Tag Archives: homemade

Trick to Making Great Italian Pizza

Italians take food very seriously. We don’t make jokes about food, we consider it almost a sacred subject. There are some things that you cannot say to an Italian without making him or her explaining how the risotto you have just eaten is not the real one and what the real lasagne should look like. That’s why when an American friend of mine told me that she once “made a pizza” by buying a Pita bread and putting cheese on it, I couldn’t accept the fact the she believed to have made a pizza. I knew I had to do something, and there was only one thing I had to do: to make a Pizza.

Pizza is the most famous Italian food in the world, so famous that it is not even necessarily associated with Italy anymore. But in Italy, it is crystal clear that pizza is our creation, and therefore we feel like the only ones to have the right to talk about it.

In Italy, young people usually go to a pizzeria to eat pizza once a week, as the most normal social event you can imagine. It’s cheap and good, so why not? But a lot of people are able to make their own pizza as well, especially when you realize how easy it is. So, are you ready?

The first thing to do is the pizza dough. Here is what you need:

Continue reading Trick to Making Great Italian Pizza


Cinnamon Rolls: Buttery Happiness in Swirls

In the olden days, people thought that cinnamon was an aphrodisiac; I think butter is my choice in terms of the way to foodgasms.  However, since people always make fun of me for loving cinnamon on my yogurt, granola, salmon, cupcakes, bread, and steak, a combination of the these two amazing ingredients in a cinnamon roll sounded like a good idea on a snowy afternoon.  This is the perfect treat to pair with a steaming mug of French Vanilla coffee; the acidity cuts the creaminess of the cinnamon roll.

Cinnamon rolls are examples of enriched breads.  I used brioche dough: make sure at least two egg yolks are used, as well as European unsalted, cold but softened butter (for reasons, see my previous article on bread-making tips).   Let the dough relax for about fifteen minutes before manipulating.  The dough consists of flour, water, eggs, sugar, dry yeast, and butter.  The condiment ingredients include dried fruit, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.

Roll out the dough into a eight-by-eight inch square.  When rolling, do not exceed the edge of the dough by at least an inch; if you go off the square, you get an icky, tapered end that doesn’t allow for the bread to have equal width throughout, which is the only surefire way to guarantee equal cooking.  Uniform thickness can be achieved by turning the dough a quarter to the left each roll-out.

What every roll needs is more butter.  Cover the surface of the square with a thin layer of European-style butter, except for about an inch to an inch and a half on the bottom.  Do not put too much butter on, or else your roll won’t hold together; the butter is to permit the cinnamon to stick, but too much will cause your roll to splinter and roll out even after it bakes.


Spread a thin layer of brown sugar (unprocessed cane sugar) and cinnamon mixture onto the butter; be careful not to put on too much, because otherwise it’ll leak out of the top and the bottom of the roll and form a caramelized base; it’s not the worst possible scenario, but it makes clean-up a mess and a sad democracy in terms of caramelized and non-caramelized rolls.  I like my bread uniform, although rolls exploding with cinnamon (as it did my first time) isn’t a bad idea sometimes.  Also, tweak the proportions; I like more cinnamon with a dash of paprika for spiciness, but many people that I know just like a hint of cinnamon and mostly caramelized sugar.

Add raisins if desired.  Soak them in liquid – water, liquor, juice – beforehand so that they won’t be tempted to suck the moisture out of your bread once the heat of the oven hits.  Apricots and apples work well, too, as do strawberries.  I’ve also added walnuts before, but unless you want your rolls exploding like mine did on my first try, don’t add too much extra fruit and nuts!

I roll my cinnamon rolls typewriter-style.  Roll and press from the left to the right, permitting tighter rolls.  Cut them in one- to one and a half-inch rolls, using the first roll as a measurement tool for the others; one 8-inch roll usually yields somewhere between four and six rolls, but you want them all the same so that they’d bake properly at the same time.

Wrap the unbuttered ends around the bottom of the rolls, brush on a tiny bit of eggwash, and send it to the oven for fourteen minutes! This recipe will allow a decent amount of crusting to occur, but leave the center soft and chewy.  The bread is ready when it has stopped expanding, the crust is a light golden color, and sounds hollow when tapped on the sides.

Remember that this bread can also be transformed into a savory snack.  One of my favorites is using olive oil or salted butter with parsley, cilantro, or dill, and rolling in some capers and smoked salmon.

These rolls are the embodiment of buttery foodgasms with every bite.  The tartness of the raisins cut the richness of the butter, while the floating notes of the unprocessed brown sugar sweetness render a rounded finish to the soft interior of a crusty, crunchy shell.  Mmm.

Pasta with Homemade Pesto, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes, and Potato

Savannah starts her season, The Seasoned Kitchen…

Over this past winter break my boyfriend, Andrew, and I prepared a special dinner just for our parents. Inspired by their love for Italian food and our recent kale cravings, we returned from Whole Foods with a bag full of winter greens, plump cherry tomatoes, a block of Parmesan, fresh hydroponic-grown basil, some raw pine nuts, a wholegrain baguette, and a russet potato. Unloading our purchased ingredients onto the countertop and gathering the rest from the cupboards, we vigorously began chopping, peeling, slicing, dicing, boiling, straining, and dancing to Arcade Fire. My dad often laughs at us when cook because nothing is ever organized, and by the time we’re done there is not one surface that goes untouched. Although food is everywhere, there is always enough cooked for seconds.

One of the greatest things I love about cooking for family and friends is its ability to bring people together and make them smile. While we scraped our bowls clean, we spent most of that night sitting at the table talking and laughing with one another. The dinner we made for our parents was probably one of the best we prepared (and repeatedly made) all break. I hope you, your friends, and your family enjoy this recipe as much as we did.




Homemade Pesto (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 large bunch of basil, stems removed

2 cloves of garlic

Small handful of pine nuts

¾ cup of grated Parmesan

Olive oil



1 bag of whole grain rotini, or other spiraled pasta

3 tbsp live oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 large bunch of kale, washed, dried, and roughly chopped

1 medium russet potato, washed, peeled, and diced

¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Homemade Pesto

Red pepper flakes (optional)

Grated Parmesan (optional)



  1. To prepare the pesto start chopping some of the garlic with about half the basil leaves. Once finely chopped, add some more basil and the other garlic clove, chop, add the rest of the basil, and chop.
  2. Using the blade of your knife, scrape and pat the mixture of chopped basil and garlic into a rectangle on the cutting board. Add about half the pine nuts, chop, and add the rest of the pine nuts. Scrape mixture back into a rectangle. Add half the Parmesan, chop, add the rest of the Parmesan and chop until everything is finely chopped and evenly mixed.
  3. Transfer into a small bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Prepare a pot of well-salted water for pasta. While the water heats, put the diced potato into a small pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the potatoes are soft but still firm enough to hold their shape. Strain and set aside.
  5. To prepare kale heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and minced garlic in a large wok or pan on medium heat. Add chopped kale to pan and sauté until wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Lower the flame to medium-low and add about 1 cup of water to the pan with the kale. Cover and let simmer for 3 minutes (this step helps soften the kale some more). Turn off stove, strain kale, and then transfer back to pan. Put pan back on stove but don’t turn on. Add halved cherry tomatoes and cooked potatoes.
  7. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Strain pasta.
  8. Turn the stove on medium-low and warm the kale, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes. When warmed to desired temperature add the pasta and mix until evenly distributed.
  9. Remove pesto from fridge and stir before adding to the pasta mixture. Then add pesto and stir until evenly distributed throughout the pasta.
  10. Serve and garnish with grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.