Italian Cooking & Language Blog

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

What else could you ask for?

Monday, May 28, 2012

King Arthur Flour’s Semolina Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Mix

I’m pretty obsessed with pizza. My husband and I go out for pizza, order pizza in, make our own dough, buy dough and top it and, now, have tried King Arthur Flour’s Semolina Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Mix

I’d like to say that I’m against mixes because I always prepare everything from scratch, but then I’d be lying.

We all have a million things to do and need to take the steps necessary to make the preparation of healthy – and, most importantly, tasty – meals easy, especially on week nights. Whole wheat pizza crust mix solves this problem.

After brushing the dough with olive oil, I topped the pizza with marinara sauce, sautéed asparagus, raw garlic and a mixture of both low-fat mozzarella and smoked scamorza cheese.  

Delicious! And quick.

Perhaps, though, if I hadn’t been a wee bit cocky about my pizza making skills, the toppings wouldn’t have started to glide off to one side and it would look prettier. These things happen.

Full Disclosure: I received the mix for review from King Arthur Flour (thank you!); I was not compensated for this post. All opinions here are entirely my own.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Twice Cooked Cookies: King Arthur Flour's Cranberry (Orange) Biscotti

Biscotti aren’t the easiest or fastest cookies to prepare.

First, a blog-interruption for a quick Italian lesson:

The past participle of cucinare (to cook) is cotto (“cooked,” as in, “She had already cooked dinner when you knocked on the door .”) A biscotto is a twice-cooked cookie. You probably want to dip more than one biscotto in your coffee, which means you now have multiple biscotti.

It is easy to eat more than one cookie, but it can be tiresome to cook one, or more, cookies twice. I’ve baked biscotti a few times and was often annoyed by the loaf falling apart before I sliced it and how long it took to bake them a second time.

So, while I generally think you can prepare most things from scratch, King Arthur Flour’s Cranberry Orange Mix was super easy to prepare. And delicious! The dough was even delicious raw, which I tasted despite fear of illness (sorry, Ma.)

I didn’t add orange zest, which means my biscotti were only cranberry (not orange), but they were wonderful nonetheless. I made two loaves instead of the one recommended by the box (as my husband always says, I refuse to follow a recipe exactly). I had no trouble slicing the cooled loaf and, if we had a bigger oven so I could bake both cookie sheets at once, it wouldn’t have taken more than an hour and fifteen minutes or so, from start to finish. And in-between steps, there was time to look up King Arthur Flour recipes online.

Full Disclosure: I received the mix for review from King Arthur Flour (thank you!); I was not compensated for this post. All opinions here are entirely my own.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Before You Leave for Italy: Emergencies

No one likes to think about emergencies, but we have to think about them a little in order to prepare for them. (Sorry, friends.)

A few quick and easy things to think about before you leave:

Does your health insurance cover you abroad/if you need to be sent home? Contact them directly and ask. 

Wondering if your vaccinations are up to date? Check with the CDC.

Bring all of your medicine with you in its original containers.

If you might need a specialist, look for English speaking specialists/clinics ahead of time. Hospitals in major cities should have translators. Read more here about the medical system in Italy

Register with the U.S. Embassy in Rome for regular security updates.

Leave a copy of your travel plans, passports, credit cards, etc., with a trusted friend at home. 

What did I forget?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Hair Bender

I don’t just need coffee, I also crave it. 

I bet you know what I mean. 

I love the flavors, complexities and aroma of freshly roasted and brewed coffee. Since I struggle to drink less of it (alas), I try to wisely choose the coffee I do drink.

It is a treat to have good coffee at home. Stumptown Hair Bender coffee is a blend with a variety of tastes. The aroma is full and the coffee has a deep flavor (without the dark burnt taste of others.)

Stumptown Coffee has a number of locations in Portland, Oregon, Seattle and New York City. And while I announced in 2010 that I looked forward to visiting their east coast shop, I somehow haven’t made that happen yet.

I hope to make good on my promise soon.

Full Disclosure: I received the coffee for review from Stumptown Coffee (thank you!); I was not compensated for this post. All opinions here are entirely my own.