Cook Italian - Real Recipes
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Real Recipes
December, 2014
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

Fragrant and sweet, it is the king of Christmas treats. There is neither a fair nor a town festival where it is not sold, together with nougat and other typical delicacies of the Christmas season: dried and candied fruit, such as figs, dates and so on... The delicious almond brittle is a longtime favourite  family treat and one of the most typical Christmas delicacies in Italy. Its origins date back to the 13th century. It is supposed to derive from the Arab cuisine, where it was made ​​with almonds, honey, sugar and spices. It has been mentioned in the historical archives of parishes all over Italy since the Middle Ages as one of the most popular sweets prepared and sold at country fairs. Made with typical ingredients that have been grown in our country for centuries, the almond brittle is usually served at the end of a meal, after coffee, but is also ideal for a snack, as a small delicacy providing for an immediate supply of healthy energy. It is made all over the country, but in the municipalities of Sestola - in the province of Modena - and San Marco dei Cavoti - in the province of Benevento – almond brittles are even used for the creation of nativity scenes and fanciful artworks!  

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Real Recipes
October, 2014
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

Gnocchi are a dish of ancient origins and can be prepared with different types of flour: wheat, corn, rice, semolina, or even with bread and mixed with vegetables. Each variety of gnocchi has a different colour: green when they are made with spinach, yellow when they are made with pumpkin, red with beets. The most popular gnocchi recipe and the most famous all over the world is potato gnocchi. This dish has been prepared since the sixteenth century, when imports of potatoes from the American continent began, all over Europe. Until then, gnocchi were made with bread crumbs, mixed with milk. The sauce for this dish also changes, according to the different regional traditions, but the most common one is tomato sauce, accompanied by a few leaves of fresh basil and a lot of grated Parmesan cheese. 


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Real Recipes
November, 2014
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

Gallina de la tierra, that the way Christopher Columbus described a turkey, when he first saw one in 1502, after landing on the coast of Honduras. At the court of emperor Moctezuma, in Mexico, over a thousand turkeys were consumed each day. Imported into Spain in the following years, turkeys soon spread throughout Europe, where their meat was immediately appreciated. It seems that the word turkey is due to the Turkish merchants who first imported turkeys into England. Turkeys have been considered, in Europe, an ideal food for important celebrations since the mid-sixteenth century.

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Real Recipes
June, 2014
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

If you are looking for a healthy, quick and successful main course, you ought to try marinated tuna fish. With its compact and flavourful flesh, tuna fish is rich in protein, minerals (iron, selenium, and phosphorus), vitamin A and precious polyunsaturated fatty acids, which play an important role in improving blood circulation. 

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Real Recipes
April, 2014
Posted by 
Nicola Bertazzoni

It is said that, in June 1889, Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito created the first pizza Margherita in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy, using ingredients that had the same colours of the Italian flag: basil (green), mozzarella (white) and tomato (red). It seems that the new pizza aroused Her Majesty’s enthusiasm. 

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Real Recipes
March, 2014
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

Apple pancakes are a simple and extremely tasty dessert. Together with chiacchiere, they are a typical Carnival treat. The tradition of making pancakes - with different ingredients according to the different regions in Italy - is also linked to the celebration of St. Joseph’s Day, falling on March 19th. According to a popular legend, in fact, after his flight into Egypt, St. Joseph  was forced to become an itinerant fry cook, in order to make a living.

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Real Recipes
January, 2014
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni

Polenta has been for centuries the staple food in the daily diet of ordinary people in northern and central Italy. Polenta still plays an important role in the winter diet of these regions. There are several types of polenta. It can be made with corn, buckwheat, potatoes, chestnut flour, barley, white corn, or prepared with a mixture of several types of flour.

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Real Recipes
July, 2013
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

I tasted for the first time a Sicilian blood orange salad at a dinner made by some friends from Palermo. It was served as a side dish to a roast beef. I must confess that, at first, I was a bit surprised to see oranges seasoned with olive oil and vinegar. I immediately tasted the salad, dressed up with tasty black olives and I found it delicious for the ability of oranges, that are a little sour, to counter the fat taste of meat. It is a dish that I strongly recommend: fast, healthy, tasty, it gives a touch of colour to your table during the coldest months!

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Real Recipes
June, 2013
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

Spinach, chard and ricotta filled tortelli (tortelli being the name given to ravioli in the Food Valley) are perhaps the most typical dish of Emilia-Romagna and never fail to be on everybody’s table on the occasion of the most important festivities. They are made of fresh pasta in rectangular or square shape ( about 2 x 1.5 inches), filled with spinach, Swiss chard, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and grated nutmeg. They are usually served topped with melted butter, sage leaves and grated Parmesan cheese.

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Real Recipes
April, 2013
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni

Mostarda is a preserve made with candied fruit, flavoured with mustard essential oil. It is usually served with meat or cheese, to enhance their flavour. The term mostarda, from the Latin mustum ardens (literally burning must), anticipates its typically spicy flavour. In ancient times, it was made with grape must and ground mustard seeds, hence the name.

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Real Recipes
February, 2013
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

Despite its name, it is not clear whether this delicious dish originally comes from Parma, or whether it comes from Southern Italy, as both Sicily and Campania lay claim to its creation. Its name is therefore possibly due to its origin in Parma, or to the abundance of Parmesan cheese in its recipe, or even to the fact that eggplants are called petronciani in Campania. According to others, the term comes from parmiciana, as are called, in Sicily, the strips of wood that make up a shutter, reminding us of the way eggplant slices are laid over the bottom of the baking dish in this recipe.
Whatever its origin, the eggplant Parmesan recipe is one of the most famous and popular of the Italian cuisine worldwide.

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Real Recipes
February, 2013
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

Chiacchiere or frappe can boast a long history, dating back to frictilia, sweet fritters typical of the Carnival period in Roman times. Known throughout Italy, where they are called by different names, they are made with very simple ingredients.

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Real Recipes
December, 2012
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni

A traditional dessert of the town of Mantua, Torta delle Rose (Rose Cake) was allegedly created for the wedding of Isabella d'Este, daughter to the Duke of Ferrara, and Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, on February 12th, 1490. The rosebuds, made of puff pastry, were meant to be a tribute to the blossoming beauty of Isabella, who was sixteen at the time. Thanks to her intellectual and political skills, Isabella was soon going to become an enlightened patroness of the arts and a protagonist of the Italian Renaissance.
Take time to try the ancient recipe of this delicious Rose Cake: you will see that this cake hasn’t lost a bit of its unique flavour since it was first created, over 500 years ago!

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Real Recipes
November, 2012
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni

In order to cook an excellent braised beef, it is first necessary to select the right type of meat. The ideal cut comes from the forequarter of a steer, known as brisket in the US and thick rib in the UK. Typical dish of the Piedmontese cuisine, braised beef in barolo wine requires a very long preparation, but it is not particularly difficult to make. Braised beef in Barolo wine is usually served with polenta, once a staple food of the cuisine in northern Italy and still prepared in many homes almost daily.

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Real Recipes
March, 2013
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni
I tasted the delicious fregole with clams for the first time in Bosa, a seaside town on the west coast of Sardinia, south of Alghero, on the estuary of the river Terno, that make up its harbour.

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Real Recipes
March, 2012
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

Typical Italian dish, chick pea soup has been poor people’s food for centuries all over the country. It is considered a full meal, as it is nourishing, full of proteins and poor in calories. It is still very popular in southern Italy and Liguria, where chickpea-growing is more abundant.
Presumably originally hailing from Turkey, chickpeas spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean area, where they have been grown for thousand years.
The Roman statesman, philosopher and writer Marcus Tullius Cicero owed his name to… a chickpea (cicer in Latin), inherited from an ancestor who had a small lump on his nose in the shape of a chickpea ...
Chickpeas are now among the most widely farmed legumes in the world, so try this simple and tasty recipe of a typically Italian chickpea soup!

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Real Recipes
December, 2011
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

At Christmas time in our part of the world there is a Sbrisolona on every table, bringing good luck to the entire family. The odd name comes from the Mantova dialect and means ‘sbriciolare’ ‘to crumble’, because of the very crumbly consistency of the cake. This recipe originated around 1600 in the grand Gonzaga court of the Duchy of Mantova, and soon became popular throughout the more modest houses of the Po Valley. It is said that walnuts, which are more typical of our area, were originally used instead of almonds. But walnuts were meant to be the ‘fruits of the witches’, while almonds have luckier significance, meaning ‘light’ and ‘rebirth’. Hence the change of ingredient!

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Real Recipes
August, 2011
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni
Perfect in Summer as in Winter, this dish can be a lovely starter or a light main course if you serve it with 2 or 3 slices of Pane Toscano (unsalted Tuscan bread).

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Real Recipes
July, 2011
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni
Summer, the season I love the most for fresh fruits: the variety, the abundance, the colors, the intense fragrances. If you ever get bored of fresh fruit try this recipe, one of my favourite summer desserts!

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Real Recipes
May, 2011
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

This is an easy and very tasty recipe from my best friend Agata from Sanremo, using fresh herbs. Easy to make and enjoyable to eat!

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Real Recipes
April, 2011
Posted by 
Nicola Bertazzoni

Asparagus is one of the most loved vegetables the world over and in many countries it’s considered an aphrodisiac! With its “root” going back over 4000 years to the ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Apparently the ancient Roman Emperors were so fond of asparagus that they sent merchants all the way to Egypt just to bring in the precious vegetable. I completely understand why.

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Real Recipes
February, 2011
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

These flans served with caramelized scallions and Prosciutto Crudo di Parma are a great appetizer to start an authentic dinner as if you were in Parma. Close your eyes while tasting this enriched flavour and you will believe of being seated in a fancy restaurant in the main piazza. Can you see the warm light on the ancient buildings and hear Italian voices speaking and laughing?

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Real Recipes
January, 2011
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni

(by Giuseppe Furno, Italian writer and a dear Uncle) This dish has the colours, the scents and the complex layers of Sicily and the surrounding Mediterranean; intense red Pachino cherry tomatoes, golden onions, dried oregano and sea salt that smells like waves. What else? A 5-6 mm beef steak the size of your hand; bread crumbs, home made if possible and extra virgin olive oil.

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Real Recipes
December, 2010
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

Torta Cioccolatina literally means chocolate candy cake and comes from the sensation you have in eating it: it melts in your mouth like a chocolate candy! They are served as small cubes like in a chocolate box.It's almost impossible to stop eating this delicious morsels sitting around the table with your family, even after a rich Christmas lunch. If you make very small cubes you needn’t feel too guilty.

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Real Recipes
November, 2010
Posted by 
Elisabetta Bertazzoni

Pumpkin risotto is all about colour. Cutting open a pumpkin is a voluptuous experience in itself, the rich, earthy orange tones of pumpkin always bring me back into a glorious summer sunset.

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Real Recipes
July, 2010
Posted by 
Paolo Bertazzoni

Pasta with sardines is a very tasty and healthy food. Sardines are rich in unsaturated fats, very good for cholesterol control.My choice is to use freshly made tagliolini as the round taste of this type of pasta enhances the delicate flavour of fish ragouts.

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Real Recipes
June, 2010
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

The Italian tradition believes that on the sunrise of St. Johns (24th June is San Giovanni) is the right time to harvest the drupes (nuts) used to prepare “il nocino”. It seemed like the dew from the night before, between June 23rd and June 24th, was a relief for all our pains and if we want to go deeper into our memories and traditions, the 30 nuts had to be collected under the moonlight and cut with a crystal knife.The time of harvesting is very important because the nuts are neither soft nor hard and can be cut in half or in quarters.

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Real Recipes
March, 2010
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

The artichoke heart was very popular in Roman times. The Romans thought it was very good for the liver, and they were right!The best season for artichokes is from October to May: in this period growers will take around 20 crops.

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Real Recipes
February, 2010
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

In countries of Catholic traditions, Carnival comes before a period of compulsory fasting called Lent.Maybe, well actually I am quite sure, fasting is not compulsory anymore, but I think we still deserve to taste this “tempting” and somewhat surprising, baked sweet. Don’t feel guilty, it is Carnival time.

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Real Recipes
December, 2009
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

Struffoli are an Italian speciality traditionally made around Christmas time. Every Italian family has their own preferred version. Ours is taken from the old Bertazzoni family cookbook that was begun over a century ago.

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Real Recipes
December, 2013
Posted by 
Valentina Bertazzoni

The history of ricotta cheese has been lost in the mists of time.
Being a favourite food of kings and shepherds alike, it was already known to the Egyptians and the Sumerians. Ricotta cheese derives its name from the Latin word recocta - that is cooked twice - as is the case with whey during the manufacturing process.
Every year, for centuries, fresh ricotta cheese arrived in town on November 25th, St. Catherine’s Day, to the tune of a pastoral. It was carried, in wicker baskets, by pipers coming down from their pastures up on the mountains to roam around the streets playing their bagpipes and shawms. To date, on the days leading up to Christmas, pipers arrive in town to the loud sound of their ancient instruments, wearing clothes that seem to emerge from a Nativity scene, to announce to everyone that Christmas is finally upon us!