Zaletti1My friend and colleague, Julia della Croce, sent me this recipe for Zaletti to see if I liked them. The cookies, made with fine cornmeal, flour, eggs, a bit of alcohol, and dried fruits, are a specialty of Venice. And I can tell you that I became a fan of them instantly. Crunchy and chewy at the same time, they are great for nibbling, dunking into coffee, tea, or even a fruit purée. And boy do they keep well. I’ve had a batch sitting in a covered container on a kitchen counter for a couple of weeks and they taste just as good as freshly baked. […Read More]

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sourcherries1Sour cherry season, if you can even call it that, is like a whisper–soft and fleeting. The ripe, tart, bright red rubies must be picked and used right away. So don’t dawdle. To my delight, I found them at my farmers market a day ago, packed a generous 2 pounds to a bag, the perfect amount for a pie. I had to make a decision on the spot. Would I make a pie when I got home or would I pit and freeze the cherries to recreate a slice of summer in the winter? No time like the present, I decided, so a pie it’d be. […Read More]

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Brownies2That’s me about to bite into a fudgy chocolate toffee brownie. I’ve worked on this recipe on and off for a long time and I’m finally happy with it. I wanted a strong chocolate flavor in a chewy, moist brownie. When refrigerated, the brownies are definitely chewy. If you prefer a moist brownie without the chewiness, serve them at room temperature. The toffee pieces (broken up Heath bars), add just a tiny bit of crunch. I don’t add nuts to this recipe because I find them intrusive. They actually interfere with the brownies’ texture. […Read More]

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OliveOilCake2One of my favorite recipes using extra-virgin Italian olive oil is this citrus olive oil cake that I adapted from a recipe by Anne Quatrano in Food & Wine Magazine. I have always made this cake with a Ligurian olive oil, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I went to the market and found a bottle of Lucini premium select extra virgin olive oil, made from hand-picked olives in central Italy. Lucini is a brand I was familiar with but I stopped buying it because it was bottled in clear glass. Now it’s bottled in dark glass and you can buy an organic version, too. The oil is delightfully fruity. […Read More]

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beautyshotshortbreadWhile I was working on A Baker’s Oddysey, and searching for an authentic source for Scottish Shortbread, I happily found a Scot who happened to be a member of our family. Cammie Mitchell Hinshaw, a third generation Scot, is married to my wife’s nephew, Michael Hinshaw. I’ve watched Cammie make these cookies in her home kitchen, and I can tell you, the cookies are melt-in-your mouth tender/crunchy and oh, so buttery! […Read More]

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This One 1On a recent trip to Italy, courtesy of the Italian Trade Agency, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Italian olive oils and their many uses in cooking and eating. The point of the trip was to learn how to taste and evaluate extra-virgin olive oils from all over Italy. The Ercole Olivario, an annual competition that identifies and honors the best producers of Italian olive oil, is a big deal. Over 270 olive oils had been entered, and by the time we six  American journalists arrived in Rome, the field had been narrowed down to 100 finalists. […Read More]

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