Bianca’s Super Veggie Medley

Biancas Veggie Medley 1

My 5-year old loves Brussels sprouts and broccoli, and this is her favorite way to eat them! It’s so delicious that I thought I’d also share it with you guys.

SuperFoods by Dinnerinvenice

After all the cheesy pasta dishes I posted this winter, I really owed you a recipe with some vitamins and fiber…..

Biancas Veggie Medley

Bianca’s Super Veggie Medley

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

25 minutes

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 small cauliflower (or ½ one large)
  • 1 head broccoli
  • about 12 Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 red onion
  • 12 black or red grapes
  • 12 white grapes
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the cauliflower and the broccoli into pieces, and halve the Brussels sprouts. Cook all three vegetables separately until tender but firm: you can steam them for about 10 minutes or cook them in your microwave (covered with plastic wrap, leaving an opening for the steam) for about 4 or 5.

Halve the grapes, and eliminate any seeds.

Heat the oil in a skillet. Cut the onion in very thin slices and sauté them in the oil with the grapes for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and cook for 8 more minutes. Toast the pine nuts in the oven or in a second skillet brushed with little oil. Add the pine nuts to the veggie medley, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 more minute. Decorate with the thyme and serve.

http://dinnerinvenice.com/2014/04/01/biancas-super-veggie-medley/

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almond cake BOCCA DI DAMA.HD

Bocca di dama with Orange Caramel

Whenever I bite into this delicious almond cake, I can’t help but wonder about the origins of its name: Bocca di Dama means “Lady’s Mouth” in Italian. Was a romantic baker in love with a beautiful customer? Or is the cake so sweet, soft and moist that it reminded someone of a passionate kiss? This Passover dessert, popular among the Jews of Leghorn and in several other Sephardic communities, is so ancient that nobody really knows. The only thing that’s certain is that, just like kisses, it’s highly addictive, and you probably won’t be able to stop at the first bite. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: if it’s just you, and the cake, you are set for failure. Surround yourself with lots of guests. My husband once made the whole thing disappear overnight. In this version, the tanginess of orange complements the mild and buttery texture and flavor of the almonds: use organic fruit for the best results. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:120] … [Read More...]

FARRO CON RUCOLA, MIELE E PERE

Farro Salad with Pears and Cheese

Farro is a "cousin" of spelt, and a grain so ancient that it is said to have sustained the Roman legions with its nutty flavor, chewy texture, and high fiber, vitamin, and protein content. When I was growing up my mom would always bring back some from our visits to Nonna in Tuscany. Our friends in Venice would taste her soups or cakes with a combination of curiosity and suspicion: at the time, in fact, farro was used only in a few Italian regions, and mostly in peasant dishes. By the way, these are the same friends who were puzzled by her use of olive oil, which they considered a heavier and less healthy alternative to butter or margarine! In more recent years, however, farro has made it onto the chic tables of all northern Italy , and even to the United States, where it flies off the shelves of gourmet grocery stores such as Zabar's and Citarella's. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:119] More with Farro: My Chestnut & Farro Soup NYT's Farrotto with Mushrooms Lucullian … [Read More...]

sformatini di carciofi

Artichoke Sformatini

Behind a tough, thorny covering, the artichoke hides a tender and fragrant heart. Through the centuries, this contrast has inspired a number of literary productions, from Greek legends to contemporary poetry. And with all due respect to my Israeli friends, the artichoke’s reputation  in this sense even precedes that of the “Sabra”! While we think of the artichoke as a vegetable, it is technically the edible and tasty bud of a flower, which makes it even more romantic – not to mention the satisfaction of finally eating something that it took us two hours and a couple of knife accidents to clean. In Italy, we are all notoriously obsessed with local food, and we all insist that our particular regional variety is the best (note to my Roman friends: please don't even bother to comment and criticize under this post, our differences on the topic can not be reconciled!). Italian Jews like me are possibly even more passionate than the others about this topic, given that until at least the … [Read More...]

CRESPELLE AGLI ASPARAGI E FORMAGGIO DI FOSSA

Crespelle with Asparagus

This post is very special: it’s a virtual wedding surprise for a young and talented food blogger, Ali (check out her yummy recipes on AliBabka), who just tied the knot with her lucky and well-fed Matan yesterday. A Jewish wedding is not complete without 7 special blessings over the couple (Sheva Brachot). At the ceremony, they are recited by friends and family members first under the chuppa (wedding canopy) before the breaking of the glass, and then again after the meal. Among more traditional Jews, the Sheva Berachot are recited again for the whole week following the wedding, at festive meals that friends and family of the couple take turns throwing in their honor every night. While it’s impossible not to pack on a couple of extra pounds, and the honeymoon needs to be postponed, many Jewish couples remember the week of Sheva Berachot with more affection than the wedding itself, simply because it’s so nice to be cared for and pampered by the ones we love! In this spirit, a … [Read More...]

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Venetian Carnival Galani

In case you were wondering, “Dinner in Venice” did not grow up with the Carnival: when I was little, all that was left of the old glories was a few fried sweets and children’s costume parties of the same scale as an average birthday. Imagine my excitement  at age 10 - and my mom's concern - when the local government announced that, in an effort to promote the history and culture of Venice (read: boost tourism and the resulting income) they were going to bring back the historical Carnival. It was 1979, and about 3 millions extra visitors have been literally flooding Venice each winter ever since. The first record of some type of Carnival celebrations in Venice is in a document from 1094, which describes plenty of partying and dancing in the weeks before Lent, a penitential period for the Christians;  however, the history buffs among you will be quick to point out that the roots of Carnivals can also be traced in those ancient pagan rituals for the passage of seasons, such as the … [Read More...]

Four Cheese Pasta

Four Cheese Pasta – Italian Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese occupies a special place in the American heart, as the ultimate comfort food. To tell you the truth, when I moved here from Italy and found out that people were so crazy about this abomination in a box, I thought you guys were all a bit eccentric. Really – why would you want your (processed, powdered) cheese to be orange? Not that it was a big deal: I have my own issues with junk food – namely, digging into the Nutella jar when under pressure. However, when my children started coming back from school demanding Mac & Cheese, I went from mildly entertained to outraged (after all, I spend hours canning made-from-scratch tomato sauce!). I did try to lecture them about the superiority of fresh ingredients, the importance of vegetables, blah blah blah, but they ignored me. I needed a better strategy. Here is how I gained back my cool factor. Meet Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi, the Italian ancestor of Mac & Cheese. While it’s probably terrible for you (I can’t … [Read More...]

biscottini da te alle nocciole

Hazelnut Cocoa Tea Cookies

Biscottini da Te' al Cacao e Nocciole Italy’s Langhe region, in the heart of Piedmont, produces some of the finest wines in the world. However, to many foodies, Langhe is first and foremost synonymous with nutty and chocolaty treats.  The local hazelnut, “Tonda Gentile”, is in fact considered the highest-quality hazelnut in the world, and the jewel of the Italian production. Even the famous food writer David Lebovitz writes, “I do not like to speak in superlatives, so when I say that the hazelnuts from Piedmont are really the best I’ve ever tasted—believe it”. The pure, fresh air of these vine-covered hillsides does seem to work some kind of magic on both the flavor and texture of the nut.  And magic it could well be: the Langhe hills, topped by medieval churches and often wrapped in a mysterious fog, which fades the natural colors into soft purples and muted greens, inspired in the past many superstitions about witches’ gatherings! Of course, after the Piedmontese confectioners … [Read More...]

double.frisinsal

Frisinsal – Pharaoh’s Wheel

 For this article and recipe in The Forward, click here   For this article and recipe in The Forward, click here … [Read More...]

S 10 880 PURE DI PATATE

Potato Puree

The term “comfort food” originated in the US, and I’ve heard it used In Italy only recently, mostly by food-bloggers. That’s not to say that we didn’t have comfort food before, we just didn’t have a name for it. On top of that, our choices are often different. Where you go for hamburgers, we dig into spaghetti; when you take out the ice cream, we open the Nutella jar. There is one exception, a unifying, universal ingredient: mashed potatoes.  In Northern Italy, when a mom wants to comfort her kids after a not-so-great grade at school, a broken heart, or simply a long week of rain, she will serve this crowd-pleaser as a side: Pure’ di patate  (potato puree), a silky, creamy and scrumptuous blend of starchy potatoes, milk and butter. While mashed potatoes can be dry, lumpy, hyper-garlicky, and even gloppy, puree is velvety smooth, and will win the pickiest palates over with its decadence. Not even your carb-phobic friends will be able to resist it. * for a non-dairy version, replace … [Read More...]

S 17 00 POLPETTE DI PESCE

Venetian Jewish Fish Balls

  In spite of the many tourist traps that give Venice, and many other popular destinations, a bad rep, if you have a chance to spend some quiet days there you will appreciate how the absence of cars has crystallized this city into a different dimension, with a magical sense of time. The pedestrian way of life is not something Venetians are forced to, rather they embrace it – after all, they have access to water buses – but they prefer to leave them to the hordes of tourists. Walking to and from work does not only provide us with a built-in form of daily exercise; it makes it very likely to bump into friends unexpectedly (only 60,000 people live in Venice), which usually results into a stop at one of the city's bàcari (wine bars) to catch up over an ombra (a “shadow”, or a small glass) of wine or a Spriss cocktail, and cicheti, the signature snacks.  Cicheti is a Venetian term used to describe a wide range of bite-size local treats, from deep-fried seafood and rice croquettes to … [Read More...]

7109 Risotto allo champagne uva bianca

Prosecco and White Grape Risotto

If you read my previous post about our New Year's traditions, you know about the importance that Italians place upon some food symbols of plenty. This occasionally verges on the superstitious, and on New Year’s Eve you will see some people stuffing themselves with lentils and grapes as if there's no tomorrow. The Spanish also follow this custom of eating grapes at midnight, but they stop at 12, one for each month of the new year. Both in the Judeo-Christian and in the pagan/Greek-Roman traditions, grape clusters deliver such a symbolic punch that it’s quite clear why they have become the center of our celebrations for Capodanno (New Year’s Eve); either in their natural form, which can be appreciated by everybody beyond age, cultural and religious barriers, or in the form of wine - the bubbly, sparkly spumante for the midnight toast! As proven by countless sculptures, frescos and paintings, grapes in Italy have been for hundreds of years the allegory of wealth and well-being. In … [Read More...]

bocconcini di tacchino in crosta di frutta secca

Turkey Hazelnut Skewers with Pomegranate Sauce

In case you haven’t figured it out on your own yet, Italians love to party, and even if Christmas (or, as in my case, Hanukkah) has left us exhausted and bloated, we would never give up an opportunity to celebrate again – and here comes New Year’s Eve! As opposed to the religious holidays, New Year’s Eve is usually spent with friends rather than family – which can translate into much wilder festivities! Over-the-top midnight fireworks welcome the new year in the center of most towns (Naples boasts one of the best), but people also tend to include firecrackers and sparklers in their private parties, which keeps the ERs quite busy., Talking about accidents, some places in the south follow the puzzling custom of throwing old things out the window to symbolically accept the freshness of the New Year: watch out for appliances such as washers and dryers around midnight!!!! In Venice, where I grew up, people stick to safer games, such as playing Italian bingo (tombola), and perpetuate … [Read More...]

Surprise Holiday Chest

Surprise Holiday Chest

From Chanukkah to Christmas and of course birthdays, most of you will have to admit that part of the fun about giving and receiving presents lies in the packaging and wrap, which add an element of mystery and surprise to any gift. They conceal the object’s shape and any writings on the box, and increase our excitement and anticipation. For the aesthetes among us, the packaging can outshine the gift (or it can be used to hide a more metaphysical content – for more on this, you can read one of my favorite children’s books, “The Gift of Nothing”). This rule of course applies to food, which is why chocolates seem to taste so much better when they come in a gorgeous box. The Japanese take this to the next level, cutting their vegetables into beautiful shapes and serving their kids’ school meals in lacquered bento boxes.  This probably sounds like too much work and most of us would not be willing to do it everyday, but when it comes to holiday desserts, I know that we are all willing to … [Read More...]

CAFFE' ALLA VIENNESE

Chocolaty Vienna-Style Coffee

Have you ever heard of “Caffe Viennese” or “Vienna Coffee”? I have to confess that I never really checked if it actually has anything to do with Vienna, or if it does my version may not be the most authentic: I discovered this perfect beverage during my college years, in the historic cafes of Venice and Trieste - such as the Florian and the Tommaseo - and regarded it as my grown-up upgrade from Italian hot chocolate. My roommates and I found that it helped immensely with the cold, the fog, the all-nighters before exams, and heartless boyfriends . While in general I find that most elaborate coffee drinks are just bad examples of “gilding the lily”, please trust me with this: it’s an improvement upon perfection! Keep in mind that we are not talking about ordinary ingredients. Yes, chocolate tastes great, but there is more to it than what meets the lips: it’s full of chemicals that are associated with mood and emotion (phenylethylamine, theobromine, anandamide and tryptophan, … [Read More...]

Rebecchini- Fried Polenta Sandwiches

Rebecchini – Fried Polenta Sandwiches

Maize polenta is creamy, delicious and filling, and for centuries represented the main staple in the poor, everyday cuisine of a large part of Northern Italy. Once it cools off and hardens, it can be recycled into a variety of dishes, from a "pasticcio" with meat or cheeses, to a cake, to these savory fried sandwiches (a classic Jewish Italian recipe, and perfect for Hanukkah). If you don't like anchovies ( I LOVE them!), you can replace them with smoked cheese. If you have never made polenta before, check out these detailed instructions on one of my favorite Italian food blogs in English, Memorie di Angelina. 1 cup polenta (finely ground or quick cooking) salt (about 1 tsp) water to make polenta (follow instruction on the package, or about 3 cups) 12 anchovies (salt packed is better, but oil-packed is OK)) 4-5 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil to make anchovy paste 1 clove garlic (whole) dredging flour 3 eggs olive oil for frying  In a large heavy pot, boil water … [Read More...]

Jayne 214

Fried Chicken Cutlets, Italian-Jewish Style – by Jayne Cohen

Today I have a very special surprise for you: a guest post by my friend Jayne Cohen, a food writer and expert whose passion for Italy and its cuisine should earn her an honorary Italian passport. Among many other accomplishments, Jayne is the author of one of my most treasured cookbooks, Jewish Holiday Cooking, which includes 200 tasteful, elegant and special recipes for the holidays. My personal favorite is her hamantaschen with dates and pistachios (yum!). Visit her blog, Beyond Brisket, on JWI Magazine! For Hanukkah, Jayne is sharing her version of Italian Fried Chicken, and her memories of Casale Monferrato: enjoy! A Hanukkah Story from Casale Monferrato Text and recipe adapted from Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations by Jayne Cohen(print and e-book, John Wiley & Sons) Like most travelers, we were lured by the taste of Barolo, the scent of truffles and extraordinary hazelnuts, but what we will remember most about Piedmont is the … [Read More...]

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Panna Cotta alla Melagrana – Pomegranate Cream Custard

Panna cotta (cooked cream in Italian) is a traditional dessert from Northern Italy, prepared by simmering milk, sugar and cream and mixing them with gelatin. It literally takes minutes to make, but never fails to “wow” the guests. For a holiday version, I spiced it up with ponegranate seeds – a symbol of prosperity and good luck in many different traditions, not to mention a perfect contrast of color and flavor with the cream. Serve it for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year, or a romantic anniversary dinner! 1 cup heavy cream 2/3 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup powdered sugar 1 vanilla bean, cut into 2 1 package powdered gelatin 2 cups pomegranate juice 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds Soften about 2/3 of the gelatin in a few spoonfuls the cold milk. Heat the rest of the milk with the sugar and the cut vanilla bean. Once it's hot, stir in the gelatin mixture and mix until smooth. Allow to cool, discard the vanilla bean, and stir in the heavy cream. Pour about 3/4" of this mixture … [Read More...]

Pagine Ebraiche (in Italian)

Pagine Ebraiche- Italian Jewish Publication

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Bread and Spinach Dumplings – Strangolapreti

In contrast with today’s rampant carb-phobia, bread was considered for many centuries the most sacred of foods. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, bread was always a symbol of God’s generosity toward mankind and of the fecundity of the earth- it’s still the center of countless religious rituals, not to mention superstitions and everyday idioms. As a consequence, in many cultures there was always a stigma associated with wasting it or throwing it out, not only among the poor, but even in wealthier households; which is how bread became the main protagonist of the history of sustainable cooking. Growing up in Italy, I learned how to store bread in paper bags so it wouldn’t become moldy. Rather, it dried out: after a couple of days it could be soaked in water, milk or broth and turn into thick soups or bread cakes, or add fluffiness to meatballs. If we waited a bit longer, we would simply grate it into crumbs. Each region has its traditional recipes, but it was during my vacations in … [Read More...]

CREMA AGLI AMARETTI E CIOCCOLATO

Espresso-spiked Chocolate Ricotta Mousse

One of the immediate consequences of receiving a Syntia machine as a thank-you token after my lecture for Lavazza Coffee and Philips Saeco  at Eataly last September, was that I started putting espresso into everything. Literally: I experimented with stews, fish, fennel, fresh pasta, smoked cheese… with a couple of exceptions, everything seemed to taste more interesting. It’s probably because our sense of smell is responsible for about 4/5 of what we taste – that’s why we lose our appetite when we have a cold and our nose is blocked! With its intense and unique aroma, high-quality coffee is an extraordinary ingredient and can add sophistication to a variety of dishes, savory or sweet.  However, I have to admit that it was its performance in desserts to really capture my culinary imagination. You see, I wasn’t really born with a sweet tooth and I can truly appreciate sugar only when I mix it with something different, whether it’s sour (lemon gelato), salty (chocolate pretzels!), or … [Read More...]

Torta di Polenta (Corn Meal Cake)

Thanksgiving Cornmeal Cake from the Veneto

It was eight years ago, just a few months after moving to the City, that I experienced my first Manhattan Thanksgiving: ironically, I ended up celebrating the quintessential American holiday at an Italian friend’s home. Daniela had arrived in New York one year before me, and was so smitten with it that she scored higher on the Time Out Magazine test “Are You a Real NewYorker?” than all our American friends. It was her idea to throw an Italian-style Thanksgiving dinner, incorporating the various traditional foods of the holiday into Italian recipes. Given that she is a superb cook, carrying the extraordinary legacy of three different Jewish Italian culinary styles – the Piedmontese, the Venetian and the Ferrarese -  it’s no surprise that the meal was an absolute masterpiece. I had the impression that for the American guests, eating these Italian delicacies instead of the classic turkey with cranberry sauce also felt a little naughty! While I can’t replicate the special atmosphere of … [Read More...]

Creamy Carrot Soup with No Cream (Parve)

Carrot Cream Soup – cream-less and dairy-free

In Italy, creamy soups - or "vellutate" - are not usually made with cream (an ingredient that we like to leave to the French): the texture is given by the addition of a simple potato or a handful of rice. The starches in the rice are slowly released during the cooking, and act as a thickener and an emulsifier at the same time. Slowly-released starches are what gives creaminess to authentic risottos, and also the reason why we add the pasta cooking water to our sauce (the starches released by the pasta turn the cooking water into an emulsifier, and a thickener). Better than fairy dust! This method obviously helps limit saturated fats, but it’s also a great resource for the dairy-intolerant, or the kosher cooks who need dairy-free dishes to serve with meat. If you love smooth textures, you can turn any vegetable soup into a vellutata simply by throwing in a boiled potato and some water and processing everything in the blender. An easy way to recycle your second-day … [Read More...]

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Baccalà Mantecato – Salt Cod Mousse

This article and recipe appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward - to read them, click here … [Read More...]

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Baked Pears with Sorbet and Berries

My grandmother used to serve a lot of simple, not-too-sweet fruit desserts such as baked fruit and compotes. After the spread of commercial bakery products, many of us have forgotten about this option: it always seems easier to buy a box of cupcakes... however, when you start feeling like you've had way too much sugar, and you need a break, it's time to go back to the good oldies! While you may choose them mostly because they are waistline-friendly (especially if you are switching from cupcakes), cooked fruit desserts have the added bonus of  vitamins and fiber, and many find them more appealing than raw fruit on cold fall and winter nights. Buon appetito! 4 ripe pears 1 cup lemon sorbet 1/2 cup strawberries, or other berries 1/2 cup blueberries peel of one organic lemon a teaspoon of unsalted butter, or nut oil for a non-dairy/parve version (almond, coconut) Wash the pears and cut of a small slice from the bottom so they can stand straight.  Without peeling … [Read More...]

I RAGNI (The Spiders)

The Spiders

I grew up in Italy being told not to take candy from strangers, and still find it a bit shocking when strange kids knock at my door on Halloween night! While the more religiously conservative are offended by Halloween's pagan roots, the holiday seems to have become completely secularized and to focus on pumpkins, spooky costumes and tons of candy. Many people love it because it seems to address children's natural fears (monsters, darkness, etc), and by presenting them in a social and funny context, it could help diffuse them. I'm not making this up, it's called "virtual reality therapy": basically, people who are afraid of spiders pay big bucks to a psychologist to be put in a room full of them... well, if it's so effective, it might be worth a try, even for those of us who would rather do it at a different time of the year. It works with grown-ups too: here are the cutest little spiders, created by my friend Lucilla to address my own proverbial fear.  Ingredients (makes 6 … [Read More...]

Sfogliata Gianduja e Pere (Puff Strudel with Chocolate, Hazelnuts and Pears) (Dairy or Parve)

Puff Strudel with Chocolate, Hazelnuts and Pears (Sfogliata al Gianduja e Pere)

The combination of hazelnuts and chocolate is wildly popular in Italy – I’m sure you have heard of Nutella!  The original version is Gianduja - a concoction made of chocolate and hazelnuts invented in Turin during the Napoleonic blockade, when the precious cocoa beans had become scarce and the famous Piedmontese chocolatiers had to find a way to make them go further-. It didn’t hurt, of course, that their hazelnuts (from the Langhe area of Piedmont) were said to be the best in the world, and that Turin was the birthplace of solid chocolate. As you can imagine, the result was much more interesting than other hard-times-inspired products (such as the French chicory "coffee"), and even after the end of the blockade the Torinese kept enjoying their new delicacy, and named it “gianduja” after a local marionette character. Besides enjoying the tasty combo in the form of a spread or in confections (the delicious gianduiotti - the first-ever chocolates to be individually wrapped!), … [Read More...]

Chestnut and Apple Cake

Chestnut and Apple Cake – GF

The chestnut tree can live for up to 500 years, and its fruit has been a staple in the Italian diet since ancient times. In some Northern and central regions, people ate mostly chestnuts until well into the twentieth century! While this is no longer the case, towards the end of October stands pop up in most cities selling hot caldarroste (roasted chestnuts), which people enjoy while walking with friends when it's too cold for gelato. However, they are just as tasty when boiled with some fresh herbs (try bay leaves), or mashed and used to make very special gnocchi! In Tuscany, where my mother grew up, chestnut flour is also widely available and used to make the traditional castagnaccio, a rustic cake with raisins, pine nuts, rosemary and olive oil. My nonna used to serve it with a little warm ricotta mixed with a few drops of honey, which was a killer pairing and so much healthier than whipped cream. Try it with my apple cake! You won't believe it's gluten-free... Ingredients (serves … [Read More...]

“Orzotto” with Vegetables – Barley “Risotto” (Parve or Dairy)

Orzotto: Barley “Risotto”

Last fall I gave a demo on healthful and elegant Italian cuisine at the JCC Manhattan during their Fitness for Everybody Fair. One of the ingredients I presented was barley, a grain with many beneficial properties. Unlike wheat, it contains a high amount of soluble fibers (betaglucans), which have a positive effect on cholesterol and provide an immediate sense of satiety - something that will be appreciated by those of you who are trying to keep their weight in check. It's full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and has been shown to help liver and kidney function. What’s not to like? This way of cooking barley, with the same technique that Italians apply to rice in risottos, is typical of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the North-East, and I tried it in dozens of variations when I was a student in Trieste. Ingredients (serves 4) 3 or 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 a large onion, finely chopped 1½ cups pearl barley ½ cup dry white wine (optional) 6 cups hot … [Read More...]

… or simply wrap your Meatloaf in Cabbage Leaves! (Meat)

Stuffed Cabbage, Italian-Style

The long marathon of Jewish Holiday ends each Fall with Simchat Torah: on this day, all the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark and paraded around the synagogue while people dance and sing around them. Every Shabbat a different portion of the Torah is chanted in synagogue, and it takes a year to complete the cycle: on Simchat Torah, the end of Deuteronomy is reached, and we start again from Bereshit (Genesis). Because its shape resembles that of Torah scrolls, one of the most traditional foods for Simchat Torah, found in Jewish communities all over the world in different variations, is stuffed cabbage. Italy is no exception: in Venice, we cook it in stock; in Rome they use oil, onion and tomato; others make a Sephardi version, using lamb instead of veal/beef; some add raisins and pine nuts. If you'd like to try something different, instead of stuffing each leaf you can make a large meat loaf and wrap it in several leaves: Italian Jews have many versions of “Polpettone” (meat loaf) … [Read More...]

Cioccolata Calda (Italian Hot Chocolate)

Italian Hot Chocolate (Cioccolata Calda)

Most of us know that the Mayas and their ancestors were already gobbling unsweetened hot cocoa 2000 years ago. Some historians believe that we also have to thank the Jews - for introducing sweet, hot chocolate drinks to Europe. In fact, many Conversos fleeing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition ended up in South America in the early 1500s, where they learned how to grow and process the cocoa beans, which they started exporting to the Old Continent, together with cane sugar. Hot chocolate and coffee were both such a hit In many parts of Europe, that they put many wine bars out of business. In Venice alone, where the first coffee house in Europe was opened around 1645, some 400 (!) more sprouted in the next 150 years. However, while most could afford coffee, because it was imported directly from Arabia, chocolate (which came from the Americas and had to pass through many intermediaries) was expensive, and for a while it remained an exclusive habit enjoyed by the aristocracy, the … [Read More...]

TIRAMISU

Classic Tiramisu and my Espresso Addiction

Last month I was invited to give a lecture on the history coffee in Venice at New York City’s Italian Food Wonderland, Eataly (a place that everybody who calls him/herself a foodie needs to check out at least once!). I could hardly contain my excitement, because the event was co-sponsored by Lavazza Coffee and Philips Saeco and I was dying to see their new bean-to-cup coffee machines in action! Before I start telling you all about it, I actually have a confession to make, a deep dark secret to share: I’m a late bloomer. Until my late thirties I was one of those rare Italians who prefer tea – a calm, ritualistic beverage that I had romanticized since my days as an exchange student in England… Enter the two adorable pests, their 2 am “bad dreams” and their 6 am awakenings on weekends: in my forties, I finally turned to coffee as my legal drug of choice, as a matter of survival. Which brings me back to the excitement about the Syntia, which reached new heights when the Philips … [Read More...]

RISO ALLA CREMA DI ZUCCA E RADICCHIO

Pumpkin and Radicchio Risotto

How could we possibly welcome fall, and celebrate Thanksgiving, without pumpkin? For me, this also one of the symbols in my family's Rosh haShana seder and under the sukkah. One of my favorite ways to serve it is in a creamy and delicious risotto! Those who were born in the Veneto region, like me, also celebrate red radicchio and like to incorporate it into many different recipes. While a similar type of lettuce was already grown in North-Eastern Italy before the 16th century, the exact kind  we eat today, with its white-veined leaves, was engineered in the late 1800s by a Belgian agronomist. The different varieties are named after the Nothern Italian regions where they are cultivated: the easiest to find here in the United States is radicchio di Chioggia (maroon and round), and sometimes the radicchio di Treviso, which looks like a large red Belgian endive. Its mildly bitter flavor blends beautifully with the sweetness of the pumpkin or squash! Ingredients 1/2 pound … [Read More...]

Bucatini Pasta in Fontina Sauce with Hazelnuts and Thyme (Dairy)

Bucatini Pasta in Cheese sauce with Hazelnuts and Thyme

Ingredients (serves 4) 3/4 pounds bucatini* pasta   8 ounces of a sharp, creamy cheese that melts well (Italian Fontina/Fontal, or Brie or Camembert)  4 small leeks  2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil  1/4 cup heavy cream   1/4 cup milk (or less)  1/2 cup coarsely ground hazelnuts  f1 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme  salt and pepper to taste *(Bucatini are very thick spaghetti with a hole in the middle. Most major Italian brands make them, but if you can’t find them you can substitute linguine) Clean the leeks, discarding the green and harder parts, and slice them thinly. Heat the oil or butter in a skillet, add the leeks and cook until soft.  In the meantime, toast the hazelnuts in the oven for a few minutes, and grind them coarsely. Place the cheese in a heavy or non-stick skillet with the milk and cream, and allow it to melt, stirring frequently. Remove the skillet from the heat, and combine the cream/cheese mix with the cooked leeks … [Read More...]

Pumpkin and Pomegranate Cream Soup (Dairy)

Pumpkin Soup with Pomegranate and the meaning of Sukkot

Sukkot is an eight-day harvest holiday that starts four days after the fast of Yom Kippur; it is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. In ancient Israel Jews would build huts (Sukkah = hut) near the end of their fields during harvest season, so that they could spend more time in the fields and harvest more efficiently. For us, Sukkot is a reminder of how our ancestors  lived while wandering in the desert for 40 years (Leviticus 23:42-43), moving from one place to another and using tents (sukkot) for temporary shelter. Associated with these two meanings are three  main traditions: 1 – Building a sukkah. 2 – Eating inside it. 3 – Waving the lulav and etrog. (above, Sukkot seen by Italian artist Emanuele Luzzati) Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot , those observant Jews who have the space construct a sukkah in their backyards or decks (in cities like Manhattan or Venice with a lot of small apartments, it's normal to just share meals in the synagogue’s sukkah). In ancient times most … [Read More...]

S 87 970 SARDE IN SAOR

Fish in Saor – Venetian marinated sweet-and-sour fish

Most American Jews love to mark the end of the Yom Kippur fast with a spread of smoked fish, lox, whitefish, herring, and of course bagels and coffee. In this spirit, last year I had posted a recipe for a simple fish with raisins, which is served in several Italian communities on the same occasion. However, this year I couldn’t resist sharing with you a more elaborate option, one of my favorites: Fish “in Saor”. “Saor” means  “flavor”, in our dialect, and indeed this sweet-and-sour preparation bursts with such flavor that over the centuries it has become THE signature dish of Venice: it’s served as “cicheti’ (tapas) in the many osterias, and as hoers d’oeuvres in the finest restaurants, or passed from boat to boat under the fireworks at the traditional Redentore festival in July. Many Italians believe that the raisins and pine nuts in savory dishes (as in our stewed carrots, or our spinach frittata for Passover, and dishes with salt cod) always betray Jewish origins. … [Read More...]

Bollo

BOLLO – FRUIT CAKE TO BREAK THE YOM KIPPUR FAST

Bollo is a sweet-but-not-too-sweet bread with raisins, candied zest, and/or anise seeds (depending on which city you live in), served in many Italian and Sephardic communities to end the Yom kippur fast.  Its name means simply “cake" in Spanish and Portuguese, a sign that we need to thank the Iberian exiles for  yet another yummy treat! In Venice, we are literally handed a slice as we are walking out of synagogue at the end of services, on the steps. Obviously, even a piece of cardbord would taste great accompanied by a tall  glass of lemonade after 25 hours without food or water! However, this cake keeps being served over and over all through the fall holidays, upon entering the sukkah and until Shemini Atzeret. By then, we are usually stuffed, and I still love it - especially with jelly, for breakfast. The Bollo is also one of the key elements of the “Tavola dell’Angelo” (the Angel’s table), a ritual table setting that several Venetian families prepare on the eve of Yom Kippur … [Read More...]

Fluffy Honey Cake (Dairy or Parve)

Fluffy Honey and Orange Cake

In Italy, "Miele" (honey), is classified as compulsively as cheeses and olive oil - by area of origins, type of flower, and depending on whether pieces of honeycomb were included... we have strawberry-tree (corbezzolo) and Eucalyptus honeys from Sardinia, chestnut honey from Piedmont, millefiori (thousand flowers) from Tuscany, orange blossom from Sicily, acacia from the Pre-Alps, and many more. Every fall, I take a trip to Zebar's or Eataly where I stress out about which kind will grace my cake this Rosh HaShana! Rather than blaming this on my all-Italian obsession with ingredients, you should try for yourselves! After all, when the Almighty promised our forefathers that they would be freed from Egyptian bondage, the Promised Land was described as "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus. 3: 17, etc.) - and not with "milk and sugar"! In this cake, the orange balances out any excessive sweetness of the honey. Ingredients 4 medium/large eggs, separated 3/4 cup oil (canola … [Read More...]

Cotognata (Sweet Quince Paste) (Parve)

Quince Paste for Rosh HaShana

Quinces are from the same family as apples and pears. They are much uglier than both, and they taste horrible when eaten raw (I tried!). Feed them to the geese? Think again: as usual, our great-great-great grandmothers were able to turn even this ugly-duckling of a fruit into a delicious treat. So delicious, in fact, that many communities in Italy and elsewhere eat them instead of apples and honey as Tapuach, the first element in our Rosh HaShana seder symbolizing a sweet new year. (Other Italian traditions begin with dates – in Aramaic,Temareh – for the first blessing, and conclude with figs, apples or quinces). I hope you try this easy recipe and offer it next to your apples and honey. You will understand why, when quinces were still hard to come by in Manhattan stores, a friend of mine’s 80-year-old Italian grandmother (who shall go unnamed) would be found climbing up the trees in the garden of the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan before Rosh HaShana. We saw her in action and she was … [Read More...]

The Jewish Press

The Jewish Press: Italian Comfort Food

[Read More...]

FRITTATA TRICOLORE

Tri-Color Frittata

Frittata is the omelette’s Italian cousin: just like the omelette, it can be a great vehicle for using up any leftovers you happen to have around (even cooked pasta!), but it’s quicker and easier to make. It tastes great warm or cold, and once cut into wedges it is easily transportable, which is why  in Italy it's common to take a wedge to work for lunch. Of course it works just as well on your day off, whether you are having a picnic or hitting the beach. Frittatas are usually cooked on the stovetop, but if you dread the flip… feel free to bake yours in a regular oven! They are really quite foolproof, not to mention a quick, easy and inexpensive way to add some protein to any vegetables you have in your fridge and make them into a meal. In Italy, we don’t usually serve frittatas for breakfast, but at either lunch or dinner. They can be a main course at a light meal, or an appetizer before several other courses. While Italians in general love this kind of food, Italian Jews are … [Read More...]

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Watermelon and Cantaloupe Bruschetta

Bruschetta (which, by the way, should be pronounced [bru'sket:ta] ( listen) and not [bru’shet:ta], please!!!) is a snack that Italians have been  enjoying for centuries. It’s a simple slice of roasted bread, rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh tomato and basil. Tuscans, always the chic minimalists of Italy, skip the tomato and stick to olive oil and garlic; they call it Fettunta, “greased slice”. Of course they use the very first and very best oil of the season, which makes everything else seem redundant! Just like bread soups or bread puddings, bruschetta was born as a way to salvage bread that was going stale (note to Americans: real bread does get stale!), at a time when it was considered precious and nobody was watching their carbs and worrying about Atkins. Some Italian peasant, who never reached the fame of the Earl of Sandwich but remained nameless, had a culinary epiphany that would revolutionize the concept of … [Read More...]

Insalata Tricolore (Three Color Salad)

Insalata Tricolore (Three Color Salad)

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2] … [Read More...]

GELATO ALLA VANIGLIA CON MACEDONIA DI FRUTTI DI BOSCO

Gelato in a Phyllo Nest

One of the things that don’t cease to surprise me, after 18 years in the US, is how strongly, deeply, philosophically anti-air conditioning my fellow Italians can be. It’s not only about being more ecologically aware than our American counterparts – we really hold on to our grandmas’ belief that artificial cooling can cause a plethora of maladies, from headaches to stomach congestion (whatever that is), to pneumonia. Of course, when it’s 100+ degrees outside, we have our own cooling methods. 1)    (also called: Italian air conditioning) leave your windows open from about 10 pm to 7 am, to allow the cool breeze to come in. Keep them shut during the day. Grab a fan. 2)    Limit “real food” to dinner time; the rest of the day, eat mostly fruit and vegetables and indulge often in frozen desserts. To those of you who are cringing at the idea of daily ice cream, I’d like to point out that Italian gelato is made with milk instead of cream. Not only that, artisanal gelato includes real … [Read More...]

S 55 01 STEP 1 MINESTRONE

Minestrone – Italian Vegetable Soup

The word minestrone derives from the Latin verb  ministrare, which means ‘to administer’. Maybe because, as any Italian mother can witness, it is the most efficient way to administer lots of healthy vegetables to picky children, with few complaints! In many households, minestrone is made at least weekly and (thanks to the fact that it tastes even better when reheated), served several times as a primo piatto (first course) with both dairy and meat meals. I usually serve it plain on the first day; on the second day, I reheat it with some leftover cooked rice, pasta or even spelt. If it’s cold outside, or I'm simply too busy for multiple courses, I just throw in some beans to transform this light soup into an earthy meal. At the end of the week I add a boiled potato and turn the leftovers into a creamy passato (blended soup) with my hand blender. Just keep in mind, if you plan on stretching your soup over the course of a week, that you should skip tomatoes or it will spoil too … [Read More...]

S 01 02 I MARMELLATA DI MELE E MELANZANE

Grandma’s Eggplant and Apple Jam

Few things are more American than a PB & J sandwich. However, jelly itself has been a staple all over the world since antiquity, when someone figured out that even quince (a fruit that looks like an ugly apple, and that's too hard to be eaten raw) could taste delicious when slow-cooked with honey (incidentally, the word Marmalade derives from the Portuguese Marmelo (quince). Unlike our American children, spoiled by constant sugary snacks, it seems that people back then actually PREFERRED fresh fruit, because they didn’t attempt to make jelly with anything other than quince for centuries! It was the Persians or the Arabs, who had been producing sugar from cane, who finally came up with the idea of syrup and started using it to manufacture various preserves, experimenting with pectic fermentation and creating the first citrus fruit marmalades. With the conquest of Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy, the Arabs introduced all their confections, changing the European palate … [Read More...]

POMODORI RIPIENI

Gratin Tomatoes

Ask any Southern Italian, or Italian American, to imagine cooking without the color and the fragrance of tomato, and they will probably tell you it’s impossible. However, the use of tomato spread in European kitchens fairly recently: although it was first introduced in the 16th century, the vast majority of people treated it as a pretty, but possibly poisonous, decorative plant for at least the next two hundred years. In Peru, Mexico and Chile, where it originated from, the natives also treated it as unedible. While nobody was stirring Marinara, alchemists were concocting plenty of potions featuring the new fruit, which was believed to have aphrodisiac powers when ingested in small amounts. This accounts for the romantic names the plant was given, from England and France (Love Apple, Pomme d’Amour) to Italy Pomo d’Oro, Golden Apple) . It’s still unclear where and when, in Baroque Europe, someone first tasted the mysterious fruit. Maybe it was a brave and hungry farmer in … [Read More...]

INSALATA E OLIO

How to Dress a Salad, Italian-Style

As much as I love America, there is one thing food-wise, that I haven’t gotten used to in almost twenty years: salad dressings! Besides the fact that most store-bought dressings include a lot of processed ingredients, I find that most of these concoctions (even when home-made) combine so many different flavors that they hide, rather than enhance, that of the salad itself. Another issue is texture: most dressings are so thick that, rather than enveloping the leaves, they sit on them.  In Italy, we dress salads very simply with oil and vinegar, or oil and lemon,and in some cases just oil and salt, in a similar way to the French.  The proportions are simple: one part of vinegar or lemon to 4 of oil for a milder dressing, or one part of vinegar or lemon to 3 parts of oil (and some salt) if you like tart flavors. Most Italians don’t actually measure, but you should calculate about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons oil per person, or just 1 if you are on a diet. Skipping oil altogether and going … [Read More...]

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Lemon and Lavander Tart

"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town" (Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses). One of my first olfactory memories features a lemon lavender crostata, baked by my grandmother on a summer afternoon about four decades ago. When we think of lavender fields, most of us conjure up images of Provence: maybe because they were often depicted by French impressionists. However, this plant (a member of the same family of savory herbs which also includes sage, thyme, and oregano) is cultivated all over the world, from England to Brazil, from Russia to Japan and new Zealand - and of course, Italy. My grandmother lived in Pistoia, a town about 30 minutes North-West of Florence and just over one hour drive from the Chianti region, … [Read More...]

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Salad

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Salad

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:56] … [Read More...]

Edible Mosaic with Yogurt Sauces

Edible Mosaic with Yogurt Sauces

Growing up in Venice, I was always fascinated with glass mosaic – an ancient art that can create, through the careful rhythm of colored enamels and gold leaf, a magical world where time seems to stand still. Why not experiment with summer fruit? Your kids will love this project! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:103] … [Read More...]

4103 TRIGLIE ALLA MOSAICA

Shabbat Meals: Red Mullet Livornese-Style

... and the Cosmopolitan Cooking of the Jews of Livorno. This article and recipe appeared in The Jewish Forward. Click here to view it. … [Read More...]

Mount Sinai with Threaded Eggs (Dairy)

Mount Sinai with Threaded Eggs

For years, I had been intrigued by this curious cake from Livorno (Leghorn), a dessert that features sweet egg threads on top – a sign that it was introduced by the egg-loving Portuguese Jews and marranos who were invited to settle in the city by the Grand-Duke of Tuscany in the sixteenth century. With the help of the Jewish merchants, Leghorn became one of the most important port cities in Europe (but also a center of the printing press), and became known as “the city with no ghetto”. I was already familiar with the local cuisine, and decided to try my hand at this tart, which looked like no other. Unfortunately, the yolk threads proved to be a huge challenge: I didn’t seem to be able to control the flow through the colander (the tool of choice in all the books that listed the recipe).  My Livornese friends couldn’t help either: apparently they had always encountered the same problem and ended up with a sticky blob or with burns… they said that they used to buy the cake for Shavuot … [Read More...]

Crostata di Visciole (Sour Cherry Tart) (Dairy)

Crostata di Visciole (Sour Cherry Tart)

The ancient Jewish community of Rome maintains many traditions that will never fade. One of its highlights is this double-crusted tart, stuffed with ricotta cheese and sour cherry jam. If you visit Rome, try it at Boccione’s, the famous kosher bakery in the ghetto! Theirs is made with really fresh sheep milk ricotta, and it's worth putting up with the long lines.... [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:33]   … [Read More...]

Rice Cake with Pine Nuts and Rose Water

Rice Cake with Pine Nuts and Rose Water

The milk and honey are a reference to the divine love described in the Song of Songs; the rose water is linked to the tradition of Shavuot as the Feast of Roses; finally, the rice symbolizes the marriage between God and His people. Can you find a more symbolic dish than this lovely cake of clear Sephardic origins? [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:32] … [Read More...]

Rotolo di Spinaci e Ricotta

Rotolo di Spinaci e Ricotta

Shavuot commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and Jewish communities around the world have developed special culinary customs to give due honor to the holiday. Meals are characterized by dairy dishes, as the Bible itself compares the Torah to milk and honey ("honey and milk shall be under your tongue" (Song of Songs 4:11). Some commentators add that, before the revelation at Sinai, the Jews were allowed to eat meat that was slaughtered normally, but after the Torah was given on Shavuot, they became obligated to follow the rules of kasherut . Until the end of that first festival,  they had no alternative but to indulge in dairy foods! Mystics also like to mention that  the numerical equivalent of halav ( Hebrew for milk) is forty - the number of days Moses waited on Mount Sinai. Another tradition is eating foods that are rolled, to remind us of the shape of the Torah scrolls that are read in synagogue. Among Ashkenazi jews, the most popular Shavuot food … [Read More...]

“Masconod” / Sweet Cheese Rolls (Dairy)

“Masconod” – Sweet Cheese Rolls

One of the most traditional Italian pasta dishes for Shavuot has ancient roots and a mysterious name: “Masconod”. The original recipe features parmigiano mixed with sugar and cinnamon (the same unusual combination used to dress gnocchi in some areas of North-Eastern Italy), although the less adventurous palates replace the sugar and cinnamon with black pepper. The pasta is rolled-up manicotti-style, but tighter, like Moroccan cigars: since Shavuot commemorates God’s giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, it’s customary to eat some “rolled” foods, resembling Torah scrolls. This is also true of Simchat Torah (which marks the conclusion of the annual Torah reading cycle and the beginning of the next), but the rolls of Shavuot are usually filled with cream or cheese, since “Like honey and milk [the Torah] lies under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11)…. While Masconod is traditionally made with fresh lasagna sheets, this  year I’ve tried it with crespelle (Italian crepes) and it was love at … [Read More...]

Delicate Salad

Delicate Salad

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:57] … [Read More...]

Gnocchi alla Romana (Dairy)

Gnocchi alla Romana

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:29] … [Read More...]

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Red and Green Lettuce Salad

A super-fresh and delicate salad to celebrate the arrival of spring! When using edible flowers in your food, make sure they are not treated with dangerous chemicals. The best are the ones from your own garden! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:53] … [Read More...]

Ezekiel's Olive Chicken

Ezekiel’s Olive Chicken

What's with chicken and prophets? Several Jewish Italian recipes for poultry have Biblical names. Here is one of the most popular examples, which appears in different variations in most cooking books on the topic, from Vitali Norsa, to Servi-Machlin to Joyce Goldstein. It's not a surprise, because chicken cooked with this technique stays moist and juicy and keeps well for Shabbat! It's a variation on the basic "pollo in umido", which Americans call "chicken cacciatore". The classic recipe is made with a cut-up whole chicken, but if you are in a rush or if you prefer boneless meat, boneless thighs also work well. When I cook boneless meat, I always add the bones to the pot (wrapped in a cloth) and discard them at the end. The bones add tremendous depth to the flavor. You can also add a couple of (koshered) chicken livers. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:105] … [Read More...]

Roman Lamb Roast (Meat)

Roman Lamb Roast

The Jewish community of Rome dates back to the second century BCE. Its history is known from several Latin and Greek sources, the Talmud, and inscriptions found in the catacombs. “Rabbinical” Judaism, whose core thoughts are collected in the Babylonian Talmud, originated towards the end of the first century CE, after the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. Its center was the academy of Yavneh, which in theory was also in charge of the Jews in the Diaspora. We know from the Talmud that at the beginning of the 2nd century CE, a certain Rabbi Matthias was sent from Yavneh to Rome. However, the Romans did not always accept his authority: the Talmud reports that the leader of the Roman community, Theudas, refused Yavneh’s instructions to modify the way the Passover lamb was butchered.  We gather from these passages that in Judaea the ritual must have been changed after the destruction of the Temple. In most communities around the world, the custom of eating lamb at the seder was eventually … [Read More...]

Tartara di Pesce (Raw Fish Tartare)

Tartara di Pesce (Raw Fish Tartare)

My husband lived in Japan for one year and is obsessed with sushi. When we got married, I  introduced him to Italian raw fish dishes such as crudo, carpaccio and tartara. Many cultures like to serve the freshest fish raw, and it’s very quick and easy to prepare – but it’s vital to use only the best, sushi-grade fish, purchased from a fish monger you trust. As an extra precaution you can also freeze your fish for 1 hour before you use it. Salmon, in particular, is very susceptible to parasites. This is a simple recipe, but it requires (besides very fresh fish!) very good olive oil and organic lemon and lime. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:51] … [Read More...]

Tortino d’Azzima (Matzo Pie) (Meat or Parve)

Tortino d’Azzima – Matzo Pie

This recipe was my contribution to my friend Tori's Passover Potluck project 2012. Check out the more detailed intro and my step-by-step pictures on her blog, here (you will also love all her yummy recipes!). [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:26] … [Read More...]

Fennel Soup (Parve)

Fennel Soup

We all overeat every once in a while, and end up feeling bloated or with a stomach ache: what a Jewish Italian mother would prescribe in such cases (backed up by Maimonides’ medical treatises) is a nice bowl of fennel soup. Fennel (Anise) is one of those ingredients that until the late 1800s were shunned by non-Jews in Italy and considered lowly and vulgar. By the time this delicious vegetable was accepted into general Italian cuisine,  Jews had already discovered countless ways to prepare it, raw or cooked, as an appetizer or side. Fennel soup is to indigestion what chicken soup is to a cold, and it’s also said to help with bloating, detoxify the liver and even increase lactation. Just as your Bubbe did with the chicken,  we use all parts of the fennel: we eat the bulbs, we make tea with the leaves, and we use the seeds as a spice. Curious fact: fennel seeds have such a powerful digestive effect that in (non-kosher) Italian cooking they are often used to enhance the least … [Read More...]

Easy Passover Soup with Frittata (“Dadini in Brodo”) – (meat)

Easy Passover Soup with Frittata (“Dadini in Brodo”)

A great matzah-free option if the first Seder has left you feeling stuffed like a Passover turkey and you need a break! You can also serve this at the seder as an alternative to your matzah balls for gluten-intolerant guests. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:25] … [Read More...]

Pistachio Amaretto Crostata with Chocolate and Mixed Berries (Parve, GF)

Pistachio Amaretto Crostata with Chocolate and Berries

If you like macaroons, this indulgent and festive tart will become your favorite way to welcome Passover. If you are celiac and need to follow a gluten-free diet, you have a great excuse to make it much more often! Remember that nuts are very sticky, and it's always best to line your baking pan with parchment. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:28] … [Read More...]

Malachi's Chicken

Malachi’s Chicken

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:104] … [Read More...]

Sweet Almond Liqueur (Parve)

Sweet Almond Liqueur

There is a rabbinic commandment stating that on Purim, one should drink until they can’t tell the difference between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordecai. Instead of gobbling down glasses and glasses of wine, you can get a bit tipsy more efficiently with sweet Italian liqueurs, which also happen to pair really well with all the cookies and confectionery we end up inhaling on this gluttonous holiday. My paternal grandmother was a pro at making these, with lemons or rose petals, chocolate or coffee, and she called them “liquori da signorine” (“young ladies’  liqueurs”) as they were very sweet, which always cracked my dad up because they are actually as strong as a good scotch. Here is my favorite: [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:21] … [Read More...]

Almond Paste Bon Bons (Parve)

Montini and Palline Purim Bon-Bons

According to the detailed descriptions in many Italian Purim songs from the 16th and 17th centuries, Purim at the time was quite a production! In particular, the wealthier Jews hosted over-the-top banquets, which included up to 30 courses, alternating savory and sweet dishes. But the highlight was always the desserts! Among the prettiest Purim sweets, perfect for gifting, are these almond paste-based confections popular in several cities, including Venice and Trieste. Almond paste was introduced to Northern and Central Italy by the Sephardic Jews fleeing from Spain, Portugal and Sicily, where they had a long tradition of making elaborate confections with it. These scrumptious sweets are easy to make as they don’t require cooking, and can be served in mini paper cups or wrapped individually like candy, which makes them great gifts. On Purim we are required to give charity to the poor, and food gifts (משלוח מנות‎, pronounced Mishloach Manot") to friends and relatives, consisting … [Read More...]

Orecchie di Amman (Hamman’s Ears)(Dairy or Parve)

Orecchie di Amman (Hamman’s Ears)

Read my article in The Forward about the history of Purim among Italian Jews (click here). [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:19] … [Read More...]

Swiss Chard Ravioli (Dairy or Meat)

Swiss Chard Ravioli

Concealed identities and hidden truths are the markers of the Jewish holiday of Purim, both in its exterior celebrations (the costumes) and in its deeper meaning.  Much like a Shakespearean Comedy of Errors, on the surface the Megillat Ester is deceivingly simple and seemingly random in its sequence of events. The protagonists are assimilated, “comfortable” Jews living in a foreign land (Persia), afraid to reveal their identity, and it is the only book in the Tanakh (Bible) that makes no reference to God. Purim is the plural of the Persian term Pur (lots),those lots that Haman had cast to determine the fate of the Jews – as if to imply that our fate is a game of chance. On the other hand, this story seemed so relevant to our sages that it was included in the Biblical Canon, while the heroism and miracle of Hanukkah were left out. One of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages, Rambam (Maimonides) even maintains in his Code of Jewish Law that in the Messianic Age “All the books … [Read More...]

“Orzotto” with Vegetables – Barley “Risotto” (Parve or Dairy)

“Orzotto” with Vegetables – Barley “Risotto”

I just gave a demo on healthful and elegant Italian cuisine at the JCC Manhattan during their Fitness for EveryBODY Fair. One of the ingredients I presented was barley, a grain with many beneficial properties. Unlike wheat, it contains a high amount of soluble fibers (betaglucans), which have a positive effect on cholesterol and provide an immediate sense of satiety, which will be appreciated by those of you who are trying to keep their weight in check. It also contains many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and has been shown to help liver and kidney function. What’s not to like? This way of cooking barley, with the same technique that Italians apply to rice in risottos, is typical of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the North-East, and I learned it during my year in Trieste. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:60] … [Read More...]

Buricche

Buricche

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:86] … [Read More...]

Pappa col Pomodoro (Tuscan Bread & Tomato Soup) (Parve)

Pappa col Pomodoro – Tuscan Bread & Tomato Soup

We just came back from ten days in Italy, mostly spent in Venice hanging out with my mom and childhood friends. But my husband and kids had never been to Florence, and I decided to treat them to a couple of days in the cradle of the Italian Renaissance. The highlight of our stay was a lunch at our friends Alberto and Giordana’s apartment, with a breathtaking view of Fiesole and the Tuscan hills; followed by rides on the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica for our two kids! The food in Florence and in all of Tuscany is fantastic, simple and elegant, and justly famous. If you are not planning a trip any time soon, why not try this easy and delicious soup in your own kitchen? Pappa col Pomodoro is a perfect example of Italian “comfort food”, and of Tuscan peasant cooking. Bread soups were born of necessity: people could not afford to throw away stale bread, and devised ways to make it not only edible, but wonderfully tasty. Be warned that American-style soft sliced bread would just turn … [Read More...]

Kamut Soup with Pumpkin and Saffron (Parve)

Kamut Soup with Pumpkin and Saffron

Have you ever tried KAMUT? It’s a long grain with a brown cover – it looks similar to brown rice, but it’s related to wheat and has a velvety, nutty flavor. It’s richer in protein than wheat, and contains several vitamins and minerals. Perfect for a winter soup! The other main ingredient of this “minestra” is saffron, the star ingredient in Italy’s favorite risotto Milanese, and in many festive Sephardic dishes. Saffron, one of the most highly prized spices since antiquity, and a native of the Southern Mediterranean, is now cultivated in many countries. However, some the best in the world is said to be produced in the Abruzzi region of Italy, a couple of hours east of Rome - a legend says that it was first smuggled here by a dominican monk in the 13th century, and the production has been thriving ever since. In order to maintain the intense aroma of their saffron, the locals uproot the bulbs yearly, and select them for size. The perfect soil and climate conditions do the rest, and … [Read More...]

Jota – Saurkraut, Potato and Bean Soup (Parve or Meat)

Jota – Saurkraut, Potato and Bean Soup

I know that most people might not immediately associate sauerkraut with Italy – but that’s only because they have never been to the North-Eastern regions! For example, sauerkrauts are actually the main ingredient in Trieste’s signature soup, the Jota (pronounced yota, from the Latin term for soup). Trieste is the largest Italian port city on the Adriatic and was for a long time the trade crossroads between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Western Europe. It also boasts a rich and fascinating Jewish history. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Jews fleeing from German lands settled here to make a living as moneylenders, bankers, and merchants. Even women practiced money-lending in Trieste, an unusual custom at the time. More Jews arrived in the following centuries from Spain and the Ottoman Empire, and finally in the late 18th century from Corfu. Trieste in general, and Jewish Trieste in particular, was cosmopolitan and cultured, and the local dishes give us a little taste of such flair . … [Read More...]

Smoked Fish and Grapefruit Salad (Parve or Dairy)

Smoked Fish and Grapefruit Salad

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:54] … [Read More...]

Fragrant Stew with Wine and Herbs

Fragrant Stew with Wine and Herbs

My husband and I are almost vegetarian, meaning that we tend to forget about meat and to serve it only when we have guests who expect it. But a few of you have been asking for a winter-appropriate meat dish, and here you go! You are going to love this slow-cooked recipe, because it’s very simple and yet elegant. Perfect for a date! As always with Italian cuisine, don't skimp on the ingredients. Use a wine that you would actually enjoy drinking - it will cost more, but it's totally worth it! Just think of this as a special occasion dish. Wines that work well are dry and with a lot of body: Barolo, Chianti, Super-Tuscans, Bordeaux, etc. The meat should be cut into approx. 1" cubes. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:107] … [Read More...]

Why Kosher Italian Food ?

Because it's true home cooking and not elaborate chef-inspired Fusion cuisine. Because Jews have been in Italy since the second century B.C.E. and have had two thousand years to develop mouth-watering recipes using a variety of delicious local ingredients, now easy to find in our grocery stores. Because it's healthy, simply elegant and colorful. Because with so many vegetables and healthy fats, you may even lose a couple of pounds. (And if you don't, at least you will have fun trying!) … [Read More...]

Cassola by DinnerInvenice

Cassola, the Ecumenical Pancake

I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. I had been frying for a couple of weeks already and all my Hanukkah posts were already up. Yet something just felt wrong. OPS. I suddenly realized that I hadn't posted anything special for all my readers and friends who are not Jewish and celebrate Christmas. I felt so awful, that I toyed with the idea of attempting a Panettone, the famous Italian Christmas Cake! However, Panettone is really difficult to make, requiring several phases of exceptionally long rising, and the use of special Italian bread flours that are hard to find. Here is something much quicker, and just as decadent: it's an ancient Jewish Roman dessert, kind of a cheese pancake, shockingly simple to make, which the Roman Catholic community somehow adopted as the dessert of choice to end their Christmas dinner with (maybe after one too many panettone flops)?  . The Jews of Rome still make it for Shavuot, but of course it would also work for Hanukkah (after all, according … [Read More...]

5707186

Mashed Potato Latkes with Fresh Herb Medley

  Whenever a survey is done on the topic of comfort food in America, mashed potatoes beat out a variety of favorites, including meatloaf and cinnamon rolls. And among Jews, latkes seem to hold a special place in everybody’s heart (and stomach), conjuring up fond memories from childhood. What would happen, then… if we made latkes from mashed potatoes? Something so cozy and delicious that you’ll wish you could celebrate Hanukkah all year long! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:4] … [Read More...]

Meatballs, Jewish-Italian Style

Meatballs, Jewish-Italian Style

We have many versions of meatballs. You can use leftover cooked meat instead of raw meat for an even tastier version! Leftover roast beef or brisket are great! You can add 4 tablespoons of very finely chopped olives for a different flavor. You can add leftover cooked spinach, drained well and chopped (in this case decrease the amount of the bread/broth mixture). You can add plumped currants and pine nuts, and end the cooking with some lemon juice, for a sweet-and-sour Sephardic touch. Also try substituting mashed potatoes for the bread/broth mixture. Try them all! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:106] … [Read More...]

Venetian Rice with Raisins (“Risi e Ua”)

Venetian Rice with Raisins (“Risi e Ua”)

It was probably Sephardic Jews who transmitted to the rest of the Venetian population their passion for rice, after their arrival in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Venetians are still famous for creamy risottos (we call them “all’onda“, with a wave), to which we add pretty much anything, from chicken livers to fish to… stinging nettles. The usual preparation for risotto, adding hot broth a little at a time, releases so much starch that the rice must be eaten right away or it will clump. The pilaf version, besides reminding us of the Sephardic origins of this dish, can be prepared in advance and reheated for Shabbat. “Risi e Ua” (Rice and Grapes, or Raisins) is THE festive rice dish par excellence among the Jews of Venice, and – like most Jewish venetian recipes – it has also been enjoyed by the general population for a very long time. It’s also great for Hanukkah, in case your stomach cannot survive an all-fried menu and you want to start with something a little more … [Read More...]

Hanukkah Treats with Sambuca and Honey

Hanukkah Treats with Sambuca and Honey

The festival of Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem, which had been looted and desecrated by the soldiers of Syrian-Greek King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the second century BCE. Mattityahu, a Jewish priest, and his five sons, led a successful rebellion against Antiochus, which resulted in the rededication of the Temple by Mattityahu’s son, Yehudah the Maccabee, in 166 BCE. The Talmud reports that the menorah in the Temple was required to burn every night, but there was only enough oil for one night left: however, the menorah burned for eight days on that little oil, giving the Jews enough time to procure more. The oil used for lighting the menorah was pure, extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, which may explain why Hanukkah resonates so deeply with Italian Jews, inspiring them to create a deluge of mouthwatering recipes  While the miracle of the oil is described in the Talmud, the Book of Maccabees makes no mention of it, stating only that an eight day … [Read More...]

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:7] … [Read More...]

Sfenz- Libyan Hanukkah Fritters (Parve)

Sfenz – Libyan Hanukkah Fritters

Jewish Italian food has been a tradition for over 2000 years – but it still continues to evolve, even in recent times. The Jewish exodus from Libya in the late 1960es brought about 5000 Libyan Jews to Rome, and their earthy dishes  are yet another extraordinary influence on our culinary kaleidoscope. I reached out to my friends at Labna, one of my favorite Italian food blogs, and Jasmine shared these yummy pancakes, a traditional recipe from the Libyan side of her family. Jasmine tells us that in her grandparents’ house the kitchen was usually her grandmother’s realm -she was always the one cooking, and her grandfather only walked in there to obtain coffee. But every year on Hanukkah, Jasmine’s grandfather would wake up early, brave the kitchen and prepare the Sfenz, the traditional water-flour pancakes, like they used to make in Tripoli: a few minutes of easy kneading, a couple of hours of rest, and a dive into the hot oil…. for a most irresistible breakfast. Enjoy Labna‘s special … [Read More...]

Venetian Fritters (Parve)

Venetian Fritters

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:9] … [Read More...]

Holy Pumpkin Fritters (Parve)

Holy Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin arrived in Italy after the discovery of the Americas, and Northern Italian Jews liked it so much that in Venice we called it “suca baruca” (holy pumpkin, from the Hebrew “baruch”). When pumpkin made its appearance, Venice in general -and Jewish Venice in particular – was a crossroad of peoples and cultures, in which countless examples of what we would now call “Fusion” cuisine came to life. These fritters, which include spices and candied fruit, are a great example! I also contributed this recipe for a guest post on my friends’ lovely Italian blog Labna, which you should check out (especially if you read Italian!)…. and stay tuned for Labna’s own awesome guest post here, coming tomorrow!!!!! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:12] … [Read More...]

Apple Fritters with Moscato Wine (Parve)

Apple Fritters with Moscato Wine

Contrary to popular belief, Italian Jews do not all descend from the Jews who arrived in Rome in the second century b.c.e., and from the Sephardim fleeing Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century. There have also been Ashkenazi Jews living in Northern Italy since as early as the Middle Ages. In Venice, in particular, Ashkenazim (“I Tedeschi”, as they were called)  were the oldest Jewish community in the city. The name of the first Jewish quarter in Venice (and in the world), “ghetto”, possibly derives from the Germanic term “gitter” (iron grill).  Even Moshe Chayim Luzzatto (the Ramchal), one of the most famous Italian rabbis in history, was a “Yekkishe Yid”!   (the name Luzzatto is the Italian translation of the German Jewish name Lausitz). A lot of recipes reflect this ancient Ashkenazi influence, and one of my favorite examples is the apple fritters that we make for Hanukkah.  One of the reasons I like them so much has nothing to do with history: since in Italy we also have … [Read More...]

Veal Strips in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Veal Strips in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce with Grapes

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:8] … [Read More...]

Zaleti- Yellow Venetian Cookies (Dairy or Parve)

Zaleti -Yellow Venetian Cookies

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:16] … [Read More...]

Potato and Mushroom Timballo (Dairy)

Potato and Mushroom Timballo

Welcome the cold season with a warming, decadent dish that elevates a simple food like potatoes to new culinary heights! Potatoes were introduced to Italy only at the end of the 16th century by the Spanish, who encountered them in the Americas: the Italian climate was perfect for their cultivation, and they quickly became a star ingredient (who doesn’t love Gnocchi?). Potatoes and mushrooms are a classic pairing, and one of the reasons why I love fall  [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:15] … [Read More...]

Ricotta and Pumpkin Sformatini (Dairy)

Ricotta and Pumpkin Sformatini

The verb “sformare” in Italian means “to turn out, to remove from the mold”. A Sformato is a kind of savory custard that is thick enough to retain its shape when turned out on a platter, thus making a crust unnecessary. Traditional Sformati are made with béchamel sauce (read: lots of butter!), but you can obtain similar results without wracking your diet if you use ricotta. As filling and creamy as a quiche, at a fraction of the calories, this is basically a savory variant of the Jewish Roman Cassola which I posted in December (I also wrote about it in The Forward) . Ricotta is not technically a cheese, but a by-product of cheese-making: that’s why whole milk ricotta is naturally very low-fat, containing only 5% fat (as opposed to 90% in cream cheese!): no need to go with the low-fat or fat-free varieties, which contain additives and taste bad. Pumpkin is also very interesting from a nutritional point of view, because it’s filling and sweet but very low in calories and sugar, and … [Read More...]

Chestnut and Spelt Soup (Parve)

Chestnut and Spelt Soup

After last Saturday’s early snowfall, it’s time to put our summer clothes in storage and welcome the cold season (at least in New York)!  Don’t be sad – there are plenty of fun things about fall and winter. One example: hearty soups like this one, which incorporates two  ingredients with a distinguished history, staple foods for thousands of years in some areas of Europe. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:65] … [Read More...]

Baked Apple with Hazelnuts, Honey and Yogurt (Dairy)

Baked Apple with Hazelnuts, Honey and Yogurt

Before the advent of industrial baking products, many of the treats that our grandmothers served during the week included fruit. Compotes and baked fruit are a delicious way to indulge our sweet tooth without overdoing the sugar and the calories, and actually adding nutrients to our diet. Baked fruit, in particular, is easy to make and very comforting in the frosty fall and winter days.  [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:64] … [Read More...]

Dolce di Pane e Mele (Bread and Apple Cake) (Dairy)

Dolce di Pane e Mele (Bread and Apple Cake)

Today, October 24, is Food Day! Americans from all walks of life push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. One of the huge problems we are dealing with is that Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption, while the number of people without enough to eat continues to rise. A very important Jewish concept, especially relevant today, is Bal Tashchit (do not destroy or waste). Originally, Bal Tashchit refers to the biblical prohibition against the destruction of fruit trees during wartime (Deuteronomy 12:19), but the rabbis of the Talmud extended the concept to the prohibition of destroying and wasting anything needlessly. Really! Nowadays we should apply this idea to all kinds of waste (do we really need to drive, when we can walk or take the bus?). And of course, let’s start with food. Don’t leave your bread in plastic bags: chances are, it will be covered in green mold before you are done with it. If you keep it in a … [Read More...]

Tilapia Roll-Ups

Tilapia Roll-Ups

Often we forget to eat healthy foods just because we are so busy. On top of that, fish can be quite intimidating to people who have never learned how to cook it. This recipe, however, is easy to prepare, looks very pretty, and it tastes great. Tilapia and sole are light, flaky, white-fleshed fish - a perfect low-calorie source of lean protein for those of you who are watching their waistlines or at risk of cardiovascular disease. The extra burst of flavor comes from anchovies, herrings' "little cousins": just like their larger relatives they are chock-full of nutrients (for example, they are a rich source of protein, niacin, calcium, selenium, and an extremely high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids), and one of the most beloved ingredients in Italian cuisine. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:72] … [Read More...]

Fall salad with Grapes and Apples GF

Fall salad with Grapes and Apples

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:55] … [Read More...]

Tukey or Veal Roast with a Surprise (Meat)

Turkey or Veal Roast with a Surprise

On the holidays, I usually serve dairy at lunch and meat for dinner. This colorful “roast”, which is actually cooked on the stove, usually “wows” guests. It’s much easier than it looks!  If you prefer, instead of the boiled eggs you can use a thin frittata made with eggs and chopped parsley or spinach. It’s filling, so I would serve it after a vegetable soup or a light broth-based pasta soup. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:50] … [Read More...]

Etrog or Lemon Risotto (Dairy)

Etrog or Lemon Risotto

The Etrog, one of the symbols of Sukkot, is a special fruit, which looks like a giant lemon and grows on very delicate trees, in warm climates. Some Hassidim actually prefer the Etrogs from Italy (from the region of Calabria), probably because of a tradition that says that Moses used one from there.  After Sukkot, a lot of us like to use them to make jelly or other specialties. In the movie Ushpizin the protagonists use its juice to dress a salad, but here is another fun idea (and you can make this recipe any time using regular lemons): [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:48] … [Read More...]

Fish with Pine Nuts and Raisins (Parve)

Fish with Pine Nuts and Raisins

This simple and easy  fish dish is served in many Italian cities during the meal that follows the Yom Kippur fast. Raisins and pine nuts appear in  many Jewish Italian dishes of Sephardic origins, and offer a lovely contrast to the vinegar. For this recipe, Roman Jews use red mullet, but I’ve tried it with other types of white fish and it still works. You could substitute a branzino, orata, striped bass, grouper, snapper, and so forth. Just don’t use a fish that’s too fatty like sea bass or soft like sole and tilapia. (And don’t even think of salmon  ) [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:44] … [Read More...]

Sukkot

What is Sukkot?

Sukkot is an eight-day harvest holiday that starts four days after the fast of Yom Kippur; it is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. In ancient Israel Jews would build huts (Sukkah = hut) near the end of their fields during the harvest season, so that they could spend more time in the fields and harvest more efficiently. But Sukkot is also a reminder of how our ancestors  lived while wandering in the desert for 40 years (Leviticus 23:42-43), moving from one place to another and using tents or (sukkot) for temporary shelter. Associated with these two meanings are the three  Sukkot traditions: 1 – Building a sukkah. 2 – Eating inside the sukkah. 3 – Waving the lulav and etrog. (in the picture, the holiday of Sukkot as seen by Italian artist Emanuele Luzzatti) Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot , observant Jews construct a sukkah in their backyards or on their deck when possible (in absence of space, people will use their synagogue’s sukkah). In ancient times most people … [Read More...]

Roasted Fish with Fennel

Roasted Fish with Fennel

Another very common symbol on the Rosh HaShana table is the head of a fish, with the prayer “that we be a head and not a tail”.  We don’t actually eat the head (yikes), just present it as a symbol; but we do eat the rest of the fish and here is a great easy recipe. If you didn’t use fennel for the previous symbol, Roviah, but green beans or beans, try adding it to the fish instead – it’s a delicious combination! Some people do not like using lemon on Rosh HaShana (in the spirit of eating only things that are sweet, and not sour): if that’s your case, add only the peel/zest, without the pulp. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:39]   … [Read More...]

Tagliatelle with Pumpkin and Lentils

Tagliatelle with Pumpkin and Lentils

For Rosh HaShana I usually serve a fresh pasta soup in chicken broth before the main course: it’s easy to make (make or buy pasta; make chicken stock; cook the pasta and serve with the broth). But I wanted to offer something different for those of you who do not have a seder before the meal, and prefer a more filling first course. As a bonus, this pasta recipe includes pumpkin, one of the holiday symbols in some Italian Jewish communities, including Venice (see my post on “Zucca Barucca” above). [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:40] … [Read More...]

Stuffed Goose Neck

Stuffed Goose Neck for Rosh HaShana

Kosher goose is nowadays only available in the US and in Italy through a few select butchers, or only at certain times of the year. But just a few centuries ago, starting in the Middle Ages and continuing through the Renaissance, goose had become the main source of meat for most Jewish communities in Western Europe, from German-speaking countries to the Italian peninsula. Goose was to the Jews what pork was to Christians: where the Gentiles used lard, the Jews cooked with goose fat; the meat was eaten roasted and stuffed or used to prepare sausages, salamis and kosher “prosciutto“.  It was the “Kosher Pig”!  Several versions of this dish are still a popular Rosh HaShana main course in different Italian cities, of course only those years when we can get our hands on a goose.  (A widespread variation is a turkey meatloaf enclosed in the turkey skin, which I will add later.) On a personal note,  while I’m obsessed with this recipe, I am not going to serve it for Rosh HaShana this … [Read More...]

Zucca Barucca (“Holy” Pumpkin or Butternut Squash) (Parve)

Zucca Barucca (“Holy” Pumpkin or Butternut Squash)

Pumpkin or Butternut Squash is an important part of our Rosh haShana Seder. While the symbolic foods of the Pesach Seder are meant to internalize the memory of Passover, the symbols of Rosh haShana point to the future to wish us a good New Year. The Aramaic term for squash/pumpkin is  ’Kerah“. Because of its resemblance to the Aramaic root “Kara” (to cut), when we eat this vegetable we pray that any of our bad deeds will be cut out of the Book of G-d’s Judgement. Pumpkin arrived in Italy after the discovery of the Americas, and was such a hit with Northern Italian Jews that in Venice we call it “Zucca Barucca” (Holy Pumpkin – from the Hebrew “Baruch“).  Different communities and different families prepare it in different ways, but here are a sweet-and-sour version, plus my favorite (but not very photogenic) Venetian version, mashed. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:38] … [Read More...]

Pomegranate Chicken

Pomegranate Chicken

This roasted chicken is a perfect main course for Rosh HaShana, since the Pomegranate (Rimon) is the sixth of the symbols on our holiday table,  eaten with the prayer ”May our merits/good deeds be as numerous as the seeds in a pomegranate”. Apparently the Sages took the time to count the seeds in a lot of pomegranates, and decided that they average 613, the number of Mitzvot Jews are bound to observe – which is also why silverRimmonim (pomegranates) are used to decorate Torah scrolls. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:42] … [Read More...]

Leek Frittata

Leek Frittata

One of the most popular ways to serve this Siman (Symbol) in our Rosh HaShana Seder: inside an earthy frittata (with or without the addition of spinach). Frittatas can be prepared in advance. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:37]   … [Read More...]

Vegetable Saute with Pistachios

Vegetable Saute with Pistachios

A quick and delicious way to add some vegetables to your diet. Pistachios were first brought to the Roman Empire from Syria during the reign of Tiberius. Through history, they were considered a refined delicacy worthy of kings and queens (the Queen of Sheba is said to have been a fan!).   I also love the delicate flavor added by celery. It was not until the Middle Ages that celery's use started expanding beyond medicine and into food. Always choose celery that looks crisp and snaps easily, with leaves that are free from yellow or brown patches. Sometimes Also separate the stalks and look for brown or black discoloration, a sign of a condition called "blackheart" that is caused by insects (yikes). If you are storing cut or peeled celery, make sure it's dry, as water can drain some of its many nutrients. The optional touch of soy sauce was inspired by my friend Allaya Fleischer, Kosher Asian chef and writer for Bitayavon magazine. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:99]     … [Read More...]

Buricche di Bietole (Chard Burekas) (Parve)

Buricche di Bietole (Chard Burekas)

Another Symbol in my Rosh HaShana Seder is Swiss chard. We identify Swiss Chards (or, in Venice, just their ribs) with the Aramaic term “silka” (other communities use beets). A similar Hebrew word, siluk, means “removal”: therefore, when eating Swiss chards (or beets)  we pray that our enemies will be removed. In Venice we often present only the white ribs of the chards, parboiled until soft and then drained and stewed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for at least 30 minutes.  But if you have time to make Buricche, your guests will ask for seconds! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:36] … [Read More...]

Pasta with Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Sauce (Dairy)

Pasta with Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes when I really need to force some vegetables into my kids! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:77] … [Read More...]

Oven-Baked Turkey Meatballs

Oven-Baked Turkey Meatballs

Meatballs and meatloaves are a staple in Jewish Italian kitchens: I would go as far as to say  that every family has a different version (and every son swears that his mother’s is the best!). For many centuries most Jews in Italy were poor, and had only sporadic access to meat: one of the ways they found to make use of cheaper cuts was grinding the meat and stretching it with different ingredients – bread, eggs, and countless vegetables. The result included not only delicious meatloaves and meatballs, but also a variety of stuffed vegetables and pasta. These dishes are great for Shabbat and the holidays when food needs to be prepared in advance and reheated, because they don’t harden and actually taste better the day after. If you choose one of the versions that incorporate cooked, chopped vegetables (spinach, leeks, zucchini, eggplant… the options are endless!) you might also be able to sneak some greens into the diets of the most irreducible picky … [Read More...]

Pumpkin Stew

Venetian Pumpkin Stew

Pumpkin seeds started arriving from the Americas in the 16th century, probably brought by the Conversos that had settled in the New World. Since the official start of the Spanish Inquisition was in 1492, the same year that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, it's not surprising that many Jews and Conversos would see this as an opportunity to leave Spain! In Northern Italy pumpkins grew particularly well, and local Jews were among the first to add them to their dishes, usually with impressive results. I have already given you some of my favorite recipes for sweet-and sour or mashed pumpkin, and pumpkin fritters, and more.... but here is a stew that will warm up your winter days or nights. While Italians can be kind of clueless about how to grill a steak (with the exception of Tuscans), we have a long tradition of stewing and braising meat, which culminates in our special-occasion dish, brasato, slowly braised beef, veal or lamb. This particular recipe can also be made as … [Read More...]

CAPONATA - SICILIA

Caponata

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:112] … [Read More...]

Finocchi Gratinati (Baked Fennel)

Finocchi Gratinati (Baked Fennel)

Fennel (Anise) is one of those vegetables which until the late 1800s were avoided by non-Jews in Italy and considered lowly and vulgar. By the time this delicious vegetable was accepted into general Italian cuisine,  Jews had already discovered countless ways to prepare it, raw or cooked, as an appetizer or side. Fennel is said to be a digestive and detoxifier. Besides eating the bulb, we use the seeds to flavor meats and sausages, and the fronds/leaves for tea and soups. Fennel tea is even said to increase milk production in nursing mothers! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:96] … [Read More...]

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

The combination of spinach and pine nuts appears in a variety of  festive Jewish Venetian dishes of Iberian and Turkish origins, from marinated fish to braised carrots, to meat stuffings for vegetables.  You can use the leftovers to make an unusual frittata. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:97] … [Read More...]

Jewish Voice Article

Kosher Gourmet Alessandra Rovati Launches www.DinnerInVenice.com

Self-taught kosher Italian cook, Alessandra Rovati has launched a new website, www.DinnerInVenice.com to celebrate colorful, healthy and kosher foods that talented and passionate Italians Jews have brought to their tables over the centuries. Best known for her healthy and delicious Italian recipes, Rovati highlights classic light dishes for summer on her site, such as steamed or grilled fish fillet served with a traditional "Salsa Verde" (green sauce), a tricolored green salad, oven-baked turkey loaf with vegetables, minestrone soup, light vegetable pasta sauces, and Macedonia, an Italian fruit salad. She also posts recipes on her Facebook page, “Kosher Italian Kitchen” which currently boasts over 1,000 fans. "People think that eating Italian cuisine is fattening because they associate Italian food with pasta dishes made with creamy sauces," said Rovati. "But that's just not true! Most Italians, especially women, eat a small dish of pasta with a fresh vegetable sauce, followed by fresh … [Read More...]

Halibut in Grape and Red Currant Sauce

Halibut in Grape and Red Currant Sauce

  Sweet and Sour is not an everyday combination in general Italian cuisine, but it's definitely a recurrent theme in Jewish Italian households. Besides the fact that it tastes quite interesting, there is a symbolic value to combining sweet with sour, bitter or salty: while rejoicing for our freedom we should also remember our exile. After all, even at our weddings we break a glass to symbolize how joy is always mixed with sadness! Several of our traditional dishes incorporate the "Agro" (sour) flavor, through the use of vinegar or lemon juice. This fish recipe blends the sweetness of the grapes with the mild sourness of the lemon and red currants, and the marked saltiness of the capers.  I like halibut because it's a sustainable fish, but other types of mild, flaky white fish will also work. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:71] … [Read More...]

How to make the Perfect Pasta

How to make the Perfect Pasta

My friends at CookKosher just posted my special tips on How to Cook the Perfect Pasta, including when you need to reheat it for Shabbat! Are you ready to start eating like a Real Italian? Click here! … [Read More...]

Cheese and Pepper Pasta (Dairy)

Cheese and Pepper Pasta

Pasta Cacio e Pepe  (Cheese and Pepper) is the perfect example of a minimal dish that packs maximum flavor. The only tricks are using really good ingredients (the cheese and the butter), and cooking the pasta perfectly al dente. Pair it with an arugola salad and you won't miss your Mac 'n Cheese!  [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:75] … [Read More...]

How Venetians Shop for Fish

  Many of us love eating fish in restaurants and are aware of its health benefits, but have no idea of how to cook it at home. Actually, the challenge is not so much cooking fish, as shopping for it! The key is finding a good, clean fish market or counter and getting to know the fishmonger, who will help you find the freshest fish available and will clean it for you if you can't stomach doing it yourself. LOOK HIM IN THE EYE! (the fish, not the fishmonger) A fresh fish should look alive! Its eyes should look clear and stick out, they should not be opaque and sunken. Its gills should be wet and bright red (if they are brown or grayish, your friend was frozen); the skin, flesh and fins should be firm and bouncy, and the scales shiny. It should smell like the ocean, but not TOO fishy. If you are buying fillets, be aware that brown edges or red streaks show age and should be avoided. You should always prefer a smaller fish over a larger one, because it will have more delicate … [Read More...]

Bean and Onion Salad

Bean and Onion Salad

Italian cuisine is one of the best for vegetarians. There are so many delicious options and all are simple to make. Meat used to be a rare treat for most people, and legumes the main source of protein. This salad is a staple in Tuscany, and while minimalistic in terms of work, it's very satisfying. However, never skip soaking the onion! This easy step removes the sting, sweetens the flavor - and allows you to still have a social life ;-) I have seen elaborate versions of this dish, with additions of cheese, pesto, hummus, the works. Trust me, and don't go there. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:98] … [Read More...]

Macedonia (Italian Fruit Salad)

Macedonia (Italian Fruit Salad)

I’m going to let you in on an Italian secret: while gelato is delicious, most of us don’t eat it every night! Our sweet treat after dinner is usually just fresh fruit, especially if the main courses are rich. When we have guests we often serve Macedonia, a simple salad made with a variety of fruit cut into small pieces, so that when you put a spoonful into your mouth you can taste a combination of different flavors.  Macedonia is dressed very simply with fresh sugar and lemon juice - or Prosecco if no children are present! This is just a sample recipe, but the possibilities are endless – just pick your favorite fruit! Make sure you sprinkle with fresh lemon juice right after slicing, or bananas and pears will oxidize quickly. I prefer not to use apples, because their texture is much crunchier than most other fruit. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:63] … [Read More...]

Spinach and Blueberry Salad

Spinach and Blueberry Salad

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:85] … [Read More...]

Tomato Sauce, and my Pet Peeves

Tomato Sauce, and My Pet Peeves

For a while I resisted the idea of writing about tomato sauce. In fact, as a typical Italian living in the US, I'm often annoyed when Italian cuisine is identified exclusively with tomato and cheese-laden dishes. But then the spring arrived, persuading me to break the ice, and to use this post as an opportunity to dispel some myths! Tomatoes first arrived in Italy for the first time during the 1500s. They were brought by the  the Spanish, who had encounterd them in the Americas. In particular, Jewish or conversos merchants of Spanish or Portuguese origins brought them to Livorno (Leighorn), and from there to the rest of Europe. However, at the beginning tomatoes were met with suspicion: after all, even in the Americas they were still considered poisonous, and enjoyed solely as a decorative plant. It's not clear how long it took for people to realize what they were missing on: all we know is that for a while these myths about the poison lingered, or were replaced by others about … [Read More...]

Tagliolini in Lemon Sauce

Tagliolini in Lemon Sauce

Italian Jews have always been very fond of lemons, and incorporate their juice and zest into many recipes: just like those with vinegar, these dishes are described as "all'agro" (sour style). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, they were apparently heavy lemonade drinkers - in most regions it was sweetened with honey or sugar, but in Rome it was seasoned with salt.* [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:74] … [Read More...]

Olive Oil

All About Olive Oil

BUILD AN OLIVE OIL WARDROBE Oils and fats do not just add texture, but flavor in Italian food; that's why, if you want to eat like a REAL Italian, you should use different ones depending on the type of food you are cooking and the result you are trying to achieve. Butter and seed oils are more traditional than olive oil in Northern Italian cuisine (goose fat used to be popular as well!); and in general, for risotto, for frying fish, and for desserts, some people prefer sunflower oil, grapeseed oil or even canola. Some dishes like risotto taste best with butter, but you prefer to limit saturated fats you can start with a canola or sunflower oil, and just add some butter at the end with the parmigiano, to give it flavor and sheen. Most generic Italian olive oils, even when extra-virgin, are made with blends from different regions (by the way, always buy extra-virgin for the best flavor: plus they are cold-processed and therefore do not require a hechsker according to most … [Read More...]

Bigoli in Salsa

Bigoli in Salsa

Bigoli are a kind of thick, hand-made whole-wheat spaghetti typical of Venice, my hometown. This delicious white sauce with onions and anchovies has Jewish roots, but has become popular across the religious spectrum. This recipe can also be made using regular whole-wheat spaghetti. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:95]   … [Read More...]

Beet Radicchio Leek and  Ricotta Pie

Savory Beet Pie with Ricotta, Radicchio and Leeks

Beets are native to the Mediterranean, but for a very long time people ate only their leaves, while the root was used in medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It was only in 19th century France that the beet’s culinary potential was discovered, while at the same time the Germans proved that it could produce sugar , making it an easy local alternative to the tropical sugar cane. Beets are in season from June through October , but they are easy to find throughout the year because, like other root vegetables, they store well. Their flavor is deep, sweet, hearty and rich, making them ideal for cold-weather recipes like this one. Cooking the beets whole is the best way to retain most of their flavor and nutritive value. In particular, roasting intensifies the flavor, and makes the peels easy to remove. Just cut off any greens, (you can cook them and eat them separately), scrub the beets clean, place them on a large piece of aluminum foil, fold and close the foil,  and bake in a … [Read More...]

Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

We don’t know for sure how rice made its way to Italy, if through the Arabs of Sicily, the Crusaders, or Venetian merchants (or all of them independently). In any case, after its arrival it was considered for centuries not a food, but a costly medicinal spice used for making digestive teas. 
In the fourteenth century the use of rice started expanding to desserts, but it was still uncommon and imported from abroad. Its cultivation was forbidden, due to the fear of diseases like malaria, linked to stagnant water. It took a long series of famines and the devastation caused by the great plague (1348-1352), which almost exhausted the production of traditional staples (spelt, millet, barley, etc), to persuade the local governments to invest in the production of this new cereal, which in Asia was already the main source of nourishment for millions of people. Together with corn and potatoes – which were introduced after the discovery of the Americas - rice was critical to the rebuilding … [Read More...]

Tartines with Blue Cheese and Red Grapes

Tartines with Blue Cheese and Red Grapes

Italian Jews have always enjoyed a wide variety of cheeses, both as a simple accompaniment to bread, and as an ingredient in our recipes. Ashkenazi Jews, on the other hand,  historically had access to only a couple of kinds of the soft variety, and never developed a cuisine around them - or a real taste for them. In recent years, however, the kosher marketplace in Israel and (to a lesser degree) in the US has expanded to include an ever-increasing range of options. The newer generations, in particular, have even learned how to appreciate more complex flavors. In this context, a reader emailed me last week to ask how she could serve blue cheese to her friends at a casual Golden Globes get-together, and the quick, easy recipe below (learned from a friend in Modena, who makes it with Gorgonzola) would be perfect for that type of party. It also gives me the chance to chat about cheese pairings, which are a lot of fun because the possibilities are almost endless. Depending on their … [Read More...]

Traditional Pasta Sauce (Meat)

Traditional Pasta Sauce

A quick and traditional pasta sauce used for Shabbat in many communities in Northern Italy is the juice left over from roasting lean cuts of meat. Use high-quality Italian olive oil, a couple of garlic cloves (whole), rosemary, salt and pepper. Serve some of this sauce with the roast meat, but use what's left to dress egg noodles (tagliolini or fettuccine). A cold version of this pasta is the Agresto, or Bagna Brusca, in which lemon juice and egg are added to the meat juices after the pasta has been allowed to cool off. In this case, serve at room temperature. … [Read More...]

Riso Giallo del Sabato (Yellow Rice for Shabbat)

Riso Giallo del Sabato (Yellow Rice for Shabbat)

The usual preparation for risotto, adding hot broth a little at a time releases so much starch that the rice must be eaten right away or it will clump. This pilaf version, on the other hand, can be prepared in advance and reheated, and is a traditional Friday night dish of Sephardic origins in both Venice and Ferrara. This dish can be made Parve, Dairy, or Meat. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:100] … [Read More...]

Tuna Loaf

Tuna Loaf

Move over, Gefilte Fish! In Italy, we have our own not-so-refined and yet delicious comfort appetizer... Tuna Loaf. I don't know if I can call this recipe historical, because it's made with canned tuna ;-) but it's been around long enough that a couple of versions are included in a G. A. Vitali-Norsa's "classic" 'La Cucina nella Tradizione Ebraica" (1970).  Of course, many more variations are enjoyed often - especially in the warm seasons - on countless Jewish Italian tables. Here is mine: [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:89]   … [Read More...]

Chocolate Salami - Salame Cioccolato (parve)

Chocolate Salami – Salame Cioccolato

Obviously, this is not only for Passover! Ask any Italian child and they will probably name chocolate salami as their favorite dessert, any time, anywhere. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:24] … [Read More...]

Torta di spinaci e mandorle

Almond Spinach Torta

My first encounter with this concept was in Giuliana Ascoli-Norsa’s beautiful collection “La Cucina nella Tradizione Ebraica”: I immediately loved it for its uniqueness, and because I was already partial to carrot cake. However, the original recipe used more than a pound of spinach and no potato starch or liqueur, and the result was disappointing. It wasn’t until several decades later, after I moved to the US and tried zucchini muffins, that I remembered this unusual combination and decided to try my hand at it again. This time I emailed all my friends from Tuscany (the area where this Passover dessert is supposed to have originated) to see if they could offer any variations. Unfortunately the spinach cake turned out to be a sort of culinary chimera, a mythical dessert that everybody had heard about but nobody had tasted or knew how to make (on the other hand, I did gather top-notch instructions for spinach fritters, and a sweet spinach and ricotta tart). At this point, though, I had … [Read More...]

Italian Charoset

Italian Charoset

Charoset is one of the symbolic foods that we eat during our Passover seder: its name comes from the Hebrew word cheres (חרס), which means “clay.” Charoset is a dense fruit paste that represents the mortar used by the ancient Hebrew slaves in Egypt to make bricks. Because Passover celebrates freedom, a small amount of charoset is placed on the seder plate as a reminder that we were once slaves and we should not take our freedom for granted. There are many different versions of Charoset in Italy. Let’s start with the one I usually make for my Seder, a recipe from Padova (Padua), near Venice: [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:23] … [Read More...]

Stuffed Fried Zucchini Flowers (Dairy)

Stuffed and Fried Zucchini Flowers

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:70] … [Read More...]

Eggplant Roulades with Tuna

Eggplant Roulades with Tuna

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:88] … [Read More...]

Chestnut and Leek Soup

Chestnut and Leek Soup

Chestnuts were central to the traditional Italian diet, especially in the mountains and among the poor. This simple soup is extremely satisfying when it's cold outside, especially if you accompany it with a nice glass of a dry, fruity white wine. For an ever richer soup, you can substitute half the vegetable stock with milk. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:94]   … [Read More...]

marinated zucchini

Marinated Zucchini

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:69] … [Read More...]

Potato and Leek Soup

Potato and Leek Soup

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:93]   … [Read More...]

Fava Bean Soup with Peas and Arugola

Fava Bean Soup with Peas and Arugola

Fava beans , also known as known broad beans, have been part of the human diet from time immemorial. They were probably one of the staples in ancient Israel, since they are mentioned more than once in the Mishnah. Archaeologists even found charred samples in Israel near Nazareth, dating back to 4900 BCE! They were also cultivated in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and remained for a long time the only bean available in Europe - until other types were brought from the Americas in the 1500's. In Central and Southern Italy, fava beans announce the warm season, and people wait excitedly for their arrival at the local markets. When purchased fresh, the beans need to be removed from their pods, blanched, and then popped out of their skins, which is something I look forward to doing while watching the latest Mad Men episode. If you are not so patient, you can skip all these steps by buying them frozen. I never ate fava beans at home in Venice, they were always a treat  that I enjoyed when … [Read More...]

Gratinated Tomatoes

Gratinated Tomatoes

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:87] … [Read More...]

Chocolate Cake with Dates and Almonds (Dairy or Parve)

Chocolate Cake with Dates and Almonds

The Jewish New Year for Trees falls on the 15th of the month of Av – February 8th this year. There is a wide-spread custom of eating several different kinds of fruit, mindfully and in a specific order (the ‘seder’), with the idea that they symbolize different aspects of the world – which we need to understand in order to come closer to God. This custom originated in Isaac Luria’s  Kabbalistic circles in old Safed, and was first described in detail in the manual ”Pri Etz Hadar,” [“The Fruit of the Majestic Tree”], published in Venice in 1728. Not only was Venice one of the main centers of Jewish learning and Hebrew printing at the time, but also of the kabbalistic movement. While several authorities condemned the pamphlet (kabbalah was wide-spread, but still quite controversial!), it continued to be widely circulated and published. Fast-forward to our time: many Jews all over the world still celebrate this ancient agricultural festival by gathering a bunch of friends and family … [Read More...]