No Oven Necessary: Sun-Dried Tomatoes


As Todd and Diane of White on Rice show us, it is completely possible to make  sun-dried tomatoes using the sun. Once you have your batch try  making this delicious baked  brie with sun-dried tomatoes and thyme.

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St. Joseph’s Day

Having been born on St. Joseph’s Day its celebration has always been a mystery to me!  As an adult and lover of Italian food I soon found out about the St. Joseph’s Day Table.  That was my first, but not last, experience with fennel and the rest is history, or so they say. 
Poking round on the Internet I found some pretty amazing sites and Grace at offers some truly authentic Italian recipes to suit most any occasion including the every popular St. Joseph’s Day fritters.  Think you’ll love her site too!
Categories: Dessert Classics, Food, St. Joesph's Day, Zeppole di San Giuseppe | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Polenta Bites with Blue Cheese, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Read More, Recipe by Betty Rosbottom

Photograph by Brian Leatart

Little polenta “tarts” are filled with tomatoes, pine nuts, and blue cheese, then popped into the oven until the cheese melts.
Makes 24
Polenta Bites with Blue Cheese, Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts


  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 ounces soft blue cheese (such as Saga blue), cut into 24 cubes
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 12 grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


  • Lightly butter 24 mini muffin cups (each about 1 3/4 inches in diameter with 1/2-inch-high sides).
  • Bring broth to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Cook until mixture is very thick, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan. Season with salt.
  • Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons hot polenta into each muffin cup. Using back of spoon, pack polenta firmly into cups. Using finger, make indentation in center of each polenta tart for filling. Chill until cold and set, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Using tip of knife, lift polenta tarts from pan. Transfer tarts, indented side up, to prepared baking sheet. Place 1 blue cheese cube in each indentation. Sprinkle green onion and pine nuts over cheese. Top each tart with 2 tomato quarters. Bake until cheese is melted and polenta is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Transfer tarts to platter; sprinkle with basil and serve.
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Sicilian Cannoli Recipe

Cannoli are pretty essential to Italians, especially during the holidays. They’re a must-have along with struffoli at Christmas, grain pies at Easter, and cassata cake and profiteroles on New Year’s. They can be large, they can be small, they can be chocolate-dipped, and even chocolate-filled. This recipe, however, is as classic as they come.

My father used to say that my uncle wasn’t coordinated because all he did at the bakery was make cannoli cream. It’s a big fail for my uncle, but a plus for novice cannoli makers because it’s simple!

For a large party, it’s best to purchase the shells. They’re not hard to find (try your local pastry shop or salumeria) and come in large and mini size.


  • 3 pounds ricotta impastata*
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of cinnamon oil
  • 80 cannoli shells
  • 1 pound chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish


Mix the ricotta impastata in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes. After that, gradually add all of the sugar. Add teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon oil.

Fill the shells on either end and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Add powdered sugar on top for garnish and serve.

Recipe Details

Makes: 80 cannoli
Total time: 10 minutes
Cuisine: Dessert, Italian
Notes and substitutions:

*Note: It can be difficult to find ricotta impastata, but it is essential to this recipe. Your best bet is to look for it online.


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Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Source:, Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis for Food Network Magazine

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 45 min
Serves: 6-8 servings

Photograph by Gemma Comas


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 table spoon granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest and amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. To wrap, return to the pan and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Tuscan-Style Kale Bean Stew

 Cannellini beans give this stew a creaminess and body that will make you forget all about the carbs. If you can’t sit around the house for three hours (and who can, really?), you can try using a slow cooker, or soak the dried beans overnight.

The key to making this stew something really special though, is to make your own stock. But, if you must use store-bought, make sure to get the low-sodium variety. You’ll be cooking this stew for a long time, which means that any salt already present will concentrate.


  • 1 1/3 pounds dried cannellini beans
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 onions, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, tough stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces


Soak the beans for at least 4 hours in enough water to cover.* Store in a cool place. Discard any floaters and drain the beans. Place the beans in an 8-quart stockpot and add the chicken stock, sage leaves, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for about 2 ½ hours, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and brown for five minutes, or until cooked through. Turn the pieces over with tongs about halfway through. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, over low heat, and add the onions, celery, carrot, garlic, and thyme. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Stir occasionally. Set aside.

When the beans are done, add the reserved vegetables and the kale. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook the kale until tender, about 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and serve.

Recipe Serves 8

Total time: 3 hours

*Note: The longer you soak the beans, the less time you’ll have to spend cooking them. Ideally, you should try to soak them overnight.


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Kid Made Ravioli “Lasagna”


Prep: 15 mins
Bake: 40 mins 375°F
Cook: 5 mins

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 26 ounce jar low-sodium pasta sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini (3/4 pound total), trimmed and cut into half moons
  • 2 cups mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (from 10-ounce package)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 12 ounce package fully cooked turkey meatballs, quartered
  • 2 9 ounce packages light four- cheese ravioli (such as Buitoni)
  • 1 8 ounce bag shredded part-skim mozzarella

Make It

1. Heat oven to 375 F. In bowl, stir salt, pepper and sauce. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle 1/2 cup sauce over bottom.

2. In a large nonstick saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

3. Scatter a third of the meatball pieces over sauce on bottom of pan. Top with one package ravioli, 1 cup vegetable mixture, 1 cup of the cheese and second third of the meatball pieces. Top with remaining ravioli, vegetables, meatballs, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.

4. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Uncover dish and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

nutrition facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 8
  • Calories(kcal)450
  • Protein(gm)27
  • Carbohydrate(gm)47
  • Fat, total(gm)18
  • Cholesterol(mg)77
  • Saturated fat(gm)7
  • Dietary Fiber, total(gm)5
  • Sodium(mg)927
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
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Chifeletti – Kipfel (Fried potato gnocchi)

Source: by Manuela Zangara

ChifelettiFried potato gnocchi from the Italian region of Venezia Giulia served as a side dish for roasts.

This week’s Regional Italian dish will take us back to the region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia, Italy’s most North-Eastern region that borders with Austria and Slovenia.  As I have already said in my post about Maiale al Latte – Purcit tal Lat, it is a region that puts together the historically-geographical region of Friuli and that of Venezia Giulia, each with its own history and traditions.  And while Maiale al Latte was from Friuli, today’s recipe comes from Venezia Giulia, the area that borders with Slovenia.  This region has been a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for many years and thus has many cultural and culinary similarities with the other regions and nations of the area, especially with Slovenia and IstriaChifeletti, also called chifel, Kipfel or kifelček, are fried potato dough crescents, typically served as a side dish to accompany roasts or meats with gravy.  The term “chifeletto” comes from the German word “Kipfel” which means “crescent”.  Try them with Friuli’s Maiale al latte and don’t forget to check out all the other Regional Italian recipes here!

Recipe adapted from

Ingredients (makes 30 chifeletti):
1 kg – 2.2 lbs potatoes
1 egg
¾ tsp salt
250 gms – 1 cup flour (to add little by little, you may require more or less depending on the potatoes you are using)

Halve the potatoes and cook them in salted boiling water until tender.

Put the flour on the benchtop.  Then put the warm boiled potatoes in a potato masher (there is no need to peel them as the skin will remain inside the masher) and squeeze them onto the flour.  Add the salt and mix well.  Then add the egg and keep kneading until you get a smooth dough.  You may have to add a little more flour.  The dough will be ready when it won’t stick to the surface anymore, but it is still soft and pliable.  This is the same dough to make potato gnocchi!

Roll the dough into ropes a little over 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick and cut them in pieces 8 cm (3 inches) long.  Then shape them like a crescent.

Deep fry them in warm vegetable oil, drain the excess oil on a piece of kitchen paper and serve hot with a sprinkle of salt on the top.

They make a great side dish for roasts!


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