Cucina casalinga: homestyle cooking from my Italian-American kitchen


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

E - Embogone

This week's recipe was adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. According to her, Embogone is a hearty bean stew, rather similar to the popular pasta fagiole, but made with red cranberry beans instead of white cannellini beans. The name is a reference to the Italian word for snails, so I chose to use curly snail-looking "cellantani" pasta for my stew - ha, doesn't take much to amuse me :)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 lb. dry pasta
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese if desired

Fill a large kettle with water and bring to a boil in preparation for cooking dry pasta.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat.
Add pancetta and onion to oil and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes.
Add garlic and herbs and stir in.
After garlic has begun to release its fragrance, add 1 can of beans and about 1/2 cup of water.
Mash beans with other ingredients in pan to combine.
Add additional water if necessary to create a sauce consistency.
Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or so, while pasta is cooking.
Meanwhile, dump dry pasta into already-boiling water in large kettle.
Add second can of beans, which remain whole, to simmering sauce mixture.
Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
When pasta is done, drain and toss with sauce.
Sprinkle with cheese to serve if desired, and enjoy.
3-4 servings

Tasty and hearty, fragrant with sage and rosemary, the Embogone was indeed a nice winter supper!

Examine more E entries HERE


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

D - Dolce

Dolce ... sweets! And what better time than the holiday season to enjoy some special Italian desserts and sweets?

First we'll sample a crisp fresh CANNOLI, a pastry filled with a creamy ricotta mixture and drizzled with chocolate.
I did not make this tasty dessert - we brought home a carry-out box from our local Italian restaurant.
Next I will share PANFORTE.  This is a dense "fruitcake" type confection that's heavy on the orange peel and spices.  It wouldn't necessarily appeal to everyone, but it is a traditional Italian holiday treat - it has kind of a "Middle Ages" flavor.   It can commonly be found in import shops and Italian delicatessens here in the United States, but it's not difficult to make at home.  The King Arthur Flour recipe gives satisfactory results, although I do add 1 cup of raisins and more spices than their recipe specifies when I make it. 
Some other very popular Italian holiday sweets include 
PANETTONE, a soft delicate yeast bread; 
TORRONE, a nougat candy sprinkled with
whole almonds; and 
AMARETTI, small crunchy almond-flavored cookies.
And on the large tray I've arranged a ring of
Biscotti cookies are simple to make, and are perfect for holiday gift-giving.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Preheat oven to 350*
Combine butter and sugars until creamy.
Beat in eggs.
Add dry ingredients and blend well.
Gently stir in almonds and ginger.
Divide dough in half and form each half into a log about 3 inches wide by 1 inch high by 10 inches long.
Place logs on cookie sheet that's been prepared with nonstick spray.
Bake about 45 minutes, until firm and just beginning to turn golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool to the touch.
Reduce oven temperature to 300*.
Cut each log crosswise into 1/2 inch slices using a serrated knife.
Place slices back onto cookie sheet and return to oven.
Bake 7 minutes, then turn over and bake 7 minutes more, or until cut sides are dried.
Cool completely on wire rack.
Store in airtight container to maintain texture.
If desired, dust with powder sugar to serve. 
About 2 dozen biscotti.

Discover more delightful D entries HERE

C - Calzone

Calzone is a folded-in-half pizza, perfect for an informal supper while watching football on TV! 
And of course Chianti would be the accompanying
wine of choice during "C" Week.


Dough: 2 cups flour
               1/2 tsp salt
               1 packet active dry yeast
               2 Tbl olive oil
               3/4 cup  warm water

Mix all dough ingredients in a large bowl.  When dough forms into a ball, turn out onto a clean surface dusted with flour and knead until smooth.  Knead in additional flour as needed, maybe up to 1/2 cup more.  Set dough aside to rest and rise while preparing filling.

Filling:  1 Tbl olive oil
               1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
               1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
               14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
               Seasonings as desired
               8 oz. package fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 - 6 slices

Heat oil in a frying pan and brown the sausage until it's cooked thoroughly.  Add pepper chunks, lower heat and cook covered until peppers are just beginning to soften.  Remove from heat and add drained tomatoes to mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, dried crumbled rosemary, garlic powder, dried red pepper flakes, etc.  The filling mixture should be quite dry so it doesn't ooze out of the crust while baking.  Other filling ingredients can be substituted: think of your favorite pizza toppings, but more dry.

Preheat oven to 450*.  Oil your hands lightly.  Divide dough in half.  Using one piece of dough at a time, press it out into a freeform circle about 10" in diameter and 1 " thick.  Spoon half the sausage filling onto one side of the dough circle.  Top with half the fresh mozzarella.  Fold dough over filling to cover it and form a semicircle.  Seal edges with a fork.  Cut a couple of slits on the top to allow steam to escape.  Transfer to lightly oiled baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining ingredients to make second calzone.  Brush tops of calzones lightly with olive oil.   Bake at 450* for about 30 minutes until golden brown.  Sip your first glass of Chianti while the calzones are in the oven.  They are pretty massive, and each could easily be two servings for normal appetites.  Enjoy!

Click over to Alphabe to contemplate more Cs!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving feast


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

B - Buongiorno!

Braciole is on the menu this week: it's a Sunday dinner or special-occasion meat dish that's always popular with my family.

BRACIOLE - Italian meat rolls
6 servings

1 1/2 pounds flank steak
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbl dried onion flakes
2 Tbl parsley
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper if desired
your favorite Italian tomato gravy (spaghetti sauce)

Cut the flank steak into three sections, and then slice each section horizontally to make two thin pieces from each.  You'll have six pieces total.

Place each piece between two sheets of waxed paper and pound until thin and tenderized.

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl.  Other recipe variations also include pine nuts, raisins/currants, or sliced cheese as filling, but our family recipe uses only the bread crumb and shredded cheese mixture.

Roll and tie ends with string or secure with toothpicks.

Sear the rolls in hot oil until browned.

Add the rolls to your pot of "gravy"  (spaghetti sauce to most of you), and simmer all for an hour or so until everything is tender and the flavors are melded.  My batch of gravy this time also included meatballs, sausage, and a couple of pieces of chicken.

Enjoy the braciole rolls with pasta, and freeze the leftovers for another tasty dinner later. I always have a couple of containers of gravy in the freezer in case of
 pasta emergencies!   
Bustle over to Alphabe and find a bunch more B entries!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A - Abbondanza!

Starting off the alphabet with some
Italian-American essentials:

an Antipasto appetizer platter,
with sausage, cheese, olives, and tomatoes -
always a favorite to nibble on

and a sip or two of
Amaretto or Anisette

Alla tua salute! – To your health!
And there are additional A entries to be admired at

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Due to family problems, this project was abandoned earlier this year.  For personal reasons I decided not to go back and do all the rest of the alpha blocks.  Right now the quilt top is **resting** in my unfinished pile.
I'm making plans to join the newest Alphabe series, beginning on November 20.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

K - Quiltabet

K: Kitchen Woodbox


Thursday, January 23, 2014

J - Quiltabet

J: Jack in the Box


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns

I: Indian Star

more I Alphabe entries here

Thursday, January 9, 2014

H - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns

H: Home Circle

 more H Alphabe entries here

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

G - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns

G: Grandmothers Puzzle

 more G Alphabe entries here

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

F - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns

F: Fox and Geese

more F Alphabe entries here

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

May the blessing of wonder be upon you
May your soul awake to the glow of the new born sun

May you find your life is a fresh page
waiting to be written upon
May you begin again
Be born again
A new self
A new journey

May you turn the wheel again towards hope

  "The Blessing Of The Child Of Wonder"
Joanna Howell Colbert

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

E - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns

E: Empire Star

Home Sweet Home -
on the front porch
 more E Alphabe entries here


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

D - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns
D: Domino

Home Sweet Home 
 kitchen sink windowsill, very early winter morning
Find more D Alphabe entries here

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

C - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns

C: Crazy Anne


Home Sweet Home - the sunroom 
More C Alphabe entries here

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

B - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns



Today  and every day I am thankful for my
Home Sweet Home
More B Alphabe entries here

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A - Quiltabet

I am making a scrappy red alphabet sampler quilt using 
10" pieced blocks in traditional patterns
here and here
More A Alphabe entries here

 Home Sweet Home

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Zeroing in on Z


Z -- wow, I made it all the way through!  I love my little town here in the mountains and have enjoyed sharing it. 
And who'd-a-thunk I could find signs for the whole alphabet way up here in the middle of noplace?
Zee ya later ...
next time will be Something Completely Different.
More Zs here