Ballo Abruzzese

This suite of dances from the Abruzzi is a medley of three dances performed in a circle. Dancers and musicians don’t break between dances, and the increasing liveliness of the dances seems truly made for the pleasure of the dancer and of those who watch them. The influence of fashionable parlor dances of the past century is clearly evident. Nonetheless, it is the peasants who dance this. Continue reading “Ballo Abruzzese”


Italian Expressions and Poetry About Food

Enjoy the following regional sayings and poems which illustrate the Italians’ love for food

Quote Meaning
Quando un contadino mangia un pollo, o è ammalato l’uno o è ammalato l’altro When a peasant eats a chicken, either one or the other is sick (since chickens produce eggs, killing one to eat it only makes sense if the chicken is sick, or if it is needed to make a sick person well.)
 Insalata, ben salata,  poco aceto, molto oliata,  mille volte rivoltata.  Greens, well salted,  little vinegar, well-oiled,  tossed one thousand times!

An old expression describing the best way to prepare a salad. Notice ben salata  – the Romans liked to use a lot of salt, since salt was money and it showed that they had wealth. Both the word insalata  and our Englishword ‘salary’ come from the Italian word for salt: sale

 Il magnar non vale un’acca se alla fine non sa di vacca.  A meal is worthless if it doesn’t taste of milk at the conclusion

Lombardo expression, denoting their love for cheese at the end of a meal

 El vin bon,  l’omo bravo,  e la dona bela,  dura poco Good wine, the trustworthy man, and the beautiful woman don’t last long

–Old Proverb from Friuli

 


Oranges all’italiana


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

Cake

  • 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]

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Italian Anise Cookies

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

Dough:

  • 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

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Penne alla Vodka

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

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

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

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.


Painting With Stone

Florence, Tuscany – Take time to visit this tiny jewel in Florence: the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. Literally meaning “Factory of Hard Stones”, this lovely museum is an excellent antidote to “compulsory tourist sites” overload. The subject of its collection is semiprecious stone and its use in intarsio (inlay) for the production of all sorts of decoration.

The craft of inlay work goes back to antiquity, but it was revived on a grand scale by Ferdinando I de’ Medici for the decoration of the furnishings, artworks, and architecture seen today all over Florence. In fact this Grand Ducal workshop was established to carry out the elaborate stone inlay work found in the Cappella dei Principi (Basilica of San Lorenzo). The art of assembling stone fragments to cover large or small surfaces, including objects, furniture or whole walls, was studied and perfected by skillful and carefully chosen artisans.

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