Health benefits of honey [and two recipes]

Besides the health benefits of honey, don’t you think that there is something magical about eating and cooking with a liquid gold, sweet ingredient which comes from bees and flowers?

In an era where food has become more refined and industrialized and has lost its more natural state, people are eating enormous quantity of different foods but they are not actually giving fuel and nutritional substances to their bodies.

Food should provide minerals and vitamins necessary for the body to function at its full and best potential, many packaged foods however are merely “empty calories” and refined sugar.

Refined sugar can be easily replaced with other more nutritional ingredients such as: Stevia, good quality organic maple syrup and honey. The health benefits of honey are far greater than many artificial sweeteners. Besides there is a variety of qualities available: one for any individual taste.

You can choose among many different kind: personally I like lavender honey but also citrus fruits honey and chestnut honey. Other kinds of honey that I find delicious and beneficial are: lime, rosemary and dandelion.

I want you to know that in Italy, where I live, there are a set of plants and herbs which together form what is known as the Mediterranean Maquis. Some of these herbs are: thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, myrtle, juniper, olive trees and many others. But also fragrant herbs like oregano and basil which have lots of health benefits.

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Italian pastries made easy

Making Italian pastries at home is not an easy process. It requires time, skill and patience. Italian puff pastry though it’s a perfect base to make a variety of Italian desserts.

You can combine Italian pastries with ricotta cheese to make traditional Cannoli from Sicily for example. Or you can combine your puff pastry with custard and other ingredients to make all sorts of tarts and cakes.

One of my favorite Italian desserts of all time is Sfogliatelle. These are small, crispy and fragrant Italian pastries originally from Naples in Southern Italy. You can find Sfogliatelle filled with any sorts of cream: custard cream, hazelnuts cream, pistachios cream. They are delicious and usually coated with icing sugar.

My Italian Grandma loves to use puff pastry to make apple tarts. She has two versions of her special apple tarts recipe: one is made with shortcrust pastry and the other with puff pastry. I can tell you that they are both delicious, besides she uses pine nuts, raisin and almonds which are ingredients that I love. Not only that she also has her secret custard cream recipe that really makes the difference in the taste of her very special and mouth-watering apple tarts.*

When you have puff pastry there really is no limits to what you can create. You can make Italian pastries of any kind including Sfogliatelle and Cannoli or you can combine your puff pastry with your favorite choice of fruits and berries or with all sorts of jams.

But there is however an easier recipe to make puff pastry and here is one that I’d like to suggest you so that you can have puff pastry available and then start creating some of the most delicious Italian pastries recipes.

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Italian sausage recipe [as dessert?]

So you probably want to know all about Italian sausage recipe right?

The thing about cooking Italian sausage is that it can be so different from one region to the other but not only. One characteristic that distinguishes different types of Italian sausage is the kind of meat that you can find in the sausage itself. That’s right. Not every sausage is made equally!

The Italian sausage recipe is very ancient and the origins are uncertain. Some say it’s from northern Italy and the region Veneto (where Venice is) some other say it’s from southern region Basilicata. But there is one thing that everybody agrees on and it’s the fact that the first Italian sausage was made with pork meat.

Some Italian sausage recipes are spicier than others. One very common thing is to find Italian sausage with fennel seeds which I personally find pretty good actually because the taste of the fennel lessens the greasy taste of pork meat.

Italian sausage recipes vary from place to place and besides the meat and the use of spices like nutmeg, black pepper, fennel seeds or coriander they can also be different in length and width.

One Italian sausage recipe that my Grandma really likes and it’s also very popular is Italian sausage and peppers. Usually she prefers cooking Italian sausage with green peppers.

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Meatball recipe: all Italian classic

So you want to know about Grandma’s all Italian meatball recipe?

This is a real classic of Italy’s culinary tradition and everyone has its own version of it or even its own family meatball recipe.

There a various meatball recipes: some people like meatballs with tomato sauce, some like to cook white sauce meatball recipe, some prefer the baked meatball recipe.

In southern Italy there is a very easy meatball recipe. I say easy because it’s really just rolled minced meat that they add to Spaghetti tomato sauce and it’s delicious. In northern Italy Ragù – which is a tomato sauce with minced meat in it – is more common that tomato sauce with meatballs on Spaghetti.

If you ever come to Italy you’ll be surprised of how many different version of meatball recipe you can find.

Some places and restaurants serve very tiny and small meatballs while in some other places they serve bigger Italian meatballs.

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Appetizers for party [Grandma’s Party!]

The other day Grandma and I organized a little friends gathering and decided to make some appetizers for party to serve to our guests.

Maybe you’ve already heard that Grandma loves to have people over she enjoys playing card games, cooking good food and likes to have company. I don’t know how she does it but somehow she can always come up with appetizers ideas for cocktail party.

Do you like appetizers?

I love them. I mean, have you ever thought about how versatile they are?

In Italy easy appetizers like cold canapés for example are served as appetizers for party and for the “Happy Hour”. To experience the “Happy Hour” – the real Italian way – you have to be in a local café around 7.00 p.m.

They will serve you a glass of wine, some olives, a selection of cold cuts (like ham, salami, prosciutto), probably some squared cut Italian cheese  and all sorts of other cold appetizers.

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Focaccia Bread Recipes [and a sweet version]

<<Have you ever tried authentic Focaccia bread?>>

Authentic in this case means authentic Italian Focaccia bread but in fact, if someone ever asks you such a question, you have to reply:

<<what do you mean by “authentic”>>?

Authentic Focaccia bread from Liguria (the Italian Riviera), from Puglia (a region of southern Italy) or Focaccia bread from Susa (that is sweet Focaccia from the northern area)? .. And you thought it was a simple question, right?

Whenever Grandma and I travel from the Piedmont Region down to Tuscany (where we live) we always “have to” stop at Recco and eat Focaccia bread.

In the Liguria area you’ll find many different kind of Focaccia bread toppings like rosemary Focaccia, Focaccia with black olives and coarse sea salt on top, Focaccia bread with onions (I love this one!). But the most typical around here is Focaccia di Recco (from the town Recco) filled with Stracchino soft fresh cheese.

Focaccia bread from Recco consists of two layers of dough filled with Stracchino cheese and baked in the oven. You should eat this warm to enjoy it the real Italian way! The dough of Focaccia di Recco is worked real thin and it’s similar to pizza and bread dough.

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Barolo wine [two special recipes]

  • Barolo wine some origins

 Do you like Italian wine? Do you like Italian red wine? Then you probably like Barolo wine.

The name of Barolo wine comes from its town of origin: Barolo which is located in the Piedmont region (northern Italy) but more specifically in an area called Langhe.

Langhe is a notorious area because it’s the land of different fine Italian wines and precious truffles as well.

Actually if you like delicious and tasty Italian foods, this is a place you don’t want to miss on your next trip to Italy. In fact almost every weekend there is some kind of food and wine event in the Langhe area. You can experience Barolo wine tasting and other exquisite Italian wines, cheeses and typical products.

It’s very common for tourists and foreign visitors to look up for food and wine events – which are held very often here – and book a couple of nights in the so called Agritourism. These are places, usually plunged in the beautiful nature surrounding the small rural villages, where there are few rooms for the guests and a restaurant which usually serves typical products and traditional homemade recipes.

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Homemade lasagna [and a green version]

Today we’ll talk about lasagna and more specifically on how to make a delicious and yet easy homemade lasagna.

I think lasagna should be considered as an Italian Icon. Dont’you agree?

Lasagna is a different kind of pasta. What makes it different is that unlike other pasta dough recipes this one has eggs in it.

There are other kind of pasta – besides lasagna – made with the same dough like tagliatelle for example or cannelloni.

Sometimes this pasta dough – with eggs in it – is combined with spinach. This is why homemade spinach lasagna are so popular. But you could also find spinach tagliatelle and I’m telling you they are delicious!

Tagliatelle are like long flat spaghetti and the dough is supposed to be really thin. Lasagna is made with the same dough but shaped in thin large rectangular.

Like all other Italian recipes there is a region where everything started…Lasagna, tagliatelle, cannelloni and all different sorts of egg dough pasta come from Emilia Romagna. If you really love homemade lasagna, and all this typical pastas you should visit Bologna one day.

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Spaghetti recipe with sausage [Grandma’s special]

Now before I start telling you all I know about spaghetti and before I share with you my very special spaghetti recipe, I want to say something about Italian cooking and eating.

While in many different cultures a meal often consists in one main course and a dessert, in Italy we have a different way of serving a meal. So in case you ever want to come to Italy here is what you should expect on a menu.

First of all you begin your Italian meal with a starter, some entrees or few appetizers served with a glass of Italian wine. Depending on the region you are visiting the starters will be very different from place to place.

At this point you are ready to start your actual meal with what we call “primo” and this is literally the first course – it can be any kind of pasta, soup or risotto.

Primo” in Italian means “first” so this is actually your first course and quite often it consists of a good and delicious spaghetti recipe like: spaghetti with tomato sauce, spaghetti with fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese, spaghetti alla carbonara or spaghetti all’amatriciana!
This last one was hard to pronounce right? No worries, it’s easier than you think.

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Original Italian Pizza from Naples (Italy)

Here is the story of the Original Italian Pizza…

Yesterday I was at the beach all day with Grandma enjoying the sunshine and the Mediterranean Sea. After a day at the beach we thought: let’s have a pizza tonight.

So we went to this really nice Pizzeria Restaurant and as always she got all goofy about the now-very popular “Hawaiian Pizza”.

She said pineapples are not supposed to be on a pizza…and it went on and on “it’s like cheese and chocolate!” and I said “Grandma, things change, taste change, trends change…now Hawaiian Pizza is a big thing!”.  Ok, she just couldn’t get over it!

Anyways, it can be thin, it can be thick, it can be round or square cut. It can have a huge variety of toppings. Usually it involves tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese but one thing is for sure: Pizza is a real Italian Classic.

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