Oranges all’italiana

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This is even better if you can find Sicilian blood oranges! –Jackie Capurro

  • 4 large oranges
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon grappa or other liqueur 
  • 2 tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • mint leaves for garnish
  1. Peel the oranges, and cut them into large rounds about 1/2-inch thick
  2. Place each slice in a large frying pan, sprinkle with the sugar, and add the raisins. (You may have to do this in two batches.)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons water, and cook over high heat for the first 3 minutes.
  4. Lower the heat, and cook for 4 more minutes, flipping the oranges halfway through.
  5. Pour in the grappa, and let it evaporate.
  6. Arrange the oranges on a plate, add the sauce from the pan, and let cool to room temperature (do not put in the refrigerator)
  7. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, and serve, garnished with mint. Serves 4.

Amaretto Cake

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  • 3/4 c butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c amaretto liqueur
  • 1 t finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 t vanilla

    Syrup / Glaze

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T light corn syrup
  • [1/2 c amaretto liqueur – optional]


  1. Generously grease and flour six 4-inch fluted tube pans or one 6-cup fluted tube pan.
  2. Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  In a small mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and nutmeg.  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Beat on medium-high speed, adding the 3/4 c sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, about 6 minutes or until mixture is very light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in the 1/4 c amaretto, lemon peel, and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition, scraping bowl often.  Gradually add the flour mixture to butter mixture, beating on medium-low speed just till combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).  Bake in a 325° oven 20-25 minutes for the miniature pans, 40-45 minutes for the large single pan, or until toothpick tests clean.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cake(s) from pan(s).  Cool thoroughly on racks.  Prick fluted top and sides of each cake generously with tines of fork.
  5. For syrup, in a medium saucepan, combine the remaining, 1/3 c sugar, water, brown sugar, and corn syrup.  Cook and stir over medium heat till bubbly and most of the sugar is dissolved; remove from heat.  [Stir in the 1/2 c amaretto.]  Cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Dip fluted top and sides of each cooled miniature cake into syrup.  Place cakes on a wire rack above a tray of cookie sheet.  Spoon or brush any remaining syrup over tops of cakes.  (For large cake, do not attempt to dip!  Brush syrup on tops and sides of cake while on rack, allowing excess to drip into tray/cookie sheet below.)
  7. Wrap individual cakes in plastic wrap or cellophane; chill, fluted side up, for up to 3 weeks.  Or transfer to a tightly covered container to chill.

Makes 6 miniature cakes or 1 large cake (24 servings)

Italian Anise Cookies

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These are the cookies that I shared at the 2008 IFAFA Conference in Sacramento. -Linda Coda Brigante


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp anise extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Decoration: multicolored nonpareils


  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat baking sheet(s) with non-stick spray.
  2. Dough: beat first 5 ingredients in a large bowl with mixer until blended. On low
    speed, beat in next 3 ingredients, until blended.
  3. Drop rounded measuring teaspoons of dough 2 in. apart onto the prepared baking sheet(s). (I used a small ice cream scoop to make a ball.)
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until bottoms are light golden. (Be sure to pre-heat oven. I baked the cookies about 15 minutes, gently lifting the cookie to check the bottoms. Be sure not to over bake.) Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Dip tops of cookies in Glaze and while wet, sprinkle with nonpareils. (Take a cookie, dip or spread glaze and then sprinkle. Do not glaze the batch and then sprinkle, the glaze will have already hardened.) Let set. Store airtight at room temperature up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 month.


Whisk 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 to 5 tsp milk and 1 tsp anise extract in a small bowl until smooth.

The recipe stated it made 80 cookies. Using the small ice cream scoop, it made 40 cookies.

Penne alla Vodka

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Tasted this for the first time in Toronto, prior to driving to Buffalo , NY, for the 1997 IFAFA Conference. Got the recipe from the restaurant owner! -Jackie Capurro

  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1/2 lb smoked pancetta* in one piece
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 oz brandy
  • 8 oz vodka
  • 1/2 pt. heavy cream
  • 1/4 lb parmesan cheese, freshly grated or shredded
  • 1 can of 28 oz peeled tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste


Cut up the pancetta in small cubes and sauté in butter till crispy.
Pour the brandy over the pancetta; let simmer a couple of minutes, then flame CAREFULLY.  (Use a LONG fireplace match!)
Add the cream, then the tomatoes crushed with a fork.  Add the vodka, salt & pepper and cook for 20 minutes.
Pour over cooked pasta and add parmesan cheese.  Serve hot.

* Pancetta is Italian bacon, sometimes found at a good deli.  It is almost like unsliced bacon, but smokier. If pancetta is not available, thick-sliced smoked bacon makes an OK substitute.

Garbanzo Pesto Dip

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Freshly-prepared home-made pesto is best, but you can substitute store-bought, usually found in a jar in the Italian/pasta aisle. -Jackie Capurro

Preparation time:  15 minutes

  • 1   can (16 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1   cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
  • 1/2   cup chopped red bell peppers and/or drained sun dried tomatoes
  • 2   tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Assorted crackers
  • Assorted fresh vegetables, cut upCoarsely mash beans with fork or pastry blender. Stir in sour cream, pesto, red pepper/tomatoes, lemon juice and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Serve with assorted crackers and cut up fresh vegetables.Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Garlic Artichoke Dip

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What better combination than two of Italy’s tastiest ingredients: garlic and artichokes! -Jackie Capurro

  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 cup freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small can chopped green chili peppers, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushedMix all ingredients in bowl. Spoon into baking
    dish and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
    Serve hot with crackers or Italian bread.

Italian Almond Torte

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This is a torte, not a cake, and will stay quite flat. Be prepared for pointed questions about what happened to your cake … until people taste it. -Jackie Capurro

  • 1 8-oz can almond paste
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 T dry-roasted sunflower seedsCrumble the almond paste into a large bowl with your fingers or a fork. With a mixer, blend in all the remaining ingredients except for the sunflower seeds.

    Spread the batter evenly in a 9-inch removable-bottomed cake pan that has been buttered and floured. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top.

    Bake at 325°F for 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove outer rim of pan.  Wrap in plastic after torte has cooled.

    Serves 8.