Friday, October 14, 2011

Breakfast Pizza by Drew

Drew and Stephanie enjoy this breakfast pizza which Drew made for us when I visited him last in Colorado. It's pretty easy and bakes super quick but you have to remember to add the eggs after you put the dough on the stone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making espresso and steaming milk.. Morning coffee

Here is a little video on how I make one of my morning coffee drinks. A huge cup consisting of a double espresso and some steamy fluffy milk.

The technique is quite simple. Think of blowing bubbles into your chocolate milk when you were a kid.  Insert the valve into cold milk, a cold pitcher helps too. Then gently pull it up towards the surface and you will create foam that will come all the way to the top. It is easy to foam cold milk, so make your foam before you heat the rest of the milk. You can spoon it off the top of the pitcher for cappuccino or hold it back to make a caffe latte. At my cafe we made thousands of coffees and really anyone can do it with a little practice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I made a focaccia last night

I decided to make one of my grandma's style pizza or focaccia last night.
Her recipe is similar to Pizza but she added an egg and more olive oil. I kept the oil light in the dough but added  an ample amount on the bottom of the pan before shaping and drizzled some on top of the dough before adding the tomatoes and onions, etc.

The dough.

3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup of warm water with 1 ample teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar, allowed to sit for a few minutes.
1 egg

Mix all together and knead for a few minutes. Allow to doublein size. Pour an ample amount of olive oil on the bottom of a cookie sheet with edges.. (you can use a baking pan as well)   and spread out. Dough is softer than pizza dough and spreads easily.

Allow to proof again till it gets puffy. Add your tomatoes, and anything else you like. I put kalamata olives and some chunks of asiago cheese, then topped with some sliced onion. My tomatoes had 2 cloves of garlic in them and some salt and had sat in the fridge. I used some of the juice that came out but not all of it.

Once this was done, I put it back to proof again and preheated the oven to 500. 

Bake 12 to 15 minutes.. and enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Focaccia Focaccia!

This is a photo of my Gram, me and my brother Vince from 1955.

Here is the olive and rosemary focaccia baked and ready to eat!

Here is the tomato and onion one that I sprinkled with cheese and fresh basil.

My gram made the best focaccia ever. She made it all the time and usually it just had tomatoes and onions on it, and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese and maybe some oregano. It had lots of great olive oil flavor and was spongy on the inside and crusty on the outside. We loved it and never realized what a treat it was because this was " our normal". We didn't know that not everyone got together on Sunday and had delicious plates of meatballs and pasta, with chunks of meat in the sauce. We were used to really delicious food, all the time.

I have my gram's focaccia recipe which I'm going to try again but wanted to try Nancy Silverton's recipe that I found online. There is also a video demonstration.

I made the recipe this past weekend and it was very delicious. I did one with kalamata olive and rosemary, and the other with onion and fresh tomato from my garden. After it was baked, I sprinkled some pecorino on it and some thin slivers of fresh basil. They were both a hit.

It was a lot of work, so next time I will double the recipe. My grams recipe calls for 5 lbs of flour! So you can imagine how much focaccia she made at a time.. enough to have and feed an army.

You can find the recipe online by using google. Nancy Silverton focaccia recipe and video.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Outdoor Summer Dinners Featuring My Tomato Garden

Insalata Caprese

My friend Anna Altomari on the right from Worst Cook in America Season 2.

Lemon Granita with Rasberries

Don't you just love summer dinners outside? I do. I had a few special friends over for dinner the other night. We started with plates of salame, our insalata caprese which consisted of left to right, Early Girls, Heirloom Black Prince, fresh mozzerella, Heirloom Mr. Stripey, German Johnson Heirlooms and more mozzerella, sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with a nice extra virgin olive oil. We ate that and some greek olive tapenade with grilled slices of french baguette and some grilled zucchini.. It was a wonderful way to start a fun evening of great stories and laughter!

For dessert, I made some lemon granita and mixed in a few smashed rasberries and drizzled a bit of triple sec on the top. It was a hit!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Italian Apple Cake (One Bowl Recipe)

I made this cake over the weekend and it is delicious. Moist cake perfect with coffee, and so easy to do. It reminded me of a cake this family made in Bologna where I stayed many years ago. Make sure your olive oil is light and not heavy in flavor. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare a 9 x 13 pan by spraying with pam or buttering or using olive oil to grease it.

Here is the recipe.

Cut and slice 3 to 4 apples.. ( any kind you have)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped walnuts

Now in one bowl...
3 eggs
3/4 cup of LIGHT olive oil
1 1/2 of sugar
2 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla extract
In a large bowl....
Beat the eggs with a fork and add the oil and then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Add the apples and walnuts and mix in till coated.
Pour batter into a well sprayed or buttered or oiled 9x13 baking pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour.
You will love this cake. Super easy and gets better as it sits!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Home grown Tomatoes!

Here are some of the tomatoes from my garden so far. I am going to make a fresh tomato and jalapeno pizza tonight..maybe with a little onion and Italian sausage from Papa Cantella.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Italian Bread

I was so inspired by the pizza and bread photo from Eataly.. I made my Italian loaf last night to enjoy with some friends at an Italian food themed evening. Here are my photos. The recipe can be found on our blog. Italian bread. I made a couple of little rolls as a test. They came out great. About half the cooking time on them and would be excellent for meatball sandwiches.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eataly in New York

My friend Andrea Andi Palombo-Carpenter just visited New York and stopped by Eataly, the new grocery and restaurant by Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich. Two of my favorite chefs.

She tried the "quattro stagioni" pizza and said it was so delicious.. and sent me a couple of photos! Thanks Andrea! Now I want to go.. why can't we have something like this here in California?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I made some Meatballs the other day....

I made these meatballs the other day and they were amazing. They just don't get any better than this.

It took me about 1 hour to make everything and I let them slow cook for about 3 hours. The house smelled so good that I had to make something else to eat while it cooked.

I followed our own blog recipes to make everything.



I doubled the meatballs and made 2 pounds. I took a shortcut and added the meatballs raw into the already cooking sauce. We ate it with pasta two nights and had meatball sandwiches two other nights. (And I few a meatballs here and there between meals.) Each day it seemed to taste better than the last.

It's really easy and it's the best damn meatball I've ever had. You have to try it.

Edit:  Theresa got hungry after reading this post and made some meatballs.  Here is a picture she sent to me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Backyard Tomato Plants

Every Italian I know loves to grow their own tomatoes in their garden and I am no exception. I live in Aliso Viejo, CA so we have a long growing season here. I planted my first one back in April and put the rest in sometime in late May.

Here is a video of what I have so far.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whole wheat penne with peppers and goat cheese

Here is another quick and easy dish. Saute your peppers with some garlic and olive oil, or pre roast them.. add some fresh mushrooms and saute till cooked. Toss your al dente wheat pasta into the skillet and add a couple of nice pieces of goat cheese to melt in. Add hot pepper seeds and garnish with some fresh basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The best part of waking up

Always trying to make some fun designs.

Christmas Sprinkles

Smooth and delicious double espresso

Morning Latte

Is there anything better than a great cup of coffee in the morning?
I love Illy espresso and milk for my morning latte.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Artichoke Pasta ( Quick and Easy)

One of my favorite quick pastas is with a vegetable and olive oil, garlic and cheese.

Here is one that is super easy.

Frozen artichoke hearts

Olive oil or olive oil and butter

Fresh garlic

Your favorite cheese ( romano, asiago, or combo)

salt and pepper, hot pepper flakes

Cream if you like it richer or creamy

Saute your defrosted artichoke hearts in your butter or olive oil mix. Add chopped garlic, hot pepper seeds and salt and pepper. Do this while you are boiling a pot of water for your pasta.

Cook pasta al dente, drain and add to your artichoke mixture. Toss with cream if you like, or just add your cheese and a little of the pasta water to blend the flavors. Quick, easy and delicious! You can do this with peas, spinach, or any other green or veggie that you like. Try it.. supper in a hurry!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Outdoor Pizza Making

Last night we made 4 great pizzas on the grill with the help of a pizza stone and this other flat metal pizza grill pan with holes in it.

We built our pizzas on a peel..

Started them on the metal grill pan

Then transferred to the pizza stone. Keep the grill at approximately 450 or so. You will need to know your grill and turn the pizza if the back is hotter than the front. This will cook all your meats, onions, etc as if it were in a regular oven.

The result was amazing and this time we took a shortcut and used pre-made dough from Fresh and Easy. They were fantastic. My friend Campbell here is getting really good at this.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Italian Bread

5 and 3/4 Cups of flour

1 tsp sugar ( white or brown)

4 t. dry yeast

2 cups warm water

3 T. Olive Oil

2 T. Sea Salt
sesame seeds or poppy seeds
1 beaten egg white with water added

Mix the sugar, warm water and yeast in a small bowl and let bloom for 5 to 10 minutes. It should foam up and expand. This tells you your yeast is working.

Add the flour, salt and olive oil to a large Cuisinart or mixer and blend, then add the water mixture. It should form to a dough within a minute or so.. if too wet, add more flour, if too dry add some water to get a nice dough consistency.

You either have to keep it kneading in the machine for 3 to 5 minutes till very smooth or put out on the counter and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic.

Put in a large oiled or Pam sprayed bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let double. About an hour or so depending on the day.

Then put the dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down to a circular or rectangle shape. Start to roll the dough into a loaf..( like a jelly roll) and then seal the edges with some water if needed. Place your loaf on a well floured pizza peel or baking pan, cover again with a damp cloth and let rise again till about doubled. I have a video of what it should look like. Get a sharp knife or razor blade and cut several slits diagonally across the loaf. Brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with the sesame seeds so they stick on. Spray the dough with water and then put into your preheated oven. It must be hot! I use a pizza stone to bake mine on but a cookie sheet will work too.

Bake in preheated 425 degree oven. After 4 minutes, spray the bread again with water and let go another 4 minutes.. spray with water again. This will make 3 times including the first spray prior to baking. You now have another 37 minutes or so to go with your baking time. Loaf should sound hollow if you tap it on the bottom. Sometimes it takes a little less time. Just use your common sense.. but most likely you will need to bake at least 37 plus minutes total. This is so delicious and sometimes I let it cool and slice it thin for pot lucks.. it makes delicious toast! Just an all around great bread. Try it and you will love it.

Cooks note: Don't rush your bread. It has to rise to get the light and fluffy interior consistency. Once you get the hang of it, you will love making bread and pizzas. Note that in the video of putting bread in the oven, I stated that I would lower oven temp, but that is not true. Bakes at 425 degrees for the entire time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Italian Easter Breads

Our friend Maria Altomari makes these every year for Easter..a traditional bread from southern Italy. Here is my mom and grandma's recipe. We call them Scarcelle. You can make these for Easter or just cut into shapes or use cookie cutters and brush with milk and sprinkle with Sugar or colored beads.

Here is the recipe.

3 Cups Flour
3 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cube butter or margarine
3 t baking powder
2 t vanilla

Mix flour , sugar and baking powder together. Make a well and add the 3 beaten eggs, vanilla and melted butter or margarine. Mix until it goes together but do not knead. Add warm milk if necessary to bring the dough together. Form into a ball. Roll out small sections of the dough and shape or cut with cookie cutters. Add the egg to the large ones for Easter, brush with milk and sprinkle with colored beads. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 oven. Till lightly browned. My gram always tested hers first to see how long it would take. This is the recipe they gave me. Good luck . We make these for all the holidays and they are great coffee dipping cookies too. The larger shapes stay much more moist because of their size. NOTE you do not need to cook the egg first. It cooks in the oven. Note: You can put the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the wet liquid and mix with wooden spoon but do not beat with a mixer. Theresa (recipe from Teresa Cea and Marcia Vinciguerra)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ricotta Cheesecake

This is a delicious cheesecake that we always had on the holidays. We call it "pizzadolce" Here is the recipe. My friends ask me for it all the time. Makes a big one so you can cut it in half if you want.

3 lbs good ricotta
2 cups sugar
18 Eggs ( yes this many)
1 t. cinnamon grated peel of one lemon
2 shots of bourbon or whiskey
1 Can of fruit cocktail, drained pieces of chocolate.
My gram used 2 or 3 hershey bars broken into pieces.

Mix the ricotta and sugar with a beater and then add eggs 3 at a time till well blended. Add the cinnamon and bourbon. Prepare your pan. Either grease and flour or use parchment on the bottom. Pour into a large springform pan or line an oblong pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture in. Sprinkle the fruit over the batter so it is somewhat evenly distributed and do the same with the chocolate pieces. Oven preheated to 400 to start. for 20 minutes. Then lower to 350 and cook till tests clean with toothpick. About 1 and 1/2 hour for cheesecake style and a little less for oblong.

Once it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with sugar lightly and let rest. It will come down some. This is so delicious chilled and tastes better a couple days later so you can make ahead of time. This is my grandma Teresa Cea's recipe

Thursday, January 20, 2011


6 Eggs
3 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 sticks butter melted
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp Vanilla or other extract ( add anise seeds if desired , I use about 1/4 cup)

Beat eggs and sugar together with a whisk or beater. Add Flour and baking powder ( Mixture will be stiff) Add melted butter and vanilla or other flavorings You will need a Pizzelle Iron. Place about a tablespoon at a time on the iron and cook till the color of your choice. Remove and rest on a rack till cool. Once cooled you can stack them up. My good friend Anna Altomari and I are making these. Anna was recently on the Worst Cooks in America. She really doesn't know what she is doing in the kitchen but she loves to learn!