Tag Archives: Spotlight

How to Make Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi are one of the easier types of ‘pasta’ to make at home and most definitely worth the effort. The mini-hockey pucks that are sold commercially as potato gnocchi are, to put it bluntly, hardly worth eating—especially after you’ve tried the real thing. The best homemade gnocchi are as light and airy as a down […]

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A Beginner’s Guide to Authentic Italian Food

Part I: The Varieties of Italian Cooking This post walks you through the principal types of Italian cooking you are likely to encounter from true Italian food, the kind they make in Italy, to Italian Diaspora cooking, which at its best has an authenticity all its own, to the more dubious ‘Italian-style’ cooking and just […]

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Tomato Sauce 101

I’m all for convenience when it actually makes life simpler, but it’s always been a mystery to me why people buy those jars of wretched “spaghetti sauce” that line our supermarket shelves when you can make real tomato sauce with only a tiny bit more time and effort. I suspect that many people are simply […]

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Pane casereccio (Homemade Bread)

I am not a baker. Never have been. I have always found stove-top cooking fun and easy but baking is a very different art. Cooking lets you stir and taste and adjust as you go along to get things to come out just right. But with baking—once you close that oven door, your success is […]

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How to Dress a Salad “all’italiana”

The proper dressing of a salad has got to be one of the most overlooked techniques in all of cookery. For many people, a salad is something so common that it hardly merits thinking about. But there is actually a kind of art to this everyday task that can really transform your salads from the pedestrian […]

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How to Make a Frittata

One of the wonders of Italian cuisine is its incredible variety, and much of that variety comes from the mix-and-match nature of so many of its dishes. You take a staple base ingredient like rice or pasta, and you pair that with all sorts of flavoring ingredients and come up with literally hundreds of variations […]

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The Italian Pantry

Every cuisine has a collection of dry, canned, preserved and fresh staple ingredients that form the backbone of its repertoire. These staples show up time and again in countless dishes and define the characteristic tastes and textures of the cuisine. Italian cuisine is no different, and enormous regional variations in the cuisine notwithstanding, the Italian […]

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Gelato: The Basic Recipe

Let’s continue our exploration of Italian frozen desserts. We have already gone over the basic recipe for the elegant sorbetto, so today we’ll take a look at the basic recipe everyone’s favorite summer dessert: ice cream! The Italian version of ice cream, called gelato, meaning simply ‘frozen’, is typified by the density of its texture […]

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How to Make Polenta

Polenta is one of the most emblematic dishes of the northern Italian cuisines from the Veneto to Lombardia to Piemonte. It is also one of the oldest foods eaten in Italy, dating back at least to 990 BCE. In its original form, polenta—known to the ancient Romans as pulmentum—was a porridge made from spelt. In […]

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How to make broth

Making broth is so easy to do, and the results are so wonderful and so almost infinitely useful, I really don’t understand why it’s almost disappeared from home cooking. Well, actually, I can guess: fewer and fewer people cook anything at all, let along things like homemade broth, which has an undeserved reputation for being […]

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Buying canned tomatoes

Here’s a special note for readers in the US, where buying canned tomatoes can be tricky thing. When I first moved back from Italy, I ran into all sorts of trouble trying to find a brand of canned tomatoes that ‘behaved’ properly. The main problem being that, for some reason I could not fathom, no […]

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Minestrone: A Primer

Many people think of minestrone as the kind of hearty fare best eaten in the cold weather months. Minestrone is wonderful in fall and winter, of course, but it can actually be enjoyed year-round, its component ingredients changing with the seasons, served hot in the winter, warm in the spring or autumn, and even ‘cold’ […]

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How to make fresh egg pasta

When making fresh home-made egg pasta, variously known in Italian as pasta fresca or pasta fatta in casa or pasta all’uovo, I usually make life easy for myself by using my trusty KitchenAid mixer to form and knead the pasta dough and then the pasta attachments to roll out and cut the dough into various […]

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Italian Food Culture: A primer

There is much more to Italian food culture than many people outside Italy realize. Mastering the art of Italian cooking is not just a matter of learning recipes but rather requires coming to understand a whole approach to the preparation and eating of food. This approach can be understood, among other ways, through a series […]

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Risotto: The Basic Recipe

  It’s actually not the kind of thing that Angelina made, she being from a small town in southern Italy and risotto being a traditionally northern Italian dish, but still, risotto is one of my favorite things to make, and one of the most versatile of dishes. You can use almost anything–meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables […]

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