DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Tortelli (Carnival sweet)

February 26, 2020

These tortelli are typical of Carnevale in Italy, the famous festival in the days leading up to Lent. Each region, and indeed each family, has its own recipe. They are flavored with anise liqueur, grappa, and lemon zest.



  • 12 fluid ounces water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1+3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 fluid ounces anise-flavored liqueur
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons grappa
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups lard, or oil



Combine water, butter, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in flour until well mixed. Return saucepan to medium heat; cook and stir until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the saucepan, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir anise-flavored liqueur, sugar, grappa, and lemon zest into dough. Cool dough to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
Beat egg yolks into the cooled dough until well mixed. Cover bowl with a clean towel and let rest for 3 hours. Beat egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form; gently fold into the dough until no white streaks remain.
Heat lard in a heavy saucepan over medium heat or in a deep fryer. Form dough into balls the size of golf balls; fry in the hot lard in batches, until doughnuts are lightly browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.
Buon Appetito!


February 18, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is our Bagna Cauda!

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Literally translated as "hot bath," this dipping sauce for vegetables often appears in many Italian homes as part of the Christmas Eve buffet. Although cardoons (an edible thistle related to the artichoke but resembling celery) are traditional, celery makes a fine substitute and any combination of vegetables will do. In Italy, the routine goes like this: Vegetable pieces are dipped into the sauce (a fondue-style fork will help) and then eaten, with a slice of bread held underneath to catch the drippings. Once the bread is soaked with sauce, it's eaten, too. Then everyone starts over. It's fun for a party appetizer no matter where you live.


• 3/4 cup olive oil
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 12 anchovy fillets
• 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
• Assorted fresh vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 1-pound loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut into 2-inch sections

Blend oil, butter, anchovies and garlic in processor until smooth. Transfer oil mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Cook over low heat 15 minutes, stirring, occasionally. The sauce will separate. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce into fondue pot or other flameproof casserole. Set pot over alcohol burner or gas table burner to keep warm. Serve with vegetables and bread.
Buon Appetito!



February 11, 2020

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is the Maltese Pastrizzi!

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Maltese Pastizzi are the Maltese version of an empanada, hot pocket, calzone, etc. You get the picture. Dough on the outside and a filling of your choice on the inside. The most popular fillings are ricotta cheese (called pastizzi tal-irkotta) , curried ground beef with peas, or curried peas (called pastizzi tal-piżelli).



For the dough:
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup of water
• 2 tbs oil
• pinch of salt
• use Crisco to rub the dough.

For the filling:
• 30 oz of ricotta
• 1/2 cup Parmesan
• 1/4 cup mozzarella
• pinch of parsley, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the dough ingredients all together until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and is elastic. Take it out of the bowl and rub it sparingly with Crisco. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes and then put it into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.


When the dough is ready to be worked. Lay it on a cold counter top. Because the dough has been rubbed with Crisco, you won’t need to flour your surface. Cut the dough in half and work one half first. You will want to stretch and roll your dough into a thin and long rectangle. Then rub down again with Crisco. Now you roll the dough. This is what give the dough it’s flakiness.
Once it is rolled. Set aside and roll the second half of the dough you had set aside into a rectangle.
You will then set your rolled up dough on top of your new rectangle at its edge.
And then roll that together. Lay it in a coil. Freeze it until almost hard so it’s easier to cut and work with in a bit.
For the ricotta filling, you will have to mix 30 ounces of ricotta with Parmesan cheese, a bit of shredded mozzarella, and a sprinkle of parsley, salt and pepper.
Now it’s time for assembly: first cut a slice of your dough. Take your slice of your dough and place it between two pieces of plastic wrap. You will want to see the interior layers facing up. Roll into a circle shape. Then you will fold one side over until it meets the edge of the other side. Lay onto a cookie sheet and and seal.
Place the pastizzi in at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until brown.
Buon Appetito!


February 4, 2020

Our Recipe of the Week is Donna Franca's Spaghetti with Meatballs!

Spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti with meatballs is an Italian-American dish consisting of spaghetti, tomato sauce and meatballs.
It is widely believed that spaghetti and meatballs was an innovation of early 20th-century Italian immigrants in New York City, who had access to a more plentiful meat supply than in Italy.

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• 1 large package (1½ pounds) of Barilla thick spaghetti
• ½ pound of ground veal or lean beef
• ½ pound of ground lean pork
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
• ½ cup of grated Parmigiano cheese
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• ½ teaspoon of ground coarse black pepper
• 2 slices of Italian bread soaked in milk
• ½ cup of olive oil
• 5 cups of tomato sauce

In a large bowl, mix the meat with parsley, salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Add the bread, after squeezing out the excess milk. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs; and then add them to the meat mixture in the large bowl. Take one large tablespoon of meat and roll it in your hand to form a small ball. Repeat this for each meatball.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil; and pour in the meatballs. Do not fry them; just cook them for 5 minutesby turning them around. Place the meatballs on a plate covered with a paper towel to remove excess oil before you put them in the sauce. The meatballs will finish cooking in the sauce.
In a saucepan of salted water, cook the pasta al dente. Strain the pasta, and pour it into a large platter. Mix it with sauce, and sprinkle some grated Parmigiano cheese over it. Decorate the platter with the meatballs. Buon appetito!


January 28, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Fettuccine Cacio e Pepe!

Fettuccine Cacio e Pepe

• 1 package of fettuccine egg pasta
• 1 stick of unsalted butter
• 1 tablespoon of coarse black pepper
• ⅓ cup of light cream
• ½ cup of grated parmigiano
• salt to taste

In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the light cream, pepper, salt, and most of the grated cheese. Mix everything for 3 minutes. Boil the fettuccine pasta “al dente.” Strain and pour the pasta into the fry pan. Mix everything quickly over a light flame. Pour the pasta in a large platter and finish it with the rest of the grated cheese and the coarse black pepper.
Buon appetito!

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January 20, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Lasagne!
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Lasagna (for 6 people)

• 12 ounces of fresh, lasagna pasta (can be purchased at supermarkets)
• 2 cups of cooked ragùsauce
• 2 cups of cooked spinach
• 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
• 1 stick of butter
• 2 cups of besciamella (béchamel)

First of all, prepare the besciamellamilk sauce. Pour 3 cups of milk in a pan; mix in one stick of butter, 6 tablespoons of white flour, salt to taste. Bring the ingredients to a boil on medium heat, constantly stirring the milk sauce. When the sauce starts to thicken (in about 3 minutes), remove the pan from the stove to cool the mix.In a large baking Pyrex pan rubbed with soft butter, put a layer of lasagna, cover it with a light layer of ragù, a layer of besciamella, a layer of spinach and sprinkle over a handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the procedure to the last piece of lasagna. Cover the top with some ragù sauce, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, besciamella, and a few cubes of butter. Bake the lasagna at 365 degrees for 25 minutes. I am sure you will enjoy the results!
Buon appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Abbacchio alla Cacciatora

January 6, 2020

Our Recipe Of The Week is Donna Franca's Abbacchio alla Cacciatora!


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Abbacchio alla Cacciatora


·      5 pounds of deboned leg of lamb

·      2 cups of white vinegar

·      ⅓ cup rosemary leaves

·      ⅓ cup of minced garlic

·      ⅓ cup of finely chopped fresh mint

·      salt and black coarse pepper to taste

·      ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar

·      ¼ cup of house white wine

·      ⅓ cup of olive oil

·      6 potatoes cut in medium cubes


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

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Calamari and Peas in Tomato Sauce with Steamed Basmati Rice

December 24, 2019

Our Recipe of the Week is Donna Franca's Calamari and Peas in Tomato Sauce with Steamed Basmati Rice!

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(for 8 people)

• 2 pounds of fresh, cleaned calamari or squid, cut in small strips
• 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
• 5 tablespoons of olive oil
• ⅓ cup of finely chopped parsley
• 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint
• salt and crushed red pepper to taste
• ⅓ cup of white wine
• 1 pound bag of frozen small peas
• 1 cup of crushed tomatoes
• ½ cup of water
• 3 cups of steamed basmati rice

In a large pan, pour the olive oil and add the garlic. When the garlic is light golden, add the fresh herbs, salt and red pepper, and sauté for a few minutes. Add the wine and cut-up calamari; cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then, add the bag of peas, crushed tomatoes, and water. Boil the calamari and mixture on low heat for about 1 hour, stirring it often. The calamari are done when most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve them over steamed basmati rice.
Buon appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Wild Salmon Fillets Poached in Lemon and Olive Oil

December 17, 2019

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Wild Salmon Fillets Poached in Lemon and Olive Oil!

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(for 6 people)
• 3 wild salmon fillets (each cut in two pieces)
• 2 lemons
• ⅓ cup of olive oil
• 1 pinch of garlic powder
• 1 pinch of black pepper
• 1 pinch of dill
• 1 pinch of dry oregano

Set your oven to broil. Place the 6 pieces of salmon in a large Pyrex dish lined with foil. Drizzle the olive oil over them and add the spices, along with the juice from the two lemons. Place the Pyrex dish on the lower rack of the oven, and broil each side of the fillets for ten minutes. Serve hot with your preferred steamed vegetables tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Buon appetito!


December 10, 2019

Our Recipe of the Week is Donna Franca's Focaccia!

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• 1 package of pita bread
• 2 cups of stir-fried vegetables of your choice (spinach with garlic, peppers with onions, zucchini with onions)
• 1 package of shredded mozzarella cheese
• 4 grilled Italian sausages, finely chopped (can be substituted with ½ pound of finely chopped prosciutto or rosemary ham)
• 4 tablespoons of olive oil

Take one piece of pita bread. Fill it with your choice of ingredients, roll it, brush with olive oil, and bake in the oven at 365 degrees until the crust of the pita bread in light brown in color. Cut the rolled pita bread into 4 pieces. Serve them hot on a plate with a salad of mixed greens. Quick and easy, and very appetizing.

Buon appetito!




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