Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Il pranzo della Domenica:  Il momento in cui la famiglia si reuniva e si stava tutti insieme (television spenta e no smart phones) l’intrattenimento erano le chiacchiere. Mamma faceva i "piatti della domenica" lasagne, braciole, ravioli e arrosti.  Col tempo le cose sono un po’ cambiate, il pranzo domenicale si √® ridimensionato. 

    Oggi niente e' piu come una volta!  Dove e' andato a finire il profumo del sugo con braciole?.  Dove sono le mamme che al mattino preparano la pasta fresca tirato con il matterello?

     Eppure, il dolce della domenica non dovrebbe mai mancare. Ritengo che sia un giorno libero da passare tra gli affetti piu’ cari e riscoprire l’importanza della famiglia spesso dimenticata nella quotidianit√† degli altri giorni.

    Percio', continuo a preparare lasagne, il pollo arrosto e cotolette per la mia famiglia perche' sono convinta di farli felici.

  Perche' in fondo, non dimentichiamolo che Domenica e' sempre Domenica!

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Traditionally, this delectable Italian dessert is made with amaretti.

4 large peaches
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup crushed amaretti

Cream together the sugar, butter, and egg yolk in a small bowl.  Add the crushed amaretti to the creamed mixture and stir well.

Pour boiling water over the peaches and leave for 2-3 minutes.  Peel and halve the peaches and remove the pits.  Enlarge the cavities slightly by scooping out some of the flesh with a pointed teaspoon.  Add the peach pulp to the egg mixture and blend well.

Pile the stuffing into the peach halves and arrange them in a buttered ovenproof dish.  Bake on the center shelf of a preheated over at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the peaches are soft but still shapely.

Serve the peaches warm.  If you like, serve with a bowl of whipped cream.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Cantucci o Biscotti Toscani

Cantucci, also known as biscotti di Prato, are among the most popular and well known biscotti in the world: sweet almond rolls baked in the oven, then cut and baked again until they are crisp and golden.

Here is my version! 

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup oil or butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup anise-flavored liqueur, like Sambuca or Marsala (the choice is yours)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups slivered almonds

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a baking sheet and set aside.
In a bowl whisk together flour and baking powder, toss in the nuts.  In another bowl whisk together sugar and eggs, whisk in Sambuca, vanilla and oil.  Add flour mixture and fold well. 

2.  Form into 4 or 5 logs approx. 2 inches wide, 1 inch tall.  Bake until dough is firm, 25 minutes.  Let biscotti cool.

3.  With a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until biscotti are crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Favorite Treats - Dolci di Noci

I love espresso coffee after dinner. I do not like sugar in my coffee, but I like to have something sweet (like a cookie) to accompany the coffee. Being health conscious, I have been searching for a cookie that wasn't too sweet, good and nutritious. I have finally achieved what I wanted. In fact, these little 'cookies' are almost too healthy to be called cookies. They are so very easy to make. You only need a mixing bowl and basic kitchen utensils. I love recipes like this… perfect for the times when you  want to bake something delicious but don’t have time for something complex.

Dolci di Noci  (Walnut Cookies)

1 lb. of finely chopped raw walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup natural raisins (optional)
Grated rind (zest) of one lemon
1 tbsp. lemon juice (from same lemon)
Grated rind (zest) of one orange
1 tsp. cinnamon


Beat lightly eggs and sugar
Add walnuts, raisins, lemon and orange zest  lemon juice, and cinnamon.
Mix ingredients thoroughly
Take a teaspoonful and drop into a greased cooking sheet
Bake in a preheated oven 325-340 degrees (depending on oven) for 15 minutes.


Shape mixture into logs approx. 2" wide and cover with the glaze

Ingredients for Glaze

1 egg white
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup of sugar

Prepare the glaze by beating the ingredients and pour over each rod.
Cut the logs into small pieces (1 inch) in length.
Bake in a preheated oven 325-340 degrees (depending on oven) for 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Meatloaf is NOT Sexy - Polpettone non e' Sexy

It does not photograph well.  Who said?  I for one, think meatloaf is VERY sexy.
Meatloaf with dandelions
All photos - Copyright - ©2011 - La Casa e Il Giardino – picasaweb

1/2 lb. pork *
1 lb. beef*
2 cups day old bread crumbled     
2 chopped tomatoes
1 red medium onion, chopped
1 yellow medium onion, chopped
2 red chilies
2 green peppers
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

* 2 lb. chopped turkey may be substituted

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and cook the onions and peppers until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, chopped tomatoes, parsley, egg, and onion and pepper mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. 


Bake for 1 hour in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until the meatloaf is cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Meatloaf cooked - nicely browned and very moist

Once out of the oven let the meatloaf rest for 15 minutes.  This should make it easier to slice.  When slicing cut a generous slice.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rigatoni al Ragu' Rustico

Love, love Rigatoni!    I like their ability to suck in the sauce like no other pasta, especially the chunkiest meat sauces.  

Rigatoni al Ragu Rustico

All photos - Copyright - ©2012 - La Casa e Il Giardino

"Ragu' Rustico" (rustic sauce)because characterized by typical ingredients of rural Italian kitchens:  mushrooms and hot sausages.


1 lb. good quality Rigatoni
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, criminis and porcini)
1/2 lb. hot Italian sausages                                 
2 cups tomato pulp in chunks
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
Sprig parsley, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

home-made hot sausages
Clean and slice mushrooms. 

In a medium pan saute' mushrooms in oil and garlic. 

Remove skin from the sausage and cut into chunks.   

Add the sausage to the mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add the white wine and let evaporate. 

Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, cook the pasta.  Drain and pour into the ragu'.

Add the Parmigiano and chopped parsley.
mixed mushrooms

Saturday, December 31, 2016

How I kicked my $$$ coffee habit by switching coffee makers

Like a growing number of espresso lovers, few years ago I have figured out that I can have my coffee and drink it too.  I chose to become a at-home-do-it-yourself espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker.  And why not.  Today’s high tech, superbly designed, and easy-to-use European automatic espresso machine giving every home barrista the equipment they need to create espresso drinks.

I have been an espresso coffee lover for many years. To me, espresso is more tasteful than regular coffee. I love it in the morning with hot milk and plain in the evening after dinner. To prove it, here is my collection of espresso coffee makers which I have acquired over the years.

But two years ago, I was seduced by a company and accepted, one of the automatic, high tech, well-designed and easy to use espresso maker – you know the one that uses capsules.  At .55c per cup, I developed a $4.00/day habit.  I think they give away the coffee maker so they can sucker people like me and others into buying capsules for five times the price of  'regular' coffee (You know, like inkjet printers. I purchased a good printer for $150.00 but pay $45 for each ink refills).

This summer, I received several pounds of Lavazza coffee as a gift from Italy. 

Images: ©2010 - casa-giardino picasaweb

Now, I simply spoon out the coffee into the Moka, steam milk to 180 degrees (no higher or it might taste scorched) and enjoy a coffee shop latte for almost nothing.

My mother's Moka
Not only have I cut my coffee cost to one-fifth but by using my mother's coffee maker, I keep her memory alive.