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Italian: Pasta Alla Carbonara April 28, 2012

Filed under: Dinner,Italian,Recipes — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 12:14 am


  • 1 pound of dry pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, more for garnish
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped


  1. First off, it is important to realize that the pasta sauce and the pasta need to be prepared very carefully for this dish to work. Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the pasta will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished. The pasta MUST be hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender, yet firm. Drain the pasta well, but reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce (if you wish).
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the pancetta is cooked. Add garlic and saute for less than one minute to soften.
  4. Add the hot, drained pasta to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is why the pan must be removed from heat).
  6. Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches your desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Mound the pasta carbonara into warm serving dishes and garnish with fresh parsley. Top with Parmesan cheese.


Pasta alla carbonara is one of my absolute favorites. This is a recipe that I’ve found works the best for this dish, and the ingredients are simple enough that I usually have most in my kitchen already. This dish is delicious whether you make it at home, or order it in an Italian restaurant. If it’s on the menu, it’s usually the one I order.


If you can’t find pancetta or don’t have any, bacon is a fine substitute. Just make sure you chop it into smaller pieces to give it the same effect!


Italian: Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti April 27, 2012

Filed under: Dessert,Italian,Presentation,Recipes — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 11:46 pm


  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp shortening


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add white sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Stir in vanilla. Mixture should be creamy at this point.
  3. Combine 1 cup flour and baking powder, and add to the butter mixture. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough, and then stir in almonds.
  4. With lightly floured hands, divide the dough in half.
  5. Shape each portion into a 9 inch log, and place 4 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  6. Combine egg yolk and water in a bowl, and brush the mixture on each log.
  7. Bake biscotti in oven for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire racks. Allow biscotti to cool completely.
  8. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut each log crosswise into 1/2 inch slices.
  9. Place biscotti on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 300°F for 10 minutes on each side.
  10. Remove to wire racks once again and let cool completely.
  11. To make the chocolate dip, melt chocolate chips and shortening in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth.
  12. Carefully dip one end of each biscotti into the chocolate mixture, coating it evenly. Place each biscotti on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and allow them to cool completely.


Biscotti is an Italian cookie, usually enjoyed after a meal with coffee to go with it. My great grandmother used to make them often, although usually without chocolate. Because I love it so much, I never make them without dipping them in chocolate! Be careful though, not only are they delicious, but quite addicting! I am thinking about making these to bring to the class for our presentation.


Italian: Chicken Parmigiana

Filed under: Dinner,Italian — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 11:01 pm



  • 8 pieces of chicken thinly sliced and pounded
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups dry seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, basil and parsley, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  3. In another shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and water.
  4. On a plate, spread the all-purpose flour to cover the surface.
  5. One piece at a time, coat the chicken with the flour and shake off the excess. Then proceed to dip the chicken into the egg mixture, and then coat with the breadcrumb mixture, patting it with your fingers to make the crumbs adhere.
  6. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and saute until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook for another 2-3 minutes. If the pan starts to look dry, add more olive oil so the breading doesn’t stick to the pan. Remove from pan and put on a paper towel covered plate.
  7. Lightly oil (spray oil is good) a shallow baking dish. Spoon into the pan 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Arrange the chicken over the sauce, while slightly overlapping the chicken. Sprinkle some extra parmesan cheese over the top and cover with the remaining tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese slices and a little more parmesan.
  8. Cover the pan with foil and bake until heated through, about 20-30 minutes. To brown the top, remove foil and place briefly under a broiler.


Chicken parmigiana is a delicious chicken dish that is cooked in tomato sauce and topped with lots of cheese. This dish is great served by itself or with pasta. Another great thing to do with it is make sandwiches with a fresh Italian roll. This is just one variation of the popular dish, some people prefer to make it with veal. The recipe would be the exact same, just acquire 8 pieces of thinly sliced veal and substitute it for the chicken in this recipe!


Italian: Minestrone Soup April 22, 2012

Filed under: Dinner,Italian,Recipes,Starters — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 8:36 pm



  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard (chopped)
  • 1 head Cabbage (chopped)
  • 3 Zucchini (diced)
  • 3 or 4 Carrots (chopped)
  • 3 or 4 stems Celery (chopped)
  • 1 Onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 huge potato (chopped)
  • big handful of parsley (chopped)
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce – maybe not all, really just for color
  • Cranberry or Pinto Beans
  • Pasta of your choice (elbow or macaroni work well)
  • Bouillon cubes as needed or chicken broth
  • Full pot of water


  1. In a large pot, saute onion, garlic, celery and carrot in olive oil.
  2. Then, add all other ingredients into pot and boil for about an hour.
  3. Garnish with salt, pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan


Minestrone soup is a warm hearty soup that is perfect for when you’re feeling down or need something to warm you up on a cold winter day. There are many ways to make this Italian soup, but this is my favorite recipe, which has been in my family for years. One tip is to use pancetta instead of olive oil, which will give it a great flavor.


Potluck April 14, 2012

Filed under: Dessert,Georgian,Italian,Journal Entry,Salvadorian,Starters — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 8:06 pm

Today our group had a potluck, we all shared dishes that we either grew up having or enjoy making now. Everything was so delicious, and we all learned about and tried foods we’ve never had before. Below will be recipes for each dish made at the potluck.


Potluck dishes included:

  • Pastelles
  • Pupusas
  • Tamales
  • Persohki
  • Garlic Potatoes with dill
  • Creme Brulee
  • Tiramisu
  • Crostini with Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Mushroom Raviolis with mushroom marinara

Italian: Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce April 13, 2012

Filed under: Dinner,Italian,Recipes — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 4:12 pm



For Gnocchi

  • 2lbs whole baking potatoes
  • 2 beaten egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt

For Pesto Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves (minced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash potatoes and dry with paper towel. Pierce each potato multiple times with a fork around each potato to vent so they don’t explode. Bake the potatoes for about an hour until their skins are tender. Let cool on a rack by cutting them open to let the moisture escape.
  2. Scoop potatoes from their skins. Place potato in a potato ricer and press each through into a large bowl. (or mash them by hand and fluff with a fork.) Do this process while potatoes are still warm, but cool enough to handle.
  3. Add flour, egg and a pinch of salt to the large bowl. Mix by hand into a big ball of dough. Do not overmix.
  4. Prepare a work area and dust with flour. Take the dough, one large piece at a time, and roll it out gently with your hands until you have rolls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Keep it light, do not make it too dense. Use a light pressure and roll the dough away from you.
  5. Cut the rolls of dough into pieces about an inch long. They should look like little pillows. Use your fingertip to poke a small indent into each piece. As you make them, place them on a flat baking pan that is lined with wax paper. You can freeze the extra to save for another day by putting saran wrap. Once frozen, they can be placed in a ziplock freezer bag for easier storage.
  6. Once the gnocchi is made, it would be time to start making the pesto (or any sauce you wish to use for this recipe, pesto is not mandatory). For the Pesto sauce, you would first need to combine the basil and pine nuts into a food processor. Pulse in food processor a few times. Add garlic and pulse a few more times.
  7. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula, add the grated cheese, and pulse until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. For this meal, bring at least 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt and gently drop a few gnocchi at a time to the water. When most have risen to the surface, remove them a few at a time with a slotted spoon, draining well. Place on a warm serving dish and pour fresh (or jarred) sauce on top and serve hot. Use salt, pepper and parmesan cheese to taste.


Potato Gnocchi is a classic Italian recipe coming from the Tuscany region. I learned how to make this dish while studying abroad in Florence, and my family confirmed that this was the same recipe they use as well. For this dish, my family usually serves with the Italian meat sauce, but Pesto is a delicious alternative. The pesto used in this recipe can be used for virtually any pesto dish you can think to make. As always, you can use store bought gnocchi or pesto to make either part of this dish.


Italian: Manicotti April 7, 2012

Filed under: Dinner,Italian,Recipes — multiculturalfamilyrecipes @ 9:59 pm


  • 10 manicotti shells
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese, divided
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (16oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white Zinfandel
  • 3 mushrooms (sliced)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While oven is preheating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook manicotti shells for 8-10 minutes and drain.

2. In a large, deep skillet, combine ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until beef is browned evenly. Remove from heat, and mix in bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, egg, and one cup of the shredded cheese.

3. At this point, the shells need to be filled with the filling. I would recommend scooping the filling into a large ziplock or pastry bag, seal it, and cut a hole in the corner of the bag. By doing this, you can squeeze the filling into the shells to keep it as neat as possible.

4. Next, combine the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, wine and mushrooms. Then spoon sauce to cover the bottom of an 8×11 baking dish. Arrange the filled manicotti in a single layer, filling the dish. Cover the manicotti with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.

5. Cover the dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

6. Serve hot, and garnish with Parmesan cheese to taste.



If you have never heard of Manicotti before, just image that these are the same as really long ravioli’s. With that being said, you could fill them with anything you desire. I usually make them with beef, spinach and cheese, but you could add ground pork or other ingredients to change it up. My Nonni usually makes these with her homemade noodles, but store-bought Manicotti shells work just as well!

Tip: When I make these, I usually use my favorite meat sauce. The recipe is listed in an earlier entry!