Italian Cooking & Language Blog

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

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

D.C. Area Italian Language, Food & Cultural Organizations

I have been gathering websites for D.C. area Italian language, food and cultural organizations. See below for some of the highlights and scroll down through the links on the right for the permanent list.

I’m sure that I am missing some. Perhaps you can help? Have you taken a great language class in the area or attended an Italian language, food or cultural event? Let me know below and I'll add the links into the resources.

Grazie mille!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CSA: Cremini Mushroom Pasta

This season we joined a CSA: The Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Every Wednesday, we pick up a half-order of fresh vegetables. The trick is to decide what to cook with these surprise treats. Since most of the items are organic and quick to grow soft, they should be eaten quickly. I often default to quick pasta sauces.

Tender golden cremini mushrooms were in the recent batch. While water was boiling for pasta, I sautéed the mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper. I added dried thyme and walnut pieces. After mixing the sauce with the cooked pasta, I plated our portions. We each opted to add some freshly grated cheese and a few hot pepper flakes. Ecco! An easy pasta dish fit for a couple of work-worn adults.

The trick to managing the CSA vegetables is to think creatively. Take a look at the vegetables, your pantry and imagine what might taste good together. Once you start experimenting and feel comfortable in the kitchen, you can look through recipes in your cookbook or online and then riff off of them. You never have to follow a recipe exactly. Trust your instinct, what you have on hand and save your budget from adding drips or drops of expensive foods that might not be necessary.

What have you prepared recently with your CSA or Farmer’s Market treats? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bread Making

Making bread might sound intimidating, but it really isn’t. The good news is that it seems – and tastes – impressive every time.

If you start with a basic recipe, you can tweak it according to your taste and the ingredients you have on hand. I recently followed this Epicurious recipe for Portuguese Farm Bread.

I brushed the resulting loaf with extra virgin olive oil and then added kitchen-garden-grown (although frozen) rosemary, pepper and large salt on top before baking it on a pizza stone. I always toss down a little corn meal on the pizza stone before I place the unbaked, shaped dough on it in the oven. Like with making pizza or calzone, this makes it easier to remove from the pizza stone after it is baked.

The result? A delicious loaf whose slices went well with a pasta dinner to fare la scarpetta the sauce, then for sandwiches the next day for lunch and later for breakfast toast.

Homemade bread doesn’t last as long as store-bought bread, but you can always cook half the dough and then save the other half in the fridge until you’re ready for it a few days later. If that’s still too much for you and your family, you could freeze the left-over dough for another day. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nasto’s Olde World Desserts

Nasto’s ice cream desserts remind me of many childhood desserts in Italian-American restaurants. For my Dad’s birthday, we put candles in Spumoni wedges and sang “Happy Birthday.” The dessert was a hit, even if not an actual cake.

Just in case that wasn’t enough dessert for our party of six, we also picked up a selection of fresh fruit sorbets in the shell and Tartufo ice cream balls filled with peanut butter. The peanut butter was my favorite – it was like a cold and milky Reese’s Pieces.

A quick drive to their store in Newark, New Jersey, and you’ll find your freezer filled with treats.

Auguri, Babbo!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


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A few weeks ago, I blogged about Giallo Zafferano, an Italian website with cooking videos, recipes and more. The tiramisù recipe was inspiring enough for me to prepare the dessert for guests recently.

I was able to find almost all of the necessary ingredients, including the cookies and marscapone cheese, for a reasonable price at Trader Joe’s. I slightly altered the recipe by sprinkling (leftover) ground chocolate nibs on top instead of cocoa.

It is a quick and easy recipe. Once it is prepared, leave it in the fridge and then serve. No actual cooking required.

Do you know what the name tiramisù means? The verb tirare means to pull/pick up, mi means me and su means up. It is a pick-me-up dessert because of the coffee and sugar. Sounds right to my taste buds.