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Danette St. Onge

Danette\'s Italian Food Blog

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Not Just Mac & Cheese (Maccheroni alla mortadella al forno)

Saturday May 31, 2014
Yes, this baked maccheroni casserole is essentially mac & cheese, but on a whole different level -- as with much Italian food, it's a simple preparation, but with quality ingredients that make all the difference. It's a quick, easy, and immensely satisfying dish which can easily be a main course when paired with a green salad or any other vegetable side. Get the recipe:

The Top 10 Myths about Pasta

Saturday May 31, 2014
It seems like one of the easiest things in the world to cook: You boil some water, throw in some pasta, set the timer for the minutes indicated on the package, add a little oil to keep it from sticking, the buzzer rings and voila! It's done. Throw it onto some plates, ladle lots of sauce on top and you have dinner. Simple, right? And yet, in my opinion, there is no worse mistake in Italian food than soggy, overcooked pasta (and it's far too common). Misconceptions about pasta and the best way to cook it still abound, while methods and tips that Italians consider common knowledge might be news to many. Read on for everything you always wanted to know about cooking pasta (but were afraid to ask).

Street Eats, Italian Style

Saturday May 31, 2014
Mangiamaccheroni in a street in NaplesStreet food -- in the form of pop-up stands or roaming food trucks -- is growing more and more popular in the U.S., but throughout the world and history, street kitchens have long been the primary type of public eating establishment, before the birth of the restaurant as we know it today. In Italy, street food has existed since at least Ancient Roman times, when counter-serve "snack bars" called thermopoliasold hot prepared dishes. And pizza and pasta, two of the most famous Italian foods, started out as on-the-go snacks. In 19th-century Naples, it was normal to eat maccheroni at street vendors -- with one's hands! Pasta is no longer considered a street food (or a finger food, for that matter), but quick eats persist to this day throughout Italy at kiosks, stands, and food trucks. Here are some recipes for typical Italian street foods, to recreate the experience in your own kitchen.

The Bean Eaters

Saturday May 31, 2014
Il mangiafagioli by Annibale Carracci, 1584In the past, Tuscans were called mangiafagioli("bean eaters") by other Italians, a clue to how important a part the ""poor man's meat" played in the Tuscan diet. Beans don't have quite such a central role these days, yet still appear in many traditional Tuscan dishes. And now that we know what nutritional powerhouses they are -- rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals yet low in fat, calories, and cholesterol -- it seems that bean-eating is due for a comeback! Here then, a couple of great legume recipes. (Image: Il mangiafagioli by Annibale Carracci, 1584)
 

A Niçoise-style sandwich: Pane alla nizzarda

Saturday May 31, 2014
Although I write about Italian food, I've just moved to France (Paris, to be precise), so the food traditions of the Mediterranean town of Nice (Nizza in Italian), with their strong Italian influences, are particularly interesting to me. The cuisine of the French Riviera town -- perhaps the most well-known examples being salade niçoise, tapenade, and ratatouille -- blends typical Provençal ingredients and cooking methods with those of the Italian regions of Liguria and Piemonte and often features olives, olive oil, anchovies, and plenty of vegetables. Think of it as French-Italian fusion! Read more and get the recipe...

The Perfect Dessert for Spring and Summer?

Saturday May 31, 2014
Panna cotta with berries
It just might be panna cotta, which, despite its name (it translates literally as "cooked cream"), actually doesn't require much cooking, and certainly doesn't involve turning on an oven. This delicate cream-based spoon dessert, thickened with gelatin and served chilled, is also quite easy to make but makes an elegant impression when served at the end of a meal. You can serve it with fresh berries or a simple chocolate sauce, fruit compote or coulis. Recipe for Panna Cotta A traditional and popular Italian dessert originating in the Piemonte region. Get the recipe.

Spring Vegetables

Monday April 21, 2014
Make the most of in-season produce with these recipes that feature springtime fruits and vegetables.

Buona Pasqua! Italian Easter Recipes

Monday April 14, 2014
Italians celebrate Easter in may ways throughout the different regions, but generally with chocolate eggs for the children containing toy surprises, roast lamb or goat, spring vegetables such as artichokes, and a colomba (dove) a cake made with the same dough as panettone but baked in the shape of a bird and topped with coarse pearl sugar and/or almonds. As a special Easter chocolate treat, together with a variety of traditional Easter recipes we have a recipe for decadent Bacio brownies, made with the famed chocolates from the Perugina brand. Buona Pasqua a tutti!

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Monday March 31, 2014
Even in Italy, the land where the Slow Food movement originated, people are busier than ever these days. On a lazy Sunday you might have time to slow-cook your ragu' for hours, but on a weeknight, if you're just getting home from work, you're tired, and you don't have a lot of time or energy, you probably want something faster and simpler. Here are some dishes you can have on the table in less than 30 minutes, either start-to-finish, or by making them ahead of time and simply reheating!

Happy San Giuseppe's Day!

Wednesday March 19, 2014

The holidays in Italy seem endless, and each one has its special associated foods, which might differ from region to region. Part of the reason for so many holidays is the fact that every single day of the calendar year is the Feast Day of one or more Catholic saints. This doesn't mean that every day is a holiday in Italy, of course. March 17, for instance, the feast day of San Patrizio (better known in the English-speaking world as Saint Patrick), is not celebrated in Italy. (He is the patron saint of Ireland, after all.)

Food and the Feast Day of San Giuseppe
Today, though, March 19, the Feast Day of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph), is celebrated throughout Italy and in many Italian American communities. It's also Father's Day in Italy and it's traditionally celebrated with fried or baked pastries originating in Naples called zeppole (also known as bigne' or sfinge/sfingi/sfinci), They're usually filled with pastry cream or ricotta and dusted with sugar. Read more...

Fava Bean and Fennel Soup
One of the dishes traditionally served on the Feast Day of San Giuseppe, in Sicily, this velvety, flavorful puree incorporates the fava bean, considered a lucky charm as well as a token of St. Joseph. See the recipe for Fava Bean and Fennel Soup (Macco di fave e finocchietto).

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