Blog

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Risotto ai Frutti di Mare

May 14, 2019

 

Seafood Risotto is a classic Italian main course, perfect for special occasions and in every season!

 

Keep following us for many other homemade tasty Italian recipes!

 

RISOTTO AI FRUTTI DI MARE
(Seafood Risotto)

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of Arborio rice
  • ⅓ lb. of bay scallops
  • ⅓ lb. of fresh, medium-sized shrimp, peeled
  • ½ lb. of steamed mussels
  • ½ lb. of steamed small clams
  • 4 fresh, medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch of crushed hot pepper
  • salt to taste
  • ⅓ cup of dry white wine
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil

 

HOW TO PREPARE:

Steam the rice by cooking it in five cups of water. Prepare the sauce by placing all the herbs, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat. When everything is light golden, add the wine and the fresh tomatoes. Simmer everything for 10 minutes. Add the clean, washed seafood (except for the clams, which should be added during the last 5 minutes); and cook everything for 20 minutes.Add the clams, and continue to simmer the seafood for an additional 10 minutes. Pour the ingredients over the steamed rice in a large platter. Mix the rice, and sprinkle a handful of finely chopped parsley on top. Buon appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Gnocchi di Patate

May 7, 2019

Keep following us for many other homemade tasty Italian recipes!

 

GNOCCHI DI PATATE

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 boiled Maine potatoes
  • 10 handfuls of white flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
  • 4 cups of cooked tomato sauce or ragù

 

PREPARATION
Boil eight potatoes in a large pan of water. When they are soft, mash them thoroughly, making sure not to leave any lumps. Mix the hot mashed potatoes and 10 handfuls of flour with a pinch of salt. Knead them together, and add more flour if necessary. Work this mixture for a while until you can make it into a ball. Take a small piece of dough and roll it to about the diameter of your thumb. Cut this rolled dough into two-inch pieces, and place them on a plate sprinkled with flour. Quickly repeat this process until you have finished cutting and rolling all of the dough. You should have at least five platefuls of gnocchi. Before making the gnocchi, place a large pot of water to boil and add one teaspoon of salt. When the water comes to a full boil, drop in one plate of gnocchi at a time. Cover the pan. The gnocchi are done when they rise to the surface of the water. Take them out with a small strainer, place them in a large bowl, cover them with hot sauce, and sprinkle them with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat this process for every single plate of cooked gnocchi. Before you serve them very hot, make sure that they are covered with tomato sauce and sprinkled with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Buon
appetito!
 

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Pasta al Tonno e Alici

April 30, 2019

Keep following us for many other homemade tasty Italian recipes!

 

PASTA AL TONNO E ALICI
(Tuna and Anchovies Pasta)

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box of Barilla thick spaghetti
  • 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • ⅓ cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small can of chunk tuna fish in water
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • salt and crushed red pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup of dry white wine

 

PREPARATION

In a large skillet over medium heat pour the olive oil and add the crushed garlic, salt, and red pepper.
When the garlic is lightly golden, add the wine and, soon after, the tuna and cut-up anchovies. Cook the ingredients for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti in a large pot. When the pasta is cooked “al dente,” strain and pour it into the frying pan where the tuna and anchovies were cooked. Add the fresh parsley and stir the mixture over high heat for about 3 minutes. Place the spaghetti in a large platter and garnish with additional finely chopped, fresh parsley. Serve it hot.
Buon appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Minestrone

April 23, 2019

A healthy vegetarian meal...

Keep following us for many other homemade tasty Italian recipes!

 

MINESTRONE
(Vegetable Soup)

 

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup of finely chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and basil
  • ½ cup of chopped celery
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 cup of chopped potatoes
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 2 cups of finely chopped Swiss chard
  • 1 cup of short cut-up pasta (spaghetti, elbow macaroni)
  • salt (to taste)
  • a pinch of nutmeg, dill, and red pepper
  • 5 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • wine

 

PREPARATION
Put the onions and ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat. When the onions are lightly golden, add all of the other vegetables, spices, and two cups of water. Let the mixture boil slowly. Continue to add water as necessary. Let it boil for two and a half hours. Pour in the pasta, and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve lukewarm with toasted Tuscan bread.
Buon appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOME MADE RECIPES: EASTER EDITION

April 19, 2019

This week, Donna Franca wanted to share two extra recipes, just in time for Easter and Passover. According to American Culinary Traditions, the two specialties prepared for the the festive Easter and Passover Dinner are Roasted Lamb and Baked Ham. Here are Donna Franca's personal take on both recipes, showing her Italian Heritage and her American traditions! Enjoy either one with your family and friends this weekend. Buon Appetito! 

 

 

ABBACCHIO ALLA CACCIATORA

INGREDIENTS: 

5 lbs. leg of lamb, preferably deboned

2 cups of white vinegar 

1/3 cup rosemary leaves

1/3 cup minced garlic

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

1/3 cup olive oil

6 potatoes cut in medium cubes 

salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

 

PREPARATION: 

Wash the meat with warm water. Rinse and soak in a bowl of white vinegar. After 10 minutes, rinse again and place in a baking pan. Punch the meat with small holes, combine all herbs and garlic (and anchovies, if you want!) into a paste, and insert the finerly chopped herbs and garlic into the holes. Pour olive oil over the meat, and bake for two hours at 350 degrees, turning the meat after one hour. At the end of the second hour, pour the balsamic vinegar and white wine over the meat and bake for another 15 minutes. In a separate pot, boil the potatoes in water for 5 minutes, drain, and add them to the baking dish around the lamb, and baste them with the lamb juice. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Serve hot!

 

CLASSIC BAKED HAM

INGREDIENTS:

3 lbs. uncooked ham

1/4 cup pineapple juice

2 tbs. dijon mustard

cloves, to taste

 

PREPARATION

 

Preheat oven to 350. Marinate the ham in a mixture of pineapple juice and mustard for one hour. Cut the surface of the ham into small squares and insert a clove in each square. Pour the juice and the ham in the baking pan and bake for 2 hours. Serve with steaming mashed potatoes or rice pilaf. 

 

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Ragù Toscano

April 16, 2019

An easy way to impress your family and friends. This tasty Tuscan Ragù is perfect for every occasion and for many meals, from pappardelle to gnocchi, or simply added to a crunchy bruschetta. 

Keep following us for many other homemade tasty Italian recipes!

 

RAGÙ TOSCANO
(Tuscan meat ragù)

INGREDIENTS (for 6 people)

  • 1 medium, finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup of finely chopped celery
  • ⅓ cup of finely chopped carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • ⅓ pound of ground pork
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • 2 cans of crushed plum tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup of white wine
  • salt, pepper, dill, oregano (to taste)

PREPARATION

In a medium-sized pan, pour in all the ingredients (except for the wine and tomatoes), and cook over medium heat. Sauté until everything is light golden brown. Stir constantly. Pour in the wine once the ingredients start to sizzle. Allow the wine to evaporate, and then add the tomatoes. Again, stir constantly and boil for two hours.
Buon appetito!

For a Tuscan Ragù vegetarian version, follow the same recipe, without adding the meat.

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Pappa al Pomodoro

April 9, 2019

A delicious and soothing meal.

Keep following us for many other homemade tasty Italian recipes!

 

 

PAPPA AL POMODORO

(Tomato soup)

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 baby carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup of white wine
  • 1½ cans of crushed tomatoes, plus two cups of cold water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 large slices of Italian bread (one week old)
  • ⅓ cup of chopped basil

PREPARATION

In a large pot, pour in the olive oil and add the chopped herbs (except the basil, which has to be put in the soup at the very end). When the mixture is a light golden color, add the wine; then the tomatoes, water, and spices. Gently boil over medium heat for about 1 hour. Cut the slices of bread into small cubes and add them to the soup.
The soup is done when all of the bread has been blended into the soup. Put in the basil, and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve the hot soup in bowls, and drizzle a little olive oil on each.
Buon appetito!

Donna Franca's Guide to Christmas Appetizers

December 18, 2018

Entertaining around the holidays can be stressful sometimes. Our goal at Donna Franca Tours is always to make planning painless for you, from your vacations in Italy and beyond, to your Christmas meals!

Below, you will find three easy recipes guaranteed to impress your family and friends with minimal effort. Buon appetito!! 

 

Crostini al burro e alici

(crostini with anchovies and butter)

 

INGREDIENTS

1 small can of flat anchovy filets

1 stick of butter

1 small French baguette

 

PREPARATION

Mix one stick of softened butter with very finely chopped anchovy filets. Cut the baguette into two inch slices and lightly toast them. When the mixture looks like pate, spread it with a knife over the toasted bread slices. Very tasty and quickly prepared.

 

Arancini

(small fried rice balls)

 

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup steamed arborio rice

2 fresh eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

1/3 cup tomato sauce

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon zested orange peel

3 cups of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1 cup olive oil

 

PREPARATION

In a large bowl, place the steamed rice, slightly cooled, and mix in the two beaten eggs, the tomato sauce, the nutmeg, and the orange zest. Add two tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the mixture, and blend everything together with your hands. Take the mixture in one tablespoon increments, forming small balls with your hands, and roll each ball in the remaining breadcrumbs. Place the balls in a pan with the olive oil and fry them, turning gently, until they are all light gold. Place them in a dish lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve them piping hot!

 

Stuffed Baby Portobello Mushrooms

 

INGREDIENTS

1 large package (about 20) of baby portobellos, cleaned
1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh pumpernickel breadcrumbs
4 tbsp olive oil
3 fresh roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1/3 cup parmigiano cheese, freshly grated
1/3 cup white wine
salt and coarse black pepper to taste

 

PREPARATION

With a small knife, carefully remove the interior of each mushroom, chop very finely, and place in a large bowl. In a medium sized pan, cook the onion and fresh herbs in the olive oil until golden brown. Add the wine and the tomatoes, and cook for 1/2 hour over medium heat. Pour the sauce into the bowl with the chopped mushroom, and add the walnuts and parmigiano. Mix everything together with your hands until it congeals. With a teaspoon, fill the cavity of each mushroom with the mixture. Place the filled mushrooms in a Pyrex dish and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Heading to Italy This Summer? 10 Things You Need To Know

July 19, 2018

1.Italy Weather in July & August?
July and August are the hottest months of the year in Italy. Temperatures reach their maximum while rainfall and clouds are few and far between. The daily average temperature is 77°F, with the average high at 87°F.

2.Currency?
Italy is part of the Euro Zone within the European Community. The official currency is the Euro.

3.Shopping Hours?
Shops are open from 9:00AM to 1:00PM and from 3:30PM to 7:30PM.
Major department stores operate on continuous hours. Shops in main tourist destinations are also open on Sundays. Beach resorts offer evening hours during the summer.

4.Time Zone?
Italy is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time goes into effect during the winter, however there generally is a one week lapse between the US time change and the Italian one. Italy is located in the Central European Time Zone. UTC/GMT+01:00

5.Do I need a Passport or Visa?
You will need a passport. A visa is not required for a U.S. or Canadian citizens holding a valid passport unless they expect to stay in Italy more than 90 days.
 

6.Should I Tip?
Tipping at hotels in Italy is not required but appreciated. You can tip the porter, usually no more than 5 Euros. You can tip the concierge, 1 – 2 Euros if he provides good service. You can tip the housekeeper, in which case 0.75 – 1.50 Euros per day is appreciated. It is recommended you tip around 0.50 Euros for a valet and the same for room service.

You are not expected to tip in Italy. A service charge is sometimes added to the bill, ranging from 1 to 3 Euros, or 10% - 15%. This charge must be indicated on the menu. Some may also add an extra charge for the diner ware and extras (tablecloth, silverware, plates, bread, etc.), this is normal. But check your bill! Tipping isn’t expected in Italian Spas, but if the service exceeds your expectations, you can tip up to 10%.

Tipping tour guides is very much appreciated but not expected. Common practice is in the range of 5 Euros for half a day, or 10 Euros for a full day, per person. In Italy you can tip your cab driver, but it isn’t expected nor is it common. Feel free to tip if they are extra helpful, they will appreciate it. It is good practice to agree a final fare before the journey begins.

7.Do people speak English?
The official language is standard Italian. Descending from the Tuscan Dialect and a direct descendent of Latin (75% of Italian words are of Latin origin).  Each region of Italy has in own dialect with variations at town level. The rich variety of Italy’s dialects are considered a great contribution to the country’s cultural heritage. English and some European languages are spoken in hotels, shops, and restaurants in the major tourist destinations.

8.What to wear to the Vatican?
The Mediterranean climate is hot, but not humid, during the summer and comfortably warm in the spring and fall. Casual cottons and easy care clothing is recommended. For Papal Audiences, inside church visits, women should dress modestly, with arms and head covered, no mini skirts or shorts, and men should wear short sleeves (no tank tops) and pants (no shorts). It is also customary for men and women to dress in a casual elegant fashion for dinner. Formal attire is not required.

9.Health Services?
Every city offers conveniently located drug stores (farmacia) where prescriptions may be filled and other health needs met. Pharmacies take turns to offer overnight services in case of need. Please contact 113 for an emergency, 114 for an infant emergency, 115 for the fire department, 118 for a medical emergency and 112 for the Caaibinieri (State Police).

10.Clothing Sizes?
The shoe sizes and shirt sizes in Italy are much different than America. View ourFAQ PAGE (under "Clothing Size") to see the sizing chart:http://www.donnafranca.com/faq

OUR 2018 BROCHURE HAS ARRIVED!

January 17, 2018

Donna Franca Tours is pleased to announce the release of our 2018 collection of unique travel experiences.  Our new brochure offers  a variety of suggested itineraries, all of which may be customized to create your ideal Italian vacation.  We offer unique cultural experiences throughout Italy and Sicily such as wine tasting, hands-on cooking classes and off the beaten path adventures. In 2018 due to our valued clients' requests for alternative itineraries, Donna Franca is offering trips to Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.

Please click on this link to receive your personal copy.

Pages

PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS & CONDITIONS | FAQ | © 2002-2019. DONNA FRANCA VACATIONS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Web site designed and developed byHungry Bird Creative Group