first seem to wet and then too dry. Keep stirring. What you are looking for is a very wet dough. If it seems too dry, add a little warm water and stir it in.

After you have stirred, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the ciabatta dough sit for about 6 hours at room temperature. Then put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, take the covered bowl of ciabatta dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit out at room temperature for another 6 hours.

By now, the ciabatta dough should look a like a very elastic, soft and bubbly dough. Generously flour a work surface and transfer the dough onto a work surface. Gently shape the dough into a long loaf.  I use a pastry board for the surface, to minimize the mess.

Ciabatta Bread Dough
Ciabatta Bread - Kind of looks like a large slipper

Place some parchment paper on a pan and then sprinkle some corn meal on top of the parchment paper.

If making rolls, cut the long loaf into six equal pieces. You will have to flour your hands when working with this ciabatta dough, as it is very soft and sticky. Roughly shape into rolls, as pictured and transfer to the pan with parchment paper, spacing the rolls out. You will have to reshape the rolls on the pan, due to the dough being so soft.

Ciabatta dough cut into six rolls
Ciabatta dough cut into six rolls

If making a single large ciabatta loaf, just transfer to the pan. Some people roll the ciabatta loaf onto some plastic wrap, then use the plastic wrap to transport the loaf to the pan. Then, they flip it over onto the pan and re-shape it once on the baking pan.

Now, I sprinkle the tops of the loaf or rolls with corn meal. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it sit to rise for 2 and a half hours. I sprinkle the top of the ciabatta, so that the plastic wrap does not stick to each loaf. If you can cover the loaves so that the wrap doesn’t touch the loaves, all the better.

The loaves will approximately double in size. They may look wider, but not much taller, that is ok.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake on the middle rack for about 35 minutes. Your house will smell amazing.

Remove and let cool. I usually can’t wait for it to cool, so I will eat some ciabatta hot with some butter.

As a variation to this basic ciabatta recipe, you can make some of the roasted garlic from the recipe I posted and when you form the loaf, you can put the roasted garlic into it, by first flattening you ciabatta dough, placing the roasted garlic on top, then forming the loaf as if making a jelly roll. The surface will need to be well floured, as this is sticky dough.

Another variation is to brush the tops of the dough gently before baking with olive oil. Then, grind a little sea salt on top before baking.

I hope you enjoyed this Italian recipe and give it a try. Please don’t be intimidated by baking bread. Bread baking takes time to make, but it is easy. The beauty of the no knead method is that the time you are ACTIVELY spending to make the dough is very minimized. Most of the time spent with this method is the ciabatta dough just sitting there, while you are doing something else. If you want to make it even better, let it sit two or four days in the refrigerator, instead of overnight. I usually can’t wait that long.

Enjoy this Italian bread! A nice glass of wine next to it is always a good idea!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Brussels Sprouts - Simple, Easy and Delicious... If you cook them right!

Brussels Sprouts.   As a child, the mere mention of this would make you cringe.  Was there anything more disgusting?   Well, that is what I always thought….  

.. Until someone I know told me they had a great way to make Brussels Sprouts .    I didn’t believe him, but I reluctantly gave it a try….   And I was AMAZED!  Who would have thought that these vegetables that I used to despise could taste so good?

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts are not only good for you....
They also taste GREAT!
( So long as you don't over cook them )

After some reflecting, I figured out why they didn't taste good to me as a kid.   I discovered this when I went to Whole Foods Market and got Grilled Brussels Sprouts and they were as nasty as I remembered.   So, what made the ones I made different than the ones I got at Whole Foods?

The secret is so obvious.    Over cooking.    Same thing with broccoli or string beans.    When you cook the vegetable to the point it is olive green, you just ruined it.   Brussels Sprouts are no exception.

So, this is what I do now, based off of the advice from a friend, to make amazing Brussels Sprouts.


  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil


  • Slice the sprouts length wise in half.
  • Place on a baking sheet flat side up and drizzle Olive Oil on top of each sprout.
  • Sprinkle each sprout with Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic and sea salt.
  • Bake in the oven 350 degrees for 20 minutes to a half hour.   They may look toasty or charred a little.
  • Remove and enjoy!
That’s it!    Simple is best!

I promise you, if you give this a try, you will absolutely change your mind about this wonderful side to your meal!   Not to mention the health benefits of eating Brussels sprouts….


Monday, January 7, 2013

Artisan Bread Recipe with NO KNEADING! - Really!

Artisan Italian Bread – No Kneading!

No Knead Artisan Italian Breads
These breads have a crispy crust, yet have a soft and flavorful crumb.


I have always loved hot baked breads.   It is something I have been passionate about for just about my entire life.   Baking breads has been something I have studied for over two decades.  Bread baking for me has evolved from kneading by hand, to bread machine, to finally getting a Kitchen Aid mixer.   I still use my bread machine and mixer, although I hardly ever knead by hand anymore.

So, the other day, I was looking on researching on YouTube, and I saw several people mention no knead bread.   I thought to myself, this has got to be a joke.   Everyone knows you have to knead the bread to develop the gluten, in order to get an amazing crust.    I have invested a small fortune in bread baking books to learn how to make bread.   And I do make really wonderful breads and pizzas…   But, no kneading?  That is just crazy talk!   …. Or is it?

So, I looked at a few recipes and saw what many had in common, which was the dough is mixed with a spoon until it is evenly mixed, but not kneaded.   In addition, the dough is wetter than usual.   So, I decided to do a little experiment.   I didn’t want to waste a lot of ingredients, so I didn’t go with one of the recipes I saw that requires a lot of flour, but I borrowed some of the guidelines, and adapted one of my own doughs…

The result was one of the best breads I ever baked!   I went from “This couldn’t possibly work” to “This is amazing and going to change everything.” You don't need anything but a large container or bowl, and a spoon!  With next to no effort, you can bake an amazing crusty bread!

So I am now going to share with you exactly what I did to bake my no-knead bread recipe.

This is what I used:


•    3 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour – I used King Arthur Organic Flour
•    1 ½ cups warm water
•    1 Tbsp organic sugar
•    1 Tbsp sea salt
•    1 packet of active dry yeast – I used SAF

That’s it!

So, what did I do? 


  • Put water in bowl and dissolve sugar in water
  • Add yeast to water and stir.
  • Add salt to water and stir.
  • Add flour and stir, until everything was evenly and thoroughly wet.   If flour wasn’t wet enough, I added a little water.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and wait for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, put in refrigerator overnight.

Next day, I baked the bread.

  • Dust top of wet dough with a little flour.
  • Grab with hand and take out about a large orange size of dough.    If you want to make several loaves, you can make as many as you want.   If you want to make only one, re-cover the unused dough and return it to the refrigerator.
  • Shape into a ball with as little handling as possible and place on a flour covered pan.
  • Let rest and rise for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Arrange the oven racks with one on the bottom and one in the middle.   You will bake on the middle rack.   Place an empty non-glass pan ( I used a pizza pan ) on the bottom rack and preheat the empty pan!
  • After the oven has pre-heated, slash the top of the bread a few times with a sharp knife.
  • Place bread in oven on the center rack.    Immediately pour a cup or so of hot water on the empty pan on the bottom rack.   This will create a lot of steam, so be careful.    The idea here is that you want the extra steam when you bake the bread.  This will make the crispy outer crust.
  • Close the oven door immediately to keep the steam from escaping the oven.
  • Bake for about a half hour to 40 minutes.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool.

That’s it!   From what I understand, you can use the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.   The longer you let it age, the more it will develop character, and perhaps take on sour dough characteristic.

This is so easy an takes so little effort.   Imagine your friends and family’s amazement when they learn that you made your own bread!   And that it tastes this great!

No Knead Bread Recipes – This truly defies everything I ever learned in the past about bread baking.  Yet the results are fantastic.   From what I see, the folks on YouTube have referenced a book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.   After my experiment, I am definitely going to buy that book and see what else I can learn.    Just goes to show you, you can always learn something new.

So, please give this one a try!   I hear from so many people, “You just can’t get good crusty bread out side of NY!”   Really?   I am not so sure.   I don’t see why this wouldn’t work for anyone, anywhere.   People say it is the water where they live.   If you think your water is bad for baking, try this with spring water.

And please, let me know about your results.   Post your comments here.    I will continue to share my experiences with this new style of baking and hope to bake a ciabatta next time.    Until next time, I hope you enjoy my Italian recipes.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Filet Mignon ala Rosso

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to make Filet Mignon.  This cut of steak melts in your mouth, with its distinctive flavor.


  • 4 Filet Mignon steaks, about 1 inch thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 minced shallots
  • 5 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Chianti 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the steaks in a large Ziploc bag with 1/2 cup of wine,  1/4 cup of Olive Oil and the minced garlic.   Marinate in your refrigerator at least 2 hours.  Over night is preferred.

When you are ready to cook, remove steaks from refrigerator about a half hour prior to cooking.

  • In a skillet, melt 2 tsp of butter and heat with the remaining oil.
  • Place the steaks in the skillet.   Cook about 2 minutes per side, for rare.
  • Place on plate and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour most, but not all of the fat out of the pan. Add the shallots.
  • After cooking for about a minute, add the rest of the wine. Remove the pan from the burner when doing this! Be careful when adding the wine, so that if it flames, you don't get burned.
  • Cook, while the wine reduces and thickens a little. You can scrape the pan to get some of the flavor from the steak. 
  • Melt in the remaining butter.
  • Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.

I usually serve this with some mashed or baked potato on the side and some broccoli saute with garlic.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Filet Mignon.  Please let me know how you like it. 

Grandma Pizza Recipe

Grandma Pizza Recipe – NY Style!

Italian Grandma Pizza
There is nothing quite like Grandma's Pizza

Ah, the smell of Grandma's Pizza baking!   There is nothing like it. Grandma pie is one of my very most favorite pizzas. A Grandma Style Pizza is kind of like a margarita pizza, on a crust that is similar to but not quite Sicilian pizza. 

The Sicilian pizza crust is thicker. The grandma pizza crust is not as thin as Sicilian pizza, but thicker than the standard Neapolitan pizza. This Grandma Pizza Recipe is topped with pieces of fresh Basil, so in a way it is a Basil Pizza, as well.

Many here in New York say that once you have a Grandma Pizza, you will not want the ordinary pizza again. That may actually be a true statement, but I haven’t met a pizza in NY that I don’t like. None the less, a New York Grandma Style Pizza is most probably my very most favorite.

The aroma of a Grandma Style Pizza cooking brings back memories of long ago, when my Grandmother used to make this pizza in our small oven, when I was a small child.  In this post, I am going to share with you my grandmother's pizza recipe as she taught it to me.  In fact, this grandma style pizza recipe was in my family as long as I could remember.   We just simply called it pizza. 

In order to make this Grandma Pizza Recipe, you would use a rectangular pan, similar to Sicilian Pizza. You can order one here.

Part of the secret of making Grandma Pizza is that the dough is oiled underneath, so that it kind of gets fried when it is baking. Also, fresh mozzarella is key here. Not the shredded, or block, but the ball that usually comes in water. If you can get buffalo milk fresh mozzarella for your Grandma Pizza, all the better.

In addition, in my opinion, lots of either fresh or roasted garlic and fresh basil is mandatory for traditional Grandma Pizza Recipes. Some places make this without garlic! Some without basil! That is entirely wrong, and those folks should be ashamed of themselves. Really!

A note on the basil: Dried basil and fresh basil taste entirely different. Be sure when you buy basil, do not refrigerate it, as it will turn black. Now, I grow my own basil using organic growing methods. It is easy to grow, and grows well next to tomatoes. They are kind of like friends. But, this is what you can do, so that that fresh basil taste is available to you all year. Pick off the leaves and wash well. Layer the basil in wax paper and freeze it. When making this Grandma Pizza, you can take out the frozen basil leaves and crumple them on top before cooking.

If you like,you can watch my..

How To Make Grandma Pizza Video


So, with that said, here is my...

Authentic Grandma Pizza Recipe


All of these ingredients are to taste, and dependent on the size of your Grandma pizza, use your best judgement.

• Pizza dough ( See my recipe )

• Fresh Mozzarella, sliced into medallions

• Plum tomatoes, skinned. Organic Tomatoes Make A HUGE Difference!

• Garlic, either fresh or roasted, chopped. The more the merrier!

• Dried oregano - Only a little bit

• Lots of Fresh Basil

• Olive Oil, the best you can find

• Sea Salt

Directions To Prepare This Grandma Pizza

Preheat your oven to 450 Degree.  If you have a pizza stone, which I recommend, place it in your oven.  If you want to buy one, you can get one here:


Place your tomatoes in a strainer and drain them for at least a half hour.  You want to remove as much of the moisture as you can from the tomatoes.   Moisture will make your Grandma Pizza soggy, which is what you don't want.  Be sure to strain as much of the Tomato Water off as you can.

Oil your pan with a quality olive oil. Press the pizza dough into the pan so that it is all the way to the edges and up the sides.  Traditionally, Grandma Pizza is made in a square or rectangle shape.   If all you have is a round pan, you can use that, but it may resemble a deep dish pizza, instead of a Grandma Pizza Pie.

Pizza Dough pressed out to edge in pan
Dough pressed out to the edges

Place your mozzarella on top evenly across the top of your Grandma Pizza. Your pizza pie should look like this now.

Cheese placed on Pizza Dough
Cheese placed on top of dough

Sprinkle a generous amount of garlic and a small amount of dried oregano over top of pizza.   I prefer just a little oregano on a grandma pizza.   While you can use as much as you want, it is my opinion that some restaurants use entirely too much.

After you have put the garlic, cheese and oregano on your grandma pizza, it is time to top the pizza with tomatoes.  In many standard pizzas, the tomato sauce is under the cheese.  In a grandma pizza, the cheese is put on the pizza first.

Squeeze the tomatoes by hand to crush them, and squeeze out additional water. Place the crushed tomatoes on top of the grandma pizza.

Sprinkle sea salt to taste.   I think it is important to determine how salty your cheese is.  Hopefully you tasted it.   Who can resist?   Sprinkle what you think is right on your grandma pizza, remembering that less is more.  You can always add more later.

Add the fresh or frozen basil on top of the pizza.  Alternatively, you may opt to add the basil to the top of the Grandma Pizza immediately after it comes out of the oven OR add a little going into the oven and more when it comes out.  I would recommend that if you are using frozen basil to make your grandma pie, put it on prior to putting it in the oven.

Drizzle some olive oil on the top of the grandma pizza and under the edges of the dough.

Place pizza in oven, on top of the stone if you are using one, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.   The thing that makes this grandma pizza recipe special is that the pizza dough is fried in the olive oil when the pizza is baking in a hot oven.   The bread stone distributes a even heat along the entire bottom of the pizza pan.

Enjoy the aroma while this delicious grandma pizza is cooking.   This is what I refer to as Italian Aroma Therapy!  

When your Grandma Pizza is finished baking, remove it from the oven and  top it with lots of fresh basil leaves. Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, cut your grandma pizza into rectangles, using a standard pizza cutter.

Although a stone is not a complete necessity, it will assist in all of your bread and pizza making.  I love my bread stone.   You can get great results without one, but having one will put it over the top. 

For Variations on this Grandma Pizza recipe, or to kick it up a little, check out my other forum post here: Grandma Pizza Variations On A Classic

I hope you enjoy this Italian masterpiece, called Grandma Pizza. This Grandma pie is out of this world.  Please feel free to modify this grandma pizza recipe to suit your tastes.    I presented what I was taught to me from my Grandmother, here, but you can certainly adapt it to your liking.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tiramisu - Yum!

Tiramisu is a very popular Italian desert.   It consists of ladyfingers that are soaked in coffee and liquors that are layered with a Mascarpone cheese and egg mixture.   Cocoa is often added to enhance its flavor.
My friend suggested that I share this recipe next on my blog, so that he can give it a try.  He also suggested that I post up some more of my Italian desserts, as this time of year; we need something to cheer us up.   The winter has a way of making us want comfort food!
And so, here is my Tiramisu recipe:
·         Ladyfingers or Sponge Cake
·         2 cups strong Espresso Coffee
·         5 eggs *
·         5 tablespoons sugar
·         1 lb Mascarpone Cheese
·         2 tbsp Marsala wine
·         2 tbsp Triple sec
·         2 tbsp Italian Brandy
·         2 tsp Vanilla Extract
·         8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, shaved or finely chopped

Directions for the Tiramisu Recipe
Make the espresso and allow two cups to cool
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the ladyfingers the oven for about 15 minutes.  If using Sponge Cake, cut the sponge cake into pieces that resemble lady fingers and use them in the same way.
Remove the ladyfingers from the oven.
Pour the cooled espresso into a casserole pan. Place the ladyfingers in a casserole pan making a single layer and allow them to soak in the espresso.
While the ladyfingers are soaking:
Separate the eggs.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until well blended. Then, add the mascarpone cheese, the assorted liquors, and the extract, and stir until evenly incorporated.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or hand mixer until they are stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the egg and mascarpone mixture.
Remove half of the soaked ladyfingers and place them in a square or rectangular glass baking dish in one layer.
Use half of the mascarpone mixture to make a layer on top of the ladyfingers. Try to spread it evenly.
Sprinkle with half of the chocolate.
Make another layer using the remaining ladyfingers, on top of the first layer.
Add the mascarpone mixture and chocolate on top of the second layer.
Cover with foil and refrigerate for a few hours, so that the flavors intermingle before serving.
* Raw Egg Warning
I suggest using caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, I recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.  For safety, I wash the eggs prior to using them.   Use your best judgment.
I hope you have enjoyed this Italian Dessert Recipe!   I will be posting more in the next few weeks, so enjoy!  Before that diet kicks in.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Calzones - Is there anything better?

Isn't it lovely?
Calzones - What could be better?

Calzones are kind of like a stuffed pizza like dough pocket.   Delicious for lunch or dinner, this Italian delight is found in pizza shops around the world.  Most pizza shops have the cheese calzones, without any kind of meat.   You can make yours that way, if you wish, or add meat, such as prosciutto, ham, sausages, chicken or meatballs!  
You can even opt to make a vegetarian version, using sautéed spinach, kale or swiss chard.  You can change it up, based on left overs from previous meals.
Here, I will present a prosciutto and cheese calzone.   This is one of my favorite recipes.   I use part skim cheeses here, so that it is not too entirely sinful.  You can use whole milk cheeses, but I don’t think you will notice the difference making this lower fat version….

·         1 lb Ricotta cheese, part skim
·         8 oz shredded mozzarella, part skim
·         ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
·         ½ lb thin sliced Italian prosciutto or ham
·         ½ tsp salt
·         Pizza Dough ( See my Pizza Dough Recipe )
·         Egg whites, beaten
Place the Ricotta in a strainer, lined with cheese cloth.  Place over a bowl and allow it to drain over night in your refrigerator.  You need to remove as much moisture from the cheese as possible.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and salt in a bowl.
Separate pizza dough into small balls, and flatten to make 8 inch circles, a little thicker than an 1/8 inch.
Spoon the cheese filling into half of the circle and be sure to leave about a half inch border.
Place a few slices of the prosciutto on top of the cheese.
Brush the borders of the dough with water and fold over the dough to form the calzone.  Press the edges firmly to seal the dough pocket.  You don’t want it to burst open, so take care to do this part correctly.
Place on top of oiled pan.  Brush with egg whites.  Cut a small vent hole in the top of the calzone.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.  The dough will rise a little and the calzones will look a little puffy.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Enjoy this wonderful Italian recipe by itself, or serve with a side of tomato sauce.

Focaccia - The grandparent of the modern pizza!

Focaccia is the great grandparent of the modern day pizza!  You can bake this bread today, and capture the flavors that date back to the times of old.

Enjoy it next to your favorite Italian meals.  The recipe here is a guideline.  By all means, adapt it to your tastes.   You can turn this into amazing garlic bread.   Don’t like onions, omit them.   There are no limits what you can do with this Italian recipe.

•    1 packet active dry yeast
•    1 ½ cups warm water
•    1 tablespoon brown sugar
•    4 bread cups flour
•    ½ cup corn meal OR semolina flour
•    1 tablespoon sea salt
•    ¼ cup olive oil plus 3 Tbsp for topping
•    1 small onion, thinly sliced
•    ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
•    ½ teaspoon dried oregano
•    ½ teaspoon dried basil


•    Dissolve the brown sugar in the warm water, then add yeast  and let stand for 15 minutes
•    Add the ¼ cup of olive oil.
•    Add the flour, corn meal,  1 ½ tsp of the salt and mix in your mixer using the dough hook for about 15 minutes, alternatively, you can kneed by hand, but choose to use the mixer.
•    Coat with olive oil, place in a bowl and cover.   Let rise for about 45 minutes, until the size of the dough ball has doubled in size.
•    After it has doubled, punch down the dough and cover again.   Allow it to rise again for another 45 minutes.
•    Coat a Jellyroll pan, Square Pizza Pan or something similar with olive oil.    Press the dough into the pan using your hands.  Press it out all the way to the ends of the pan, making a lip around the edges.  Using your fingers or knuckles, make indentations across the whole surface.
•    Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 15-20 minutes. While it is rising, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  If you have a bread stone, preheat it at this time.
•    Mix the topping: in a bowl add the remaining salt oil and spices.   Mix well.
•    Remove the plastic wrap and evenly coat the focaccia with the topping.   Be gentle when doing this.
•    Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
•    Cover the focaccia with foil, so that it doesn’t brown too much more and bake for another 15 minutes.
•    Remove from oven, remove foil and slice into rectangular pieces.  I use a pizza cutter to do this easily.

When making this, use your imagination.   You can put some thin sliced tomatoes, minced garlic, or whatever you desire.

I hope you have enjoyed making this Italian focaccia!   It is an excellent addition to your bread baking repertoire.