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Author Archives: Francesca Bruzzese

Francesca Bruzzese is an avid cook and baker who has been living in Rome, Italy since 2011. A Rhode Island native with Italian roots, you can usually find her in the kitchen making dolci to bring to her colleagues at work, developing new recipes to add to her repertoire, or planning her next dinner party. In addition to contributing recipes and articles to Eating Italy Food Tours, she also has a food blog, Pancakes and Biscotti (www.pancakesandbiscotti.com).

Torta di Ricotta (Ricotta Pie)

Torta di ricotta

"Torta di ricotta" is a dessert traditionally made for Easter in Italy. My mom makes it for this holiday, without fail.

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Not your average veal cutlet: Cotolette alla Milanese

Cotolette alla Milanese (photo ©Francesca Bruzzese)

“I can’t wait to go to Italy. Chicken parmesan is my favorite food ever. I’m going to eat sooo much chicken parmesan when I’m in Italy!” Hmm… not quite. This remark was said to me a couple of years ago by a college classmate who was preparing for a summer vacation in Italy. I kindly explained to her that she would never find chicken parmesan anywhere in Italy, but that she would surely try lots of other actual Italian dishes that would be much better. She did not take the news well. Being raised in a family with Italian grandparents ...

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The Queen of Versatility: Torta salata with spinach, ricotta and sun-dried tomatoes

Torta salata (photo ©Francesca Bruzzese)

Even if you consider yourself to be well versed in Italian cuisine, you’re probably wondering what this week’s post is about. Is this some sort of side dish? A weird dessert? A quiche?! The torta salata isn’t a dish that most Americans would automatically identify as Italian. I’ve never seen it published as a recipe in any Italian cookbook in the States, and you will rarely find it on the menus of any Italian restaurants (not even in Italy). So what is this mysterious dish, then? In short, a torta salata, which can be literally translated as “savory cake” is ...

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Getting over Julia Child: Pici con ragù di salsiccia

pici-sugo

On a plane ride to Rome a few years back, I took Julia Child’s “My Life in France” with me to read. It was one of those books that was so good that it made the trip go by much faster, and for this I was grateful. I was however shocked when I arrived at Julia’s assessment of Italian food, contained in a few sentences a little over halfway through the book. Julia, the queen of French cuisine, had traveled to Italy, where she deemed the sauces “boring” and the food too “simple,” declaring that “the food didn’t strike me ...

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Mozzarella in Carrozza: A Story about Nonno Jim

Mozzarella in carrozza

My Nonno Jim is one of the coolest people I know. Here’s why: When he was only 14 years old he immigrated to the U.S from Calabria, Italy. On April 12, 1936 he boarded a boat (called Il Conte di Savoia) departing from Naples, Italy, bound for New York City. The plan was that his father, who was already living in the U.S, would meet him at Ellis Island and bring him to Providence, Rhode Island, where he had his own store that sold Italian products like tomatoes and cheese. My nonno had been working for his uncle, who was ...

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Eat supplì like the Romans do

Photo by ©Francesca Bruzzese

In my almost four years living in Italy, I have traveled the country quite a bit – Florence, Verona, Milan, Torino, Venice, Matera, Lake Como, Sardinia, Calabria, Pisa, Rieti, Tivoli, Urbino, Siena, Gaeta, and Orvieto are just a few of the cities I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Besides confirming my belief that Italy really is the most beautiful country in the world, my travels have also taught me a good deal about Italian cuisine. While I already knew that Italian food is across the board superb, I also realized that it is very regional — the dishes you find ...

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The comforting simplicity of occhio di bue

Occhio-di-bue

The bakeries in Italy have something special about them — a paradise of biscotti, cannoli, and tarts that lend themselves to various occasions.

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Polpette

Polpette

When I was younger, I assumed that everyone went to their grandparents’ house on Sundays to have lunch. And by lunch, I mean a meal that began around 12:30 with an antipasto (prosciutto and melon and fried zucchini flowers, for example) a dish of pasta, at least four contorni or side dishes, and a second course, all finishing around 4:00 with dessert and caffè. When I was younger I remember feeling confused and then slightly smug when my classmates told me that they ate “meatloaf” or “peanut butter sandwiches” at their grandmothers’ houses for lunch. Poor things. Lunches at my ...

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Falling in Love with Lasagne alla Bolognese

Lasagna-3

As much as I love living in Rome, my favorite Italian city is not the home of the Coliseum and Piazza Navona, but rather up North, in the land of tortellini, porticos, and la torre Asinelli* – Bologna, Italy. This may seem surprising. After all, Rome is the capital, the Eternal City, one of the most iconic places in the world. Though Bologna may not boast the history and grandeur of Rome, it holds a great amount of sentimental value for me. I spent my junior year of college there, living in a homestay, attending the Università di Bologna, and ...

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Simple and Sweet Greatness: Torta Caprese

Torta Caprese (photo by Francesca Bruzzese)

As much as I ate and enjoyed Italian food when I was younger, I lived with the idea that American desserts were superior to Italian ones. Sure, Italians had cannoli and gelato, but those were nothing compared to raspberry topped cheesecakes, towering chocolate layer cakes and fudgy brownies. There were very rarely surprises and creativity in Italian desserts as far as I could see. The Italian restaurants I went to offered the same list of desserts (panna cotta, tiramisu, the occasional profiterole), and I was slightly disappointed when offered the usual cantuccio or two with coffee after lunch at my ...

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Diving into ‘Secondi’: Saltimbocca alla Romana

Saltimbocca alla Romana (photo by Francesca Bruzzese)

For my first six months in Rome I subsisted almost solely on pizza and pasta. They were, after all, the dishes I had been so eager to sample before my arrival in the Eternal City, the very pillars of Italian cuisine: the hearty and flavorful bucatini all’amatriciana, a pizza margherita larger than the plate it was served on, and creamy cacio e pepe. Any combination of carbohydrates swathed in tomato sauce, cheese or both inevitably ended up on my dinner table. And I’m not in the minority here. Ask anyone what his favorite Italian dish is and you’re bound to ...

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Discovering Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Bucatini all'Amatriciana (photo ©Francesca Bruzzese)

One of the best things about moving from Bologna to Rome was discovering a completely new cuisine. After all, Italian cuisine tends to be very loyal to regional tradition: for example, you’ll find lasagna in the North but are hard pressed to find it in the South. Each province’s culinary repertoire is dictated by the climate, seasonal produce, and history of the region among other things. Rome’s cuisine tends to be rustic, hearty, and simple in its ingredients. The use of offal or undesirable cuts of meat is due to Rome’s former abattoir, once the biggest in all of Europe, ...

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