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.

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, 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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

HAPPY HOLIDAYS - From Our Home to Yours

Wishing you all the peace the season brings!


Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.





Brodi di gallina (chicken soup)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Blood Oranges, Town Crier and my childhood - Arance Sanguine, Bannitore e la mia fanciullezza

Recently, I was reading a recipe for Margaritas and it called for blood oranges. Now, I have not seen nor eaten a blood orange since I was a child and, of course, this sparked a childhood flashback.

Blood Orange

But what does a town crier or bannitore have to do with blood oranges? I grew up in a small town in Abruzzo, post World War II. You see, in those days, there weren’t any circulars or ads in the local paper advertising sales.

A town crier or bannitore would be the person that, when a vendor would arrive in town, would go street by street communicating the notice to others. Generally, he was equipped with a trumpet or horn which served to draw people, who would then rush to their windows to hear what was being sold at the piazza. “Attenzione, attenzione; รจ arrivato il venditore con le sue belle arance sanguine dalla Sicilia.” Correte tutti in piazza…”. “Attention, Attention, a vendor has arrived with  blood oranges from Sicily.  Run to the piazza.”  The announcement would diffuse in record time because in those days neither radio nor other methods of communicating with others existed.

My mother and I upon hearing the sale announcement rushed to the piazza and purchased blood oranges by the kilos. These blood oranges, stained with red like Lady Macbeth, had an unforgettable sweet and tangy like taste with a hint of raspberry. I was told that the rich soil of Sicily and the Mediterranean temperature variation between day and night seems to be necessary to develop the distinctive red color.

We did not have Margaritas in those days nor did we have desserts on a daily basis.  Blood oranges and other fruits substituted for desserts which we only had on special occasions.  Today, being food conscious and a label reader of many cookies and cakes laden with corn syrup and artificial ingredients, I wish all children would eat oranges or other fruits as a snack or dessert.  In my opinion, they would be healthier.


The rich hue of blood oranges can be an aesthetic wonder when added to fresh fruit mixes and salads or used as a garnish.



Ingredients –

• 2 large navel oranges and 2 blood oranges
• 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced but save a few feathery fennel leaves
• Extra virgin olive oil to taste (about 8 – 10 tablespoons)
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Cut the oranges and fennel bulb
• Arrange orange and fennel slices on a large round plate
• Drizzle with olive oil
• Add salt and black pepper
• Sprinkle with the fine fennel leaves and serve.

Oh yes, the Margaritas


1 quart fresh blood orange juice or fresh orange juice (about 12 blood oranges or 8 large navel oranges)
1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice (about 12 limes)
1 1/2 cups Cointreau or other triple sec
3 1/2 cups silver tequila
Kosher salt
1 blood orange or orange wedge, plus 12 thin blood orange or orange slices
1 dozen small sage sprigs or leaves

1.In a large pitcher, mix the blood orange juice with the lime juice, Cointreau and silver tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
2.Spread a small mound of salt on a small plate. Moisten the outer rim of 12 martini glasses with the orange wedge, then dip the rims into the salt to lightly coat.
3.Add ice to the pitcher and stir well, then strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish each margarita with a blood orange slice and a sage sprig and serve.

Make Ahead
The margarita recipe can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated, covered, overnight.