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Crema di ricotta (Ricotta Mousse)

Ricotta has got to be the most versatile of Italian cheeses: it makes its way into a variety of savory pasta dishes, from the popular pasta con la ricotta to the iconic ricotta-filled ravioli and—of course—southern-style lasagna, and any number of desserts, from the grand Neapolitan pastiera to the elegant budino di ricotta to my grandmother’s humble pizza dolce. […]

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Babà (Neapolitan Rum Cake)

I remember this indulgently delicious rum-soaked Neapolitan dessert from my childhood, when it made frequent appearances on the Sunday dinner table along with other typical southern Italian sweets. The last time I had babà was around 2003 in Naples, in a caffè in the Galleria Umberto I. It was, needless to say, a memorable experience. […]

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Montebianco (Montblanc)

Montebianco—which most English speakers know by its French name Montblanc even if the dish originated in Italy—is an elegant dessert often served for Christmas, but, to my mind, it is a perfect conclusion to any festive occasion in the late autumn or winter. Named after the highest peak of the Alps straddling the border between France and Italy, Montebianco […]

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Macedonia di frutta (Fruit Salad)

Macedonia di frutta, or Italian fruit salad, is one of the most typical of summer desserts in Italy, often served with some lemon sorbet. But a macedonia can be made any time of year, with almost any combination of fruits in season. Ingredients Fresh fruit in season, trimmed, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces Sugar Freshly […]

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Zabaione (Zabaglione)

Zabaione is  a classic sweet that you don’t encounter much any more on restaurant menus, let alone on home tables. That’s a shame, because it’s truly delicious and supremely versatile, equally suited to serve on its own as a sweet ending to an important meal or a warm and substantial beverage drunk as a quick […]

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Taralli dolci, or “Nana’s Cookies”

This is a recipe near and dear to my heart. It was one of Angelina’s signature dishes. When I was a kid, our family called these “Nana’s Cookies”, and I really thought that only my nana made them. Well, just as I found out that the honey balls Angelina made for Christmas were  actually called […]

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Budino di ricotta (Ricotta Pudding)

This elegant but easy dessert is a kind of dressed up version of Angelina’s humble pizza dolce. The basic recipe for this ‘pudding’ calls for just ricotta, eggs and sugar, and it’s perfectly delicious at its simplest. But, if you like,  you can add various the fillings and toppings according to the season and your […]

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Torta di mele (Apple Torte)

A quick post as we prepare to batten down the hatches before Sandy hits town: Here’s a homely version of an apple torte that could hardly be easier. And believe me, if a non-baker like myself can make this with no trouble at all, you will, too. You just make a simple batter in your […]

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Zuppa inglese (Italian Trifle)

Zuppa inglese, literally “English soup”, is actually neither English nor a soup. It is a classic Italian dessert, but the name is apt nevertheless. Its texture is very reminiscent of the bread-thickened soups so typical of the cookery of central Italy, only sweet and cool rather than savory and hot—a kind of cousin to the […]

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Ciliegie su ghiaccio (Cherries on Ice)

 A quick note on a fine and fun way to enjoy cherries and lots of other summer fruits—su ghiaccio or ‘on ice’. Fill a bowl a third or half full of ice, place your fruit—however much you’re having—over the ice and add water to come, say, halfway up the fruit. Serve. Yep, that’s the ‘recipe’! […]

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Angelina’s Pizza Dolce (Italian Cheesecake)

For most of us, pizza means just one thing: a round disk of dough topped with tomato, mozzarella and other goodies and baked in a hot oven. But the word ‘pizza’ can also refer to a sweet pie, typically made with ricotta and eggs, flavored with sugar and other things, called pizza dolce di ricotta. Angelina […]

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Ananas alla sambuca (Pineapple Laced with Sambuca)

   Here’s a really quick note on a combination that may surprise you but was simply meant to be: pineapple and the Italian anise liquor called sambuca. Sprinkle a few drops of sambuca over freshly sliced pineapple, just enough to exalt the flavor of the fruit without drawing attention to itself, and you’ll be in […]

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Bignè di san Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day Cream Puffs)

Being a Catholic country, Father’s Day is Italy is celebrated on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. The feast is associated with a number sweet and savory dishes, but none more so perhaps than the  fancy, sweet version of zeppole usually called, appropriately enough, zeppole di san Giuseppe. Romans  make their own homier version […]

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Chiacchiere (Fried “Ribbons”)

I wasn’t much on sweets even as a kid, but these little sugar-dusted ribbons of fried dough—variously known as chiacchiere, nastrini, stracci, cenci, frappe and a myriad of other names—were my one weakness in the sweets department. They are a traditional treat for Carnival, a time for over-indulgence, culinary and otherwise, getting in your ‘last […]

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Zeppole con le alici (Savory Zeppole with Anchovy)

Zeppole are so easy to make—after all, they are basically just fried pizza dough balls—it is almost embarrassing to post about it, but since it was one of my favorite snack foods that Angelina made, it deserves pride of place on this blog. And, in any event, who doesn’t like fried dough? Zeppole can be […]

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How to Roast Chestnuts

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose… Toasted chestnuts evoke wistful holidays images of days gone by. But how many of us have actually roasted chestnuts on an open fire? Too few, I imagine. And a shame, too, since anyone with a fireplace can do it easily. All you need […]

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Struffoli!

  Struffoli, small balls of dough fried and then covered in honey, is the quintessential Christmas sweet of Naples and its region of Campania. Although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, it is very dear to my heart; it was one of nonna Angelina’s signature dishes, and it never failed to make an […]

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Tiramisù

Here’s an elegant dessert ‘cake’ that even non-bakers like myself can make easily. The truth is, the ‘cake’ part of this dessert consists of those elegant elongated cookies called ‘ladyfingers’ in English and savoiardi in Italian. The ladyfingers are lightly dipped in espresso, then layered with mascarpone creamed with egg, sugar and marsala, then ‘baked’ […]

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