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The almighty pizza dough!

pizza

As enthusiastic as I was when I first got in to baking and cooking, there were a few things that I never considered making at home. This list included gelato, bread and, the subject of today’s post, pizza dough. I assumed that the store-bought versions were probably just as good as what you could make at home and saved you time. I did make quite a few homemade pizzas when I began to cook; I experimented with all sorts of toppings, like pesto and goat cheese, eggplant and sundried tomato, ricotta and fig. These toppings were however placed on top ...

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Asparagus with Parmigiano and Prosciutto

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As some of you may know, I run a food blog – Pancakes and Biscotti – where, as the name suggests, I tend to focus on sweets and dessert. It is very much a place where butter, sugar, and chocolate reign supreme, and while there is nothing wrong with that – how could there be something wrong with that?! – the recipes I’ve posted for green, vegetable-y dishes are far and few between (and one of them would anyways be Basil Pesto which is served over pasta and thus doesn’t really count). That being said I find it’s nice to ...

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Laura’s Crostata di Marmellata

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When I was younger, my parents would bring my siblings and me to Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse for dinner about once a month. If you’re reading this article from New England, it’s likely that you know this chain restaurant, though I haven’t seen any in a while…. I wonder if they still exist. Going to Bugaboo was always a treat – I loved their chicken fingers and fries, the staff would sing to a funny song to you on your birthday, and there was a talking moose and pine tree at the entrance of the restaurant. Best of all however was ...

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Swordfish with tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and raisins (Pesce spada alla siciliana)

Pesce spada alla siciliana (photo by ©Francesca Bruzzese)

Though I love to cook and am always up for trying out new recipes – whether it be homemade gelato or pizza from scratch – I’ve realized that I generally gravitate towards pasta, risotto, and dessert. As a result, I make an awesome ragù, a great risotto with peas and pancetta, and all sorts of cake and ice cream from scratch. While my repertoire of carbohydrate based dishes is ever expanding, this tendency has left me slightly unbalanced as a cook. The few secondi that I know how to make are meat based – I can probably count on one ...

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No hassle summer recipe: Basil pesto

Basil pesto (photo by ©Francesca Bruzzese)

As you can probably all gather by now, I derive great joy from cooking. Almost nothing gets in the way of my reveling in the preparation a good meal, whether it be an unusually small kitchen, a dinner for picky eaters (I like the challenge!) or, most difficult of all, a –gasp–vegan. Note however that I used the word almost. This is because I find on a yearly basis that my desire to cook begins to wane with the arrival of summer, or rather, the unbearably hot weather in Rome. My apartment has no air conditioning (most apartments here in ...

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Escaping the summer heat: Rice Salad (Insalata di Riso)

Insalata di riso (photo by &copyFrancesca Bruzzese)

In keeping with the theme of my past few recipes, I’m sharing another summer friendly dish that takes minimum effort and heat to prepare. Insalata di riso — or rice salad — is a dish that I came across for the first time while living in Bologna. It was June, and the heat was already at its peak. My go-to favorites, tagliatelle al ragù and piadina with prosciutto and mozzarella, suddenly seemed too heavy to eat when the weather was so hot, and tortellini in brodo was completely out of the question. The hearty Bolognese cuisine that I had grown ...

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Bringing back memories of Bologna: Piadina

Piadina (photo by ©Francesca Bruzzese)

One of the things I love so much about food – beyond the preparing, eating, and sharing of it – is the nostalgic value it often holds. For example, the smell of olive oil heating up in a pan immediately transports me back to my grandfather’s house in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where he was always cooking up something delicious; my sister is reminded of our childhood summers anytime she has a hot fudge sundae; a friend of mine from Mexico taught me how to make avocados stuffed with tuna, tomatoes, and jalapenos, a dish his mom made him when he ...

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The comeback of the mighty polenta

Polenta (photo by ©Francesca Bruzzese)

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a list maker. It’s a great way to organize my thoughts and keep track of things I might otherwise forget, not to mention there is a great sense of accomplishment when crossing an item off of said list. My lists are everywhere: on post-its in my office, on the backs of receipts, or saved on my cell phone. While I have many practical lists (weekend to-do list! Work to-do list!) I have many more that are, perhaps not surprisingly, culinary. There is my “recipe to try” list, my “restaurants to try” ...

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Not quite summer yet: Risotto with peas and pancetta

Risotto with peas and pancetta (photo ©Francesca Bruzzese)

While the Spanish have paella, the Chinese have fried rice and the Mexicans arroz con leche, risotto is rice done the Italian way.

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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

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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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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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