“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ciao Roma!!

Ciao mei amici!! I finally arrived in Rome and let me tell you, it feels like I never left. I feel like I'm home. I know my way around, I understand and speak some of the language, the people at my hotel remembered us from last year, it's just perfect. The weather is STUNNING. The past few days I've just been settling in before I leave for Florence tomorrow. We've been spending our time just wandering. One of the amazing things about Rome is you can you just wander and you never know what you're going to come across. A lovely piazza, a stunning fountain, a little cafĂ©, musicians in the street, etc. I thought I would share some photos with you from the past few days. Once I get to Florence where I'll be attending cooking school, I will start posting recipes that I'll be making in class and at home.  I will also be posting on my facebook and twitter daily and will be sharing lots of beautiful pictures on my pinterest, so please be sure to follow me the entire way. And of course, I will posting here..recipes, photos, journals, you name it. Ciao for now!

They have different versions of nutella like we have peanut butter!

I have to tell you, I got a small mozzarella at the supermarket for 1 euro that rivaled most mozzarella sold in gourmet shops in NYC.

Yes, Baci Yogurt is a thing in Italy.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crostini with Homemade Ricotta, Honey and Rosemary Pistachios

Ciao a tutti! I am so excited, I leave for Italy on Monday! I can’t believe it’s already here!! When I first signed up to attend culinary school and booked everything, it felt like so long ago and now it’s here. I will be in Italy for two months and I’m so excited to be sharing this wonderful experience with my mother who will be a part of this amazing journey. I will be posting on my facebook and twitter daily and will be sharing lots of beautiful pictures on my pinterest, so please be sure to follow me the entire way. And of course, I will posting here..recipes, photos, journals, you name it. My latest recipe is a Crostini with Homemade Ricotta, Honey and Rosemary Pistachios. That’s right, homemade ricotta!! When I tell you how easy it is to make homemade ricotta, you’re never going to buy the packaged stuff again. I used a recipe for the ricotta from one of my favorite chefs, Fabio Viviani! It’s appears in his cookbook, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen.

As I mentioned, I am planning on starting a business where I throw special dinners and events, so please stay tuned. I hope that some of you will able to join us, I have some AMAZING theme dinners planned. I served this, along with my Fried Pizzettes with Spicy Onions and Crispy Prosciutto at my Masquerade Pop Up last week, which was a big success!! I hope you like this recipe as much as I do!! The ricotta with honey and nuts on the crostini is amazing, it’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s crunchy, it’s creamy, it’s everything! And everyone couldn’t get over the fact that this was real, homemade ricotta. Enjoy!!

Crostini with Homemade Ricotta, Honey and Rosemary Pistachios

1 loaf of rustic Italian bread
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 bottle of honey
Homemade Ricotta
Rosemary Pistachios
Homemade Ricotta
1 gallon of whole milk
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan, let it reach 181 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer! Turn off the heat, add the vinegar, lemon juice and salt. As the milk starts to curdle, stir it with a whisk just a few times to mix the lemon and salt. Cover and let the mixture cool down for 2 about two hours. When it is cool, strain it through a cheesecloth over a pot, pressing the curds with a wooden spoon to squeeze out the liquid. It will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
Rosemary Pistachios
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1 cup of roughly chopped pistachios


In a small pan over low heat, melt you butter. Add salt and rosemary. Add the

chopped pistachios and cook until roasted. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Assembling the Crostini
Slice your bread and drizzle with olive oil. Toast until slightly crunchy. Spread the bread with the homemade ricotta, drizzle with some honey and top with the rosemary pistachios. Buon Appetito!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fried Pizzettes with Spicy Onions and Prosciutto di San Daniele

Ciao a tutti!! Remember I mentioned that I am hosting a Halloween Masquerade Pop Up Dinner? Well, this is one of the recipes that I’ll be preparing for the event….Fried Pizzettes with Spicy Onions and Prosciutto di San Daniele. These are just amazing…sinful and delicious. This is basically fried pizza dough that I top with caramelized spicy onions and some crispy Prosciutto di San Daniele. I used my King Arthur Flour Perfect Pizza Blend for the dough, it creates a fantastic product. I swear by King Arthur products, they never disappoint and there website is a bakers paradise, seriously. You can get step by step instructions for your most delicious baking through their Baking Banter blog or one of over 2,000 free recipes online. Learn more about our flours, our commitment to quality, and why you get so much more with King Arthur Flour. I hope you guys enjoy this recipe just as I much as I do! Enjoy!

Fried Pizzettes with Spicy Onions and Prosciutto di San Daniele

Fried Pizzette

2 cups of King Arthur Flour Perfect Pizza Blend
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. mixed dried Italian seasonings
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried active yeast
Warm water, as needed
Vegetable Oil, for frying

Pour your King Arthur Flour Perfect Pizza Blend on a clean, flat surface and shape into a mound. Add salt, dried Italian seasonings mix, olive oil and dried yeast to the flour and mix. Add warm water, just a little at a time, working until you get smooth, dough that is very elastic. Transfer the dough to a bowl and place in a warm spot to rise. While you are waiting for the dough to rise, you can start preparing your onions and Prosciutto di San Daniele….

Caramelized Onions

4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 medium size onions, sliced
2 tbsp. brown sugar

In a medium size pan over medium heat, add your olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Allow the oil to get hot and add your sliced onions. Cook until they have melted down a bit and are slightly caramelized. Add the brown sugar so it can melt. Now you can prepare your crispy Prosciutto di San Daniele!

Crispy Prosciutto di San Daniele!

3 tbsp. olive oil
8 slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele!

In a medium size pan over medium heat, heat your olive oil. Once it is hot, add a few slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele at a time and allow to cook until they are very crispy, do this with all of the slices. Let the slices drain on a paper towel.

When you have finished the onions and prosciutto and when the dough has doubled in volume, heat a large pan with a lot of vegetable oil. Form balls of dough into small, flat shapes with your hands. Put the dough in the hot oil, browning on both sides. Let them cook on each side for at 3-5 minutes, you can play this by ear, but you should certainly be able to see once they are done. After they are done, drain them on paper towels and top each pizzette with a tablespoon or two of the onions and a slice of the Prosciutto di San Daniele. Buon Appetito!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sicilian Braciole

Ciao a tutti!! If you're Italian, odds are..you know what Sunday Gravy is. Sunday Gravy is a rich tomato sauce that the meat simmers in…braciole, sausage, meatballs. There has long been a debate if it's called gravy or sauce...in my family we call it gravy! I know a lot of people who refer to it as both, but for me, it will always be gravy.  This is my Nonna Nettie’s Recipe for braciole, it is a classic Sicilian style made with a stuffing that has pine nuts and raisins…mmmmmm. Enjoy!!


2 pounds of flank steak
¼ cup of raisins
2 tbsp. of red wine
8 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
2 tbsp. onion powder
1 cup of bread crumbs
½ cup parmigiana
½ pignoli
4 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 egg, beaten

Sunday Gravy

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. sliced garlic
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
2 28 ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
6 tbsp. of fresh basil, torn
Meat juice- Yes, meat juice!! From the pans that you cook the braciole, meatballs and sausage in first, add all of that golden liquid to the gravy!!!!

Start off by pounding that flank steak to death with a mallet, no seriously. You want it thin, but not paper thin. If the piece of steak you have is thick enough, you can also butterfly it. I also use a meat tenderizer (which will really break up the meat) and then pounded it. Now you can start making your stuffing. Soak your raisins in the red wine and just let it sit until you are ready for them. Prepare a medium size pan over medium heat with 4 tbsp. of your olive oil. Add your minced garlic and allow it to get soft, but you do not want it to roast or burn. Add salt, pepper and onion powder. Add your bread crumbs and let them toast a little; you will want to see them get slightly golden. Add your parmigiana and continue to mix it all together. Add the pignoli so they toast slightly, again, you don’t want to burn them though and then add the parsley. Take the stuffing off of the heat and allow to cool for ten minutes. Add the beaten egg and thoroughly combine.

Prepare another medium size pan over medium high heat with 4 tbsp. of olive oil. My piece of flank steak with very big, so I cut it into two. However many pieces you have, you will want to start evenly spreading the stuffing on the meat, then concentrate more on the center and be a little more generous. Start rolling the meat like a jellyroll. Once you’re done rolling, either using kitchen string or tooth picks, close the meat. Add it to the pan to fry and slightly cook. In the meantime…prepare your Sunday Gravy….

Prepare a large pot over low heat. Add your olive oil and garlic; allow the garlic to get soft. Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and the tomatoes. Stir. Add onion powder, garlic powder, fresh basil and the meat juice. Stir again and allow to simmer.

Once the braciole has cooked for around 20 minutes, you can now add the braciole to your Sunday Gravy pot. By now, the pot should be on low heat, so you will want the braciole to cook in there for hours….anywhere from 2-6 hours. Seriously, it’s on low so you won’t overcook the meat. What you end up with will be the most tender, braciole ever!! Melt in your mouth good. When it’s done, served a slice with a ton of gravy and some pasta. Buon Appetito!!