Apr 27

I decided to create a collection of crostini, finger foods and other easy dishes to offer to our readers and to my children, and to my daughter, Cristina, in particular, who always tells me, “I don’t have time to read magazines or look in books, but if you send me some recipes by email, I’ll find the time to read them and use them.”

Here they are! The four Gourmet Dossiers include Fabulous Party Pasta, Fabulous Party Foods, Fabulous Finger Foods and Fabulous Party Sweets. Each one includes over a dozen recipes with helpful kitchen tool descriptions and step-by-step instructions.

With these e-dossiers, I hope to help those who are busy with work and travel, as my daughter is. I hope that you’ll use these quick, easy recipes with success and write to me to ask for more. In the meantime, I am giving you a recipe from one of the dossiers to try.

Mozzarella Crostini with Green Olives
(from Fabulous Finger Foods)

8 thin slices Italian bread, lightly toasted
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 pound buffalo mozzarella, diced (or substitute regular fresh mozzarella)
1 8-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
1⁄2 cup green Sicilian olives, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons Grana Padano, grated
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the slices of bread on a nonstick cookie sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Top the bread slices with the diced mozzarella and arrange the red pepper strips on top so that they form an “X”. Add the chopped olives. Sprinkle with the oregano and Grana Padano. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the mozzarella begins to melt and the edges become golden. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Apr 20

Climatic conditions, olive varietals, harvesting methods and production processes are key to the particular quality of each extra-virgin olive oil.

Like all products of nature, extra-virgin olive oils are marvelously varied and are different in taste, color and fragrance in different regions. In general, olive oils from Liguria and the Lake Garda region in the Veneto are light, probably the lightest of all Italian olive oils; olive oils from Tuscany and Umbria tend to be fruitier and more robust; and olive oils from Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria are milder yet more full-bodied.

Different producers from the same region offer widely different olive oils. Factors such as when and how the olives are picked, as well as the processing method, play a significant role in what the final product tastes like.

Think of olive oil as you would wine. If you use a poor quality olive oil it will give your dish an off-taste, just like a bad wine would.

As with wine, olive oil should be carefully paired with food. Consider the olive oil’s flavor and aroma characteristics, making sure that these complement rather than overwhelm the food.

As we have mentioned before, there are three broad flavor categories: mild, fruity and fruity-spicy–each suited to different preparations.

When dressing delicate dishes and sauces without garlic, use a mild olive oil (which is also good for baking sweets). A fruity olive oil is ideal in pasta sauces with garlic, herbs, spices and salads. For grilled meats and roasts, aged cheeses, or dishes with generous amounts of garlic and spices, a fruity-spicy olive oil works best.

Always taste an olive oil before cooking with it to decide what dish it will enhance most, remembering that, when used raw, the oil’s flavor is more pronounced.

  •  To read more about buying and using olive oil, including how to store it and the difference between “filtered” and “unfiltered,” click here.
  • Once you’ve found the right olive oil, find the perfect recipe to use it in.
Apr 13

Spring has arrived! Not only is the warmer weather and blooming greenery something to celebrate, but so is the new crop of in-season vegetables. Among these includes asparagus, whose season begins right now. So take advantage of asparagus’ peak with this fresh spring recipe.

Shrimp and Asparagus Salad

1 sprig each, thyme, bay leaf and rosemary
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard
2 shallots, minced
freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 pint grape tomatoes, halved

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use butcher’s string to tie the sprigs of herbs together, and add to the water along with a pinch of salt, the shrimp and the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Remove using a slotted spoon, and set aside to cool at room temperature. Meanwhile in the food processor, combine the vinegar, mustard and shallots, and pulse until well-combined. With the food processor on low, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, and mix until the mixture is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. Cut each shrimp and asparagus into about 3 pieces each, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the dressing and the grape tomato halves, and toss well.  Serves 4

  • Want more recipes? Click here for Italian Cooking Forum’s recipe index.
  • Find the perfect crisp white wine to go with this or any other dish you’re serving in the warmer weather.
Apr 7

Until a few years ago, the wine “Friulano” was called Tocai because it was similar to the Hungarian Tocai. How did the vintners react? Friulano similar to their wine! How about the consumers? The first continued to love it like always. The second wasn’t upset at all. In Friuli and in Veneto, despite the name, it’s willingly consumed, no more or less than before. Outside of Triveneto, the media has for decades favored Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The first encounter with the most beloved white wine of Friuli, though renamed, is always positive.

What do you think? Does changing a name of a wine make a difference? Please post and let me know what you think of Friulano (Tocai).


  • Friulano isn’t only for sipping—try cooking with it using this tocai-flavored chicken legs recipe
  • To read the full article about Friulano, which appears in the April issue of Cibo, subscribe to the e-magazine
  • Speaking of Cibo, I would love to hear what you think and what you would like to see in it. So please leave a comment on my blog, or page, or email me