Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Creamy Potato Soup

For today’s taste, I am sending you over to The Lovely Nest for a great potato soup recipe brought to you from China. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ginger Treats

As you know, I love The Ginger People’s products. They recently had an online sale and I bought a few treats: ginger dressing, ginger juice and caramelized ginger. I’m super excited about this new package of goodies and can’t wait to start cooking.

Suggestions about what to make with the ginger juice? I’ve seen cocktail recipes that call for it and imagine that it will go well in a number of stir fries. I’m looking forward to using the dressing on salads and sandwiches. The caramelized ginger always goes well in homemade trail mix, on granola in the morning and in baked cookies and cakes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Italian Grilled Cheese Panino

Forget American cheese melted between two slices of white bread. My mother makes the best grilled cheese sandwich.

First, she grills the slices of Italian bread in olive oil right on the stovetop in a cast iron pan. Once the bread is toasted on one side, she turns one slice over, piles on the toppings (mozzarella, prosciutto, and anything else she has on hand, like tomatoes, lettuce and salami), covers it with the other half and grills the whole panino. She usually turns it over at least once. With a fork and spatula, you can (mostly) keep the insides from falling out. The cheese melts into the bread, the crust is crunchy from the olive oil and the salty meats nicely compliment the fresh mozzarella. It is delicious!

My mom recently revealed to me that when I was growing up, she would use butter instead of olive oil. With that in mind, this is a low-fat version, right? If you are looking to make this dish healthy, I wouldn’t recommend low-fat mozzarella since it won’t melt quite right. In fact, I’m not sure that there should be a (really) low-fat version. I would even recommend adding just a pinch of salt to the olive oil to help bring out the flavor in the bread.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wedding Cake's One Year Anniversary

We froze our wedding cake one year ago and expected that when we defrosted it, the result would to be more of a science experiment than dessert. As my husband and I continue to eat a slice every night, we remain surprised by how delicious it is.

After our wedding, my father triple-sealed the top layer of the cake with the Ziplock Vacuum Freezer System. With a hand pump and a few special Ziplock bags, he was all set. My parents kindly kept the cake in their freezer for us while we traveled, returned to Michigan and eventually moved back to the east coast this summer. Earlier this month, I packed up the cake in an ice chest with reusable ice packs, brought it back to D.C. and then defrosted the cake for two days in the refrigerator.

Our wedding cake had alternating layers: chocolate cake with nutella and banana and chocolate cake with cannoli filling. The butter cream frosting was blue with brown, chocolate ganache dots. The chocolate ganache was rubbery, but the cake, butter cream frosting and filing – we lucked out with the nutella and banana filling – tasted only a day old.

Should we freeze a fried egg for next year?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Italian-Americans, Magazines and Meatballs

I love that the October Issue of Food & Wine features Italian-American Favorites. Pick up the issue or read online for the many recipes and fun-facts. Did you know that there are 324 Italian festivals held annually in the United States? And 26 million Americans with at least one Italian grandparent? That makes the Italian-Americans the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States.

Wow. That’s a lot of Italian-Americans. And what do they like to talk about? Food. What do they like to argue about? Food.

Meatballs are a controversial topic. This one soaks the bread in milk first, this one has a secret ingredient she’ll never share.

I’m often asked for a good meatball recipe. I love making meatballs, but I don’t usually follow a recipe. bon app├ętit recently published Molly Wizenberg’s “In Search of the Perfect Meatball.” She describes a mixing technique that I look forward to trying the next cool, autumn day when our kitchen becomes a temporary meatball factory.

Happy reading, cooking, eating and good-natured arguing!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crisps from the UK

We picked up these crisps from the UK table at Euronight. How could I resist trying roast chicken and pickled onion potato chips? Well, maybe they weren’t for me. My mouth immediately rebelled against the vinegar taste in the pickled onion crisps and it wouldn’t accept the taste of chicken with the crunch of a chip. They were curious, indeed!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vegetarian & Vegan Resources

Contrary to my recent meat-oriented posts, I used to be a vegetarian. In high school and for part of college, I stayed away from meat. In the early 1990’s, there were fewer options for everyday, quick foods like a sandwich, even one I made myself, without the dreaded high fructose corn syrup that I have been allergic to since middle school. And so, I eventually turned back to meat.

Happily, it is much easier now to avoid corn syrup. (In fact, it is even cool.) While I don’t think I’d give up meat forever (after all, I’m on that search for the perfect burger) I would like to eat more vegetarian and vegan dishes as a healthy way to vary my diet and try new dishes.

At the recent Fall for the Book Festival, it was great fun to introduce and listen to vegan cookbook authors, author of Cook Food: A Manualfesto for Easy, Healthy, Local Eating, and Tracye McQuirter, author of By Any Greens Necessary. Their approaches made eating vegan food sound easy and best of all, delicious.

For more information, I recommend reading their websites (linked above) and their books, which you can find in my Amazon store.

During the session, Tracye offered the following organizations as a means to learn more about studies regarding being a healthy vegetarian.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

Compassion Over Killing


What’s your favorite vegetarian dish?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Blog: Sausage with cannellini beans and fresh rosemary @ An Easy Spread

Thanks to An Easy Spread for posting my recent recipe and article: Sausage with cannellini beans and fresh rosemary. It was fun to test the recipe and, even better, not hard at all.

While you’re on the site, be sure to look around at the great recipes and articles. You might even want to contribute to their Fall Writing Contest.