Sportellina (Tuscan Easter cake with pine nuts) recipe

Sportellina (Tuscan Easter cake with pine nuts) recipe

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This is a traditional Tuscan Easter cake, made with orange juice and zest and roasted pine nuts. It's so tasty and delicate you'll want to make all year round!

Be the first to make this!

IngredientsMakes: 1 25cm sportellina cake

  • 100g Italian pine nuts
  • 1 egg
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 16g (about 4 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 120ml milk

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:50min

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C / Gas 3.
  2. Spread out the pine nuts on a baking tray.
  3. Toast the pine nuts for 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until just golden. Check often to avoid burning. Remove from the oven, cool and set aside.
  4. Increase the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and flour a 23 or 25cm round cake tin.
  5. Beat the egg and sugar in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer for about 3 minutes. Add the melted butter and beat for 2 minutes longer. Add to the bowl, zest and juice of orange and vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute.
  6. Add all the other dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) and stir well. Pour the milk to make a looser cake mixture. Finally, add half of the toasted pine nuts and mix well.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts on top of the cake.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool on a rack and serve.

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Potato Nests with Peas, Ham and Cream Cheese

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With a few twists and pulls, we turned sweet Easter rolls into the cutest holiday side dish.

Classic Glazed Ham

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Sunny's easy side is foolproof &mdash which is key if you're hosting a big group for your holiday meal. The recipe calls for baby carrots, not the kind of baby carrots you might be thinking of, but rather very young carrots, which are pop up in grocery stores and farmers markets throughout spring.

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Chocolate Pastel Easter Cake with a Chocolate Vermicelli Nest

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Giada's Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

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Here's an easy and adorable way to dress up plain cake doughnuts for Easter that requires no special tools or techniques. It's best to start with non-sugared plain doughnuts so all of the bunny parts stick.

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The melted butter in this recipe coats the flour, which prevents tough gluten strands from forming. The confectioners' sugar helps keep these bars tender.

Make Ahead: The bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Servings: 16 cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake/toast for about 5 minutes, stirring them once or twice, until they become fragrant and golden. Watch carefully they burn easily. Have an 8-inch square baking pan at hand for easy extraction, the pan may be lined with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over 2 of the sides.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the confectioners' sugar, rosemary and pine nuts, stirring to incorporate. Add the flour and mix in to form a stiff dough.

Pat the dough evenly into the (ungreased) baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden and firm at the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for about 2 minutes, then use a sharp knife to carefully score/cut the shortbread into 16 squares. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan and making further cuts to serve or store.

Parmesan Pine Nut Bread

I love Parmesan Pine Nut Bread! I made a batch of this delicious bread for company a few weeks ago. It turned out spectacularly. No kidding. I really enjoy Greek or Italian-type breads anyway. This great recipe includes Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and Italian seasoning, which provide really nice flavors and depth to the bread.

Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is wonderful served with an Italian-type meal. I served it with Chicken Parmesan Casserole, several different Tomato Tarts, and Pumpkin Nachos! The crunchiness from the nuts and the savory flavors from the cheese make for an excellent tasting bread.

I found this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens, The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking. I’ve made about ten recipes out of this book so far. Every single recipe has come out fantastic! Not only that, but I picked up a copy of the book at Half Price Books so it wasn’t overly expensive either! This is one of the few bread machine cookbooks that hasn’t let me down with disasters at every turn!

Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is a wonderful and tasty homemade bread you’re family is sure to enjoy, too. If you’re looking for a great tasting bread but you’re tired of plain white bread, then why don’t you give this one a go? You won’t be disappointed.

My ingredients listing is for a two-pound breadmaker, although the original recipe gives an ingredient list for a one-and-a-half pound bread loaf as well. Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is a great bread to throw in the breadmaker now that the days are getting cooler. Add a pot of soup, chowder, stew, or chili and you’re good to go!

Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is a wonderful, savory bread for dinner time meals.

This bread also made a great sandwich bread. I made several grilled sandwiches with it. Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is a great bread to serve with Italian dinners like Baked Manicotti, Baked Ravioli, or Tortellini Spinach Casserole.

I love nutty breads but I’ve never made one with pine nuts before. This one was terrific! The recipe calls for either Parmesan or Asiago cheese. I actually had both on hand but chose to use Parmesan cheese.

Pour milk into bread canister.

Add an egg and olive oil.

Add bread flour — NOT all-purpose flour . Bread flour has a lot more gluten which helps all the bread molecules adhere and stick together better which prevents the loaf from getting crumbly or dried out.

Add Parmesan cheese. You can use Asiago cheese if you prefer.

Add Italian seasoning, salt and honey. You can also use sugar if you prefer.

Add bread machine yeast and pine nuts. Place bread machine on setting for regular white bread and bake until done. My breadmaker bakes white bread loaves in three hours fifty minutes.

Allow bread to cool about 15 minutes. Remove from canister and butter tops and sides of bread to prevent crust from hardening.

Allow bread to cool 15 minutes longer and then slice down. An electric knife gives really clean, crisp cuts to the bread, whereas a regular serrated knife may make the bread look like you were hacking off pieces!

This two-pound loaf provided about 20 slices of fresh homemade bread.

Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is a fabulous homemade bread your whole family is sure to enjoy. This bread is great served as an accompaniment to soups and chowders.

Parmesan Pine Nut Bread is also a great bread to serve with salads. This bread is so tasty. We loved the savory richness of this bread.


I have been making this recipe for Italian Easter Pie. You see, this amazingly beautiful hotel, which is nestled atop the blue hills of Tuscany on the outskirts of Florence, serves an Italian Easter Pie for breakfast.

Every morning of my stay I took my breakfast alfresco on the covered loggia of the hotel, enjoying unparalleled vistas across the Arno Valley and Florence below. And every morning I had a piece of their delicious Easter Pie, made with ricotta cheese and pine nuts, scented with lemon and wrapped in a delicate crust.

In fact, I loved the pie so much I had a piece after dinner as well!

Once a monastery, this 15th century Villa is now one of Europe’s most glamorous hotels. It also has one of Florence’s finest restaurants, overseen by Michelin-starred chef, Attilio di Fabrizio. Chef Fabrizio makes a mean Italian Easter Pie.

You can have a piece of his Italian Easter Pie on one of the lovely terraces……

where a very nice Italian waiter will serve you as you lounge under the Tuscan sun……

and marvel at your good fortune as one of the privileged guests enjoying this elegant and historic setting.

You can also enjoy a slice of Italian Easter Pie in one of the Villa’s beautiful guest rooms. Breakfast in bed perhaps?

Or, you can enjoy a piece of Italian Easter Pie in the lush gardens where oranges and lemons are grown.

As you stroll through the fragrant grounds you are reminded that for centuries this hallowed ground was tended by Franciscan monks.

The monks may have even nurtured the very lemon tree that now grows the lemons used in the preparation of the Italian Easter Pie.

It is believed that the facade of the Villa San Michele can be attributed to the great Michelangelo. I wonder, do you think Michelangelo liked Italian Easter Pie?

Stepping inside you can’t help but think, wow, those Franciscan Monks really had it good! I wonder if they liked Italian Easter Pie too?

Well, in any case, I liked The Villa San Michele’s Italian Easter Pie so much I couldn’t wait to get home and conjure up a recipe for this wonderful delicacy myself. So, below is the recipe I developed. Try it. And, if you ever go to the Villa San Michele yourself, try a piece of the Italian Easter Pie that was the inspiration for my recipe. Then, do let me know how well I did with the knock-off recipe.

Tuscan Pie A Sweet Springtime Take On Spinach

Easter brings with it many predictable foods: chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, ham, and hard-boiled eggs. But some Italians use the season to feature a surprisingly sweet vegetable dish on their tables.

It's called torta co'bischeri agli spinaci. Francine Segan calls it "Tuscany's sweet spinach pie." Segan is a food historian and author of Dolci: Italy's Sweets. She shared a recipe for the pie for All Things Considered's Found Recipe series.

Segan says she stumbled across the dessert while visiting Tuscany. One day while exploring, she came across a side street where people were lined up outside of a bakery.

"When I got to the window [and] looked in, I noticed something bright green," she says. "It was so surprising because the Italians don't generally use food coloring."

The green was from spinach, which is boiled and chopped, then mixed with finely ground almonds, sugar and eggs. Unlike a quiche, the dish is sweet. Segan says during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Italians didn't divide courses the way we do now. It wasn't unusual to have something sweet at the beginning of the meal.

"They thought balance with every course [would] keep the appetite interested throughout the feast," she says.

The spinach pie is baked in a distinctive pie crust, where the dough isn't pinched at the edge, but shaped into chubby round points that mimic bischeri — the tuning pegs of a violin or guitar.

"It's so simple to make and it's so rewarding because the flavors are so unique and surprising — and it's even healthy," Segan says. "You get some of your vegetable servings in dessert."

by Francine Segan and Ellen Silverman

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Recipe: Torta Co' Bischeri Agli Spinaci (Tuscany's Sweet Spinach Pie)

The ground almond-spinach filling is light and satisfyingly spongy — almost soufflé-like. As with zucchini bread and carrot cake, the spinach contributes an earthy undertone, moistness and an unusually brilliant color.

For the crust

18 ounces (about 3 cups) "OO" or all-purpose flour
9 ounces butter (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
7/8 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling

10-12 ounces frozen spinach or 1 pound fresh baby spinach
8 ounces blanched almonds
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 ounces minced candied citron or lemon peel
1/4 cup Marschino or other aromatic liqueur
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Confectioners' sugar

For the crust: In a large bowl, in a food processor or on a clean work surface, mix the flour, butter and sugar until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Add the egg yolks, baking powder, zest and salt, and mix until dough forms.

Roll the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Lightly butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough, making it large enough to hang well over the sides. If you like, make a series of "peg" shapes along the outer edge of the dough. To do that, fold the edges of dough over and cut into the edges, and gently press "fret" shapes by pinching the dough between thumb and forefinger at a distance of about 1/2 inch apart.

Using a fork, poke holes throughout the entire bottom and sides of the crust.

Roll out the remaining dough to form lattices over the top of the filling. Refrigerate all the dough, covered in plastic wrap, until ready to use.

For the filling: Cook the spinach in a few ounces of salted water until tender. Allow to cool. Squeeze out all the cooking liquids and finely chop in a mini food processor. Reserve.

In a food processor, grind the almonds until they resemble coarse sand. Reserve.

In a bowl, beat the yolks with 1/3 cup of the sugar until creamy and light yellow. Add the almonds and beat until well combined. Add the spinach, candied peel and liqueur, and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks form, then add in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until it forms a glossy meringue.

Slowly fold the meringue into the yolk mixture. Pour into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and top with the remaining dough in a lattice pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, until golden.

Allow to cool to room temperature, then serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Recipe reprinted from Dolci: Italy's Sweets by Francine Segan, copyright 2011. Reprinted with permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Chestnuts were the staple food for tuscan peasants and on the nineteenth century the Castagnaccio spread to the whole Italy. After the Second World War, the “poor” cuisine dishes as Castagnaccio lost its importance due to the improvement of the condition for life and to a more refined cuisine. Recently it has been revalued and you can find it in many local festivals and Sagre.

The chestnut cake recipe is traditional in Liguria, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna too. According to what written by Ortensio Landi (1553) in the “Commentario delle più notabili et mostruose cose d’Italia e di altri luoghi“, the creator of the first Castagnaccio seems to be someone called Pilade from Lucca.

Ingredients of the chestnut cake recipe

Castagnaccio reminds me to my youth. During the fall season my family and I used to spend the weekend at our country side house, set in the middle of the chestnut trees forest, and Castagnaccio was the favourite dessert prepared by my grandmother.

The Castagnaccio is a very easy-to-make chestnut cake recipe. Nowadays the original recipe is enriched with dried fruits and nuts, to give Castagnaccio a more intense taste.

The chestnut cake is very cheap and nutrient. Pine nuts are rich of protein, calcium and vitamin A. And you do not need to add any sugar because you find it in the chestnut flour and raisins.

A romantic legend says that rosemary used to perfume the Castagnaccio, is a powerful love elixir. Eating the cake you should fall in love with the person who prepared it asking him/her to marry you.

What are you waiting for? Don’t waste time and prepare the Castagnaccio following this chestnut cake recipe.

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Pollo ai Profumi della Toscana

Dania Masotti is a famed chef and one of Montefollonico’s treasures. Memories of her inventive Tuscan Women Cook classes linger with our guests. A favorite teacher, she is known for transforming classic peasant dishes into elegant renditions that retain their soulful quality.

Abundant fresh herbs are the hallmark of Dania’s vegetable garden (orto). Here they amplify the flavor of a quality farm-raised chicken. Dania browns then gently simmers a cut-up chicken in a soffrito of spring onions, carrots, and celery. She tosses in a generous handful of fresh herbs from her garden. She uses what is available, often a mixture of rosemary, sage, thyme plus parsley, which we find works well as vegetables and herbs picked fresh from her garden enlivened with a burst of lemon.

Serve this chicken as a main course after a light pasta primo. At room temperature, Dania’s savory dish makes saucy picnic fare. Consider this finger licking meal for your Pasquetta and bring lots of napkins.

You will find her recipe for Risotto dell’Orto in our cookbook. Like this chicken recipe, her risotto relies on vegetables and herbs picked fresh from her garden enlivened with a burst of lemon.

1 free-range chicken
4 ounces olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 spring onion or 3 scallions, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
½ celery stalk, finely chopped
2 small ripe tomatoes, diced
½ cup mixed chopped herbs including rosemary, sage, thyme, tarragon and parsley
5 fluid ounces white wine
1 pint (16 fluid ounces) chicken stock
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Wash the chicken. Pat it dry with paper towels. Cut it into 8 or 10 pieces.
Heat half of the olive oil in one large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté the chicken pieces until golden brown turning them from time to time.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until tender. Stir in the tomatoes and herbs.

Tartufi di Marzipane

Marzipan is a delectable mixture of ground almonds and sugar, like edible modeling clay. It’s especially popular in and around Naples and on the island of Sicily where its formed into realistic miniature fruits.

The combination of marzipan and dark chocolate is a natural. The rich toasted notes of good-quality bitter chocolate balance the sweet almond flavors. When spiked with a little espresso coffee, you’ve got a sophisticated candy made from very few ingredients. And best of all, there is no baking required.

For best results, wear disposable gloves when making these candies. The mixture is sticky when kneading. Use marzipan or almond paste, for a slightly less sweet filling. Adding coconut oil to the dipping chocolate helps keep the chocolate from developing white streaks when it cools. Rolling the dipped truffles into cocoa powder or other decorations helps too.

Yield: Approximately 24 truffles

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon boiling water
10 ounces quality marzipan or almond paste, 50% or more almonds
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon coconut or vegetable oil
Espresso beans, as needed
Freeze-dried raspberries, candy hearts, mini chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and other decorations as desired

1. Dissolve the espresso powder in a small bowl with the boiling water.
2. Place the marzipan in a large bowl. Break it up then add the melted unsweetened chocolate. Knead in the chocolate until it is uniformly distributed throughout the marzipan. Add the espresso solution. Knead until the espresso solution and chocolate are well distributed.
3. Working on a silicone mat or on a work surface lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, roll the chocolate marzipan into a log. Use measuring spoons to portion it into 1 ½ teaspoon-sized portions.
4. Roll each portion of the chocolate marzipan into a smooth ball. To make the domed shape, take one ball of chocolate marzipan. Gently press down to flatten the bottom. Pat the top of the chocolate marzipan between your fingers into a smooth domed shape. Repeat with each portion of chocolate marzipan.
5. Line a half-sheet pan with a silicone mat or with parchment paper.
6. Combine the bittersweet chocolate and the coconut oil in a small glass bowl. Place it in a microwave oven. Melt the chocolate in 20 second bursts, stirring between until the chocolate is melted. Or melt the chocolate and coconut oil over gently simmering water.
7. Insert a wooden skewer into the bottom of one chocolate marzipan dome. Dip it into the melted bittersweet chocolate. Hold the dipped truffle over the bowl so that the excess chocolate drips off. Scrape any excess chocolate from the bottom using a paring knife.
8. Place the dipped chocolate marzipan onto the prepared sheet tray. Repeat with all the marzipan truffles.
9. Press an espresso bean into each truffle. Decorate with a piece of freeze-dried raspberry or other candy garnish as desired. Or roll each dipped truffle in mini chocolate chips or cocoa powder.
10. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more until the chocolate coating is firm.
11. Serve immediately. Or keep refrigerated until ready to serve. These candies will keep for up to 2 weeks when refrigerated.

Roasted Pears with Vin Santo Zabaglione

4 firm pears, such as Bosc
1/3 cup Vin Santo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Vin Santo Zabaglione, recipe follows
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
Anise seeds, as needed for garnish
Butter cookies, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Peel and quarter the pears lengthwise, reserving the stems if possible.
3. Combine the Vin Santo, olive oil, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl. Toss the quartered pears in the mixture.
4. Transfer the coated pears to a half-sheet pan. Spread them out into an even layer. Roast them in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the pears are tender and lightly brown around the edges.
5. Prepare the Vin Santo Zabaglione while the pears cool slightly.
6. Divide the pears between 8 glasses. Spoon the Vin Santo Zabaglione over the pears. Garnish with toasted slivered almonds, anise, and a cookie, if desired.

Yield: 2½-3 cups
4 egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup Vin Santo

1. Bring a several cups of water to boil in a saucepan set over high heat. Reduce the heat until the water simmers gently.
2. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium size stainless steel bowl that fits on top of the saucepan.
3. Whisk in the Vin Santo.
4. Position the bowl over the gently simmering water. Whisk the egg yolk mixture constantly until the mixture increases in volume and turns a light pale yellow, for from 6-10 minutes.
5. Use immediately.

Risotto with Vegetables

A highlight for our guests each week is dinner at La Botte Piena in Montefollonico where the food is as creative and inspired as the talented chefs who prepare each course. We have so much faith in their staff that we tell guests to take a seat at the table with open minds and a hunger for something unexpected. We never have any idea what they will serve. It is the only dinner during the entire week that is totally spontaneous. La Botte Piena never disappoints. Every detail, from their ultra-modern tableware to their expert wine pairings, wows. Owners Elena and Simone succeed in incorporating their own modern spin on traditional Italian fare.

Take their risotto, a colorful vegan option topped with vegetables plucked from their garden, dehydrated, and blended into vivid powders that top the risotto like a Rorschach test. (We’ve added a variation using fresh vegetables.)

For the Vegetable Powder:
1 cup fine chopped carrots
1 ½ cups fine chopped tomatoes
1 cup capers
1 cup minced green olives
1 cup chopped spinach

(If properly stored, dehydrated vegetables can last 5-10 years, but you probably want to use them faster.)

For the Risotto:
1 white onion
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
3 cups white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
3 ½ cups grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

To make the vegetable powder, spread out the carrots evenly on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high until the carrots are dehydrated, for 6 minutes. Do the same with the tomatoes, capers, olives, and spinach, cooking each one separately in a single layer in the microwave for 6 minutes. Blend them separately in a mini food processor and set them aside.

Melt one-half of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion in half the butter until translucent for 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 7–8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Deglaze the pan with the wine.

Heat the stock until simmering. Add one small ladleful of simmering stock to the rice. Stir until absorbed. (This should take about 3 minutes per ladleful.) Continue adding remaining vegetable stock one ladle at a time, stirring and allowing the rice to absorb the stock before you add the next one. Cooking the rice should take about 25–27 minutes in total.

When all the stock has been absorbed, taste the rice and make sure it is al dente. When the rice is done, stir in the remaining butter and the cheese.

Plate the risotto and add the vegetable powders on top of the in separate patches. Garnish with olive oil.

Risotto with Vegetable Garnish

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the carrots until tender without browning, for 5-6 minutes. Set aside. Ad 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the spinach until wilted and the moisture has evaporated, for 3–4 minutes. Set aside.

Prepare the risotto and garnish the finished risotto with the cooked carrots, spinach, the chopped tomatoes, capers and olives.

Peperoncini Marmellata

5 red bell peppers, minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and finely minced
2 cups sugar
1 lemon, zest and juice
2-1/2 tablespoons low-sugar pectin

Combine red bell peppers, Serrano pepper, and lemon zest and juice. In a separate bowl, whisk the pectin into the sugar. Add to the pepper mixture and combine. Place in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender or regular blender.

Place in clean prepared jars and close tightly. Invert the jars and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. After 24 hours, flip jars back over and refrigerate.

Makes approximately 4-5 cups. Refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Serve as a spread on crackers/bread, with goat and cream cheese, and as a glaze on fish, chicken, and pork.

Strawberry Tiramisu

For the strawberries:
2 1/2 cups of strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup Alchermes liqueur,* Fragoli wild strawberry liqueur or Chambord
1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 tablespoons rum
1 cup orange juice

For the cream:
500g mascarpone cheese, room temperature
500ml heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 box dry ladyfingers (Pavesini brand preferred**)

Put the strawberries, Alchermes liquor, sugar, rum, and orange juice in a bowl. Set aside. With a hand mixer or a KitchenAid standing mixer, beat the egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone, and heavy cream on medium speed for 5-10 minutes, until creamy. In a small bowl, strain the strawberries and keep the juice in a separate bowl. Dip the ladyfingers in the juice (a quick dip, you don’t want them to be soggy), and arrange cookies on bottom of a baking dish. Cover with half the cream mixture, then cover with the chopped strawberries, repeat cookies for another layer, and cover with remaining cream mixture. Decorate it top with strawberries just before serving and dust with powdered sugar. Chill for 2-3 hours before serving. It can stay chilled for up to 2 days.

* Alchermes is a scarlet colored Italian liqueur made by infusing neutral spirits with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla, and other herbs, and Kermes, a small parasitic insect.

** Pavesini ladyfingers may be difficult to find in stores. However, they are readily available online. Other brands may be substituted.


2 cups strong coffee, room temperature
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
17 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 packages ladyfingers (1/2 pound)
¼ pound dark chocolate, shaved or finely chopped

Prepare the coffee, and if you prefer, add a tablespoon of sugar. Mix egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using an electric mixture, combine egg yolks and sugar for 5-8 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Gently fold mascarpone into egg yolk mixture. Add the prepared egg whites and mix from the bottom to the top, gently folding in.

In a casserole or other decorative dish, spread a thin layer of cream on the bottom, then very quickly soak the ladyfingers in the coffee (do not submerge) and assemble in a layer covering the cream. Continue layering until pan is full. Add chocolate to the top layer of the cream mixture and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving. This will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Fresh Goat Cheese Dip with Figs and Prosciutto

5 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
12 fresh figs, halved lengthwise
12 slices prosciutto, sliced down the middle lengthwise
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine the goat cheese, cream, rosemary, and honey. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the mixture on top of a fig slice and wrap with a slice of prosciutto.

This is a very versatile dip and can be spread on just about anything! You can make grilled cheese sandwiches with thinly sliced apples, figs, or pears, using the dip to spread inside the bread. You can also stuff pitted dates (halved lengthwise) with a small amount of the dip, wrapped in prosciutto, and broiled about 15 minutes until prosciutto is crispy. Finally, spread on a slice of baguette or cracker with thinly sliced fruit of choice. Try with our sourdough crackers.

Pasta Fredda

1 package (8 ounces) short pasta, such as farfalle or tubetti *
20 cherry tomatoes cut in half
7 ounces bocconcini (small balls of mozzarella cheese), or any size fresh mozzarella cut into 1.5-inch pieces
¾ cup black olives, pitted and cut in half
6 or more fresh basil leaves, torn into two or three pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta following the box instructions for the time, or until al dente. Drain and cool to room temperature.Combine chopped tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, and basil in a large serving bowl. Add the pasta to the tomato mixture, combine, and drizzle with olive oil to taste.

* If you have small amounts of different shaped pasta in your pantry, combine them for a unique presentation.

Pici Pasta

2 cups All-purpose flour, preferably Italian “00” soft flour
3 large eggs

Make a mound of the flour on a clean work surface. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Pour eggs into the well. Mix them together with a fork incorporating the flour in the liquid. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 0.2 inches and cut into 0.4-inch wide strips.

Wind each ribbon by hand into the shape of very long, twisted spaghetti. As they are prepared, lay them down on a surface sprinkled with cornmeal or flour and sprinkled them with cornmeal or flour so they don’t stick together. Cook in plenty of salted water.

The video shows pici pasta served with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto. Pici pasta is excellent with a simple tomato-garlic sauce (pici all’aglione), hearty game meat ragus (pici al ragu di anatra), and even a simple sauce of bread crumbs, herbs, and olive oil (pici con le bricioli).

Sourdough Crackers

¾ cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons dried herbs
½ teaspoon salt, for sprinkling on top
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Mix the sourdough starter, oil, sea salt, and herbs into a small bowl. Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture into a thin, even layer on the parchment paper or Silpat. Sprinkle the top with salt and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and score the crackers with a pastry wheel cutter. Bake for another 30-45 minutes or until the crackers are golden brown. Rotate pan every 10 minutes while baking.

Let cool completely before breaking into squares.

Store in airtight container.


The cake shown at the end of the video is George Geary’s Limoncello Cake. Thank you George for sharing your recipe.

10-12 large fresh lemons, peeled skin only, no white pith
1 quart plain vodka (no fruit, herbal, or flavored) or Everclear Grain Alcohol
4 cups sugar
6 cups water

Carefully wash and dry the lemons. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons. Put the peels and alcohol in an airtight glass container, preferably one with a glass lid and rubber seal. Store in a cool dark place for 2-4 weeks. The alcohol will turn a beautiful yellow color.

Strain the alcohol, saving the lemons peels for candied lemon peel (next recipe) or other dishes.

Make a simple syrup of the sugar and water, ensuring the sugar has dissolved completely. Cool. Mix the lemony alcohol with the syrup. Decant into small glass bottles with rubber seals.
Store in freezer. Best served directly from freezer.

Candied Lemon Peel
2 cups sugar plus more to dust
2 cups water
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water, dissolving sugar completely.

In another pot of boiling water, add peels and boil
for 3-5 minutes. Drain.

Add peels to syrup and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Cool peels in syrup. Drain. Place peels on wire rack to catch excess syrup. Let dry on rack overnight or ideally 2 days. Dust the peels in a large bowl to lightly cover in sugar.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Mimosa Cake

This recipe requires two cakes, one for the cake and one for the “mimosa” topping. Bake the mimosa topping cake (Cake #1) first.

Ingredients for one cake:
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1-¾ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Mix the eggs with the sugar until incorporated, and then slowly add the flour and the baking powder. Put in a greased 8-inch round pan and bake approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cake #1. Cut into small ½-inch cubes that you will use for the topping, resembling a mimosa flower.
After you spread the ingredients on Cake #2, the “petals” will stick.
Cake #2 –Invert cake onto a plate. Slice into 2 discs.

Vanilla custard filling:
1-1/4 cup milk
1-1/4 cup heavy cream
½ tablespoons vanilla
8 egg yolks
½ cup flour
1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, warm milk and heavy cream with the vanilla. Do not boil, just warm. In another saucepan, on low heat, mix the egg yolks with the flour and the sugar until combined. On low heat, slowly incorporate the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Mix 5-6 minutes, until thickened. Transfer custard to a glass baking dish, cover custard with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Keep covered so as to avoid building a crust on the custard.

Whipped cream filling:
1 cup heavy cream
2-1/2 tablespoon powdered sugar

Mix the heavy cream and the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Use immediately.

Now build the cake. Take your two cake discs. On disc #1, spread whipped cream to cover. Then cover the whipped cream with custard. On disc #2, use remaining whipped cream and custard to cover the outside of the cake. Then press the “flowers” from cake #1 all around the cake to create a beautiful mimosa!

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto

Steep the tomatoes in the water for 15 minutes or until they soften. Drain. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve on crackers or bread. Thin the sauce with water for a pasta sauce or base for soup. Thin the sauce with cream or béchamel sauce for a pasta or risotto sauce.

Salsa di Formaggio

8 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into ¼-inch pieces
8 ounces Asiago cheese, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 peperoncini, crushed
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse for about 10-15 seconds to break cheese into small granules. The salsa should still be chunky and not completely pulverized. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in refrigerator until needed.

Serve at room temperature on crackers, as a topping for bruschetta, or as a pasta sauce.

Zucchini Two Ways

Stuffed Zucchini (Zucchine Ripiene al Forno)

4 zucchini, 6-7 inches long, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2-3 sprigs rosemary, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut ends off zucchini, halve lengthwise, and with a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Place the zucchini “boats” on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Chop the flesh and return it to the bowl.

Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5-8 minutes. Add zucchini flesh and cook 10-15 minutes or until the onion starts to brown and the liquid is evaporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine cooked onion, garlic, and zucchini in a bowl. Add bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg, and rosemary. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon the zucchini mixture into the boats and cook for approximately 25 minutes, until the zucchini boat is tender and the tops are browned.

Optional: Add more Parmesan on top of boats and put in a broiler to melt the cheese.

Zucchini Carpaccio

2-3 medium zucchini
Small wedge Parmesan cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ lemon
Maldon sea salt

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds on a mandolin. Layer the zucchini, overlapping them slightly, on a platter. Add thin slices of shaved cheese to cover. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: Sprinkle with minced rosemary or any fresh herbs.

Zuppa di Pasqua

The success of this traditional Easter soup relies on the robust flavor of homemade chicken broth and good Parmesan cheese. It is fresh and delicate but still eminently comforting, especially when you are feeling a bit under the weather. Serves 4 to 6

1 lb-12 ounces (800 grams) fresh spinach, washed
4 ounces or 1 cup (100 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
8 cups (2 litres) brodo di pollo (chicken broth) recipe below

Bring a large stockpot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is soft and wilted, about 1 minute. Drain the spinach through a mesh sieve, pressing it firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out the excess water. Turn the drained spinach onto a cutting board and coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, beat the Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and nutmeg together.

In the stockpot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over medium high heat. Slowly pour the eggs into the stock, whisking it constantly with a fork to form little shreds. Stir in the spinach. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately. If you like, ladle each serving of the soup over slices of toasted bread.

Chicken broth: Half a chicken, 1 carrot, 1 rib of celery, 1 white onion, half a handful of parsley, 8 cups of water, and salt. Put everything in a large bot, salt as like as you like, and boil for 2 hours on low heat. Filter the broth through cheesecloth.

Aperol Spritz

Large wine glass filled with ice
Slice of a large fresh orange
Club soda

Add half slice of orange to glass. Fill glass with one-third each Prosecco, Aperol, and club soda. Mix carefully with a straw, sweeping bottom to top slowly so as not to disturb the bubbles. Add a another half slice of orange to rim for garnish.

Sugo di Campagna

1/2-cup extra-virgin olive oil
42 ounces canned peeled whole tomatoes (1.5 pound cans in Italy, for sauces canned tomatoes are nearly always used)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 small spicy peppers (dried hot peppers, like peperoncini or red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
1/4 cup half-and-half
basil, one small fresh bunch, chopped or torn
parsley, one small fresh bunch, chopped

In a saucepan, heat the oil, then add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and garlic, and simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat. Add the spicy peppers, sugar, Parmesan, half & half, basil, and parsley and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add to the cooked pasta of your choice. This can also be used as a bruschetta topping. Sugo di campagna freezes well for up to 3 months.

Tuscan Apple Cake (Torta di Mele)

2 apples, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1-1/2 cups flour, all-purpose

In a small bowl, mix the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, add the eggs, melted butter, sugar, baking powder, milk, and flour. Then mix, using a hand mixer. Add the apple mixture and stir together. Butter a greased round 8-9” pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Potato Tart

1 pound red potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 large red or white onion, chopped
2 eggs
1 pie crust, unbaked homemade or store bought
3 springs of rosemary, chopped (along with rosemary you can add a pinch of thyme, oregano, and/or dill)
2 cups grated cheese, such as cheddar, fontina and gruyère

Boil the potatoes until they are tender, then remove and discard the skin.
Melt butter in sauté pan. Add onions, cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized, for approximately 30 minutes.
Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them. Add the caramelized onion, eggs, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the rosemary and other herbs you have chosen and then the cheese. Stir everything together.
Spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Bake until set and lightly browned, for approximately 35 – 40 minutes.

The crunchy schiaccia alla campigliese cake

The Schiaccia alla campigliese is a traditional Tuscan cake, originating of the tiny hamlet of Campiglia Marittima on the Etruscan Coast in center Tuscany. If you’ll visit Tuscany one day, I suggest you definitely to try this crispy and tasty cake that has to be served with a glass of Tuscan Vinsanto or with a glass of sweet dessert wine. It is the most typical product of the historical center of Campiglia Marittima from which it takes the name.

The origin of the schiaccia alla campigliese dates back in the history. There are documentary evidences of 19th century, but for sure it is more ancient.

An historical research also proves that the schiaccia is part of the local tradition and cooking and the original recipe is hand down from one generation to another. The real schiaccia alla campigliese is flavourful, crumbles when you cut it and has a long life.

The schiaccia alla campigliese was the favourite cake during the shows at the Concordi Theatre in Campiglia in 19th century.

Since 2002, a committee has been working to protect, promote and sale it. Schiaccia alla campigliese is also a registered trademark. Only authorized producers can cook and sell it. They must use a unique and exact recipe respectful of the tradition of the past, but also taking into consideration the current food needs and tastes. All bakery of the town of Campiglia Marittima are authorized to prepare this tasty tuscan cake. But today it is famous all over the province of Livorno, so it’s not difficult to the find schiaccia in the bakeries of other villages.

The reason of its delicious taste and consistence is the lard used in the recipe. But also pine nuts are an essential ingredient. In the past, locals used to add different kind of dried fruit, in addition to pine nuts, to get a thick dough. And it was served fresh-baked, with a glass of white wine.

Watch the video: Easter cake Very good (May 2022).