Ciambella, Italian Yogurt Cake

Ciambella, an Italian Yogurt Cake

Using only a 4 ounce (125 ml) vanilla yogurt cup learn how to make an easy and deliciously moist cake!  Just embrace the Italian Simplicity as you make a cake with only a yogurt cup.  Great for dessert or breakfast.

Buon Appetito!

Preheat oven to 350F (170 C). Serves 8-12.

Grease (with a pat of butter) and flour cake pan and set aside. Italian cakes are generally made dry and then moisture is added after the baking. This is usually done by drizzling Pineapple Juice, Marsala, Maraschino or Rum. If you do not want to add the juice or liquor simply skip this step and add 1 cup of oil to the batter.

  • 1 4 ounce yogurt cup of vanilla
  • 2 yogurt cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 yogurt cup vegetable or olive oil for a moist cake.
  • (FOR a DRY cake moistened with liquor utilize the following:          1/2 yogurt cup oil for baking. Then after the cake is cooled drizzle 1/2 cup your choice of: Pineapple Juice, Rum, Sweet Marsala all over cake.)
  • 3 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • zest of an entire orange OR 2 lemons for a citrus flavor

In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients in order. Using a free standing mixer  or a hand held mixer set to a low setting, begin to combine all ingredients.  Mix for about 2 minutes on medium high, turn off mixer and set aside. With a rubber spatula or spoon scrap the cake batter into the pre-greased and floured pan of choice. Place into oven and allow to bake for 25 minutes. Cake is done when inserted fork tines or toothpick comes out clean when removed.

After cooling the cake can be cut in half and filled with custard, pudding or marmalade. Place the removed half back on top of lower half and spread filling.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar by tapping a sieve.

Panellets! Almond Cookies

ImageAlmond cookies made with fresh lemon are easy to make and substantially nutritious.  Tradition wants these cookies to be made on All Saints Day November 1 in Spain.  A great dessert that can be paired with: espresso, coffee, lemon tea, Vin Santo or Limoncello. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, Manganese, Magnesium and Potassium; all which promote heart health. It has also been demonstrated, that a handful of Almonds consumed together with white bread or sugar shows a drop in the Glycemic Index, stabilizing the blood glucose after meals.

  • 1 pound (500 g) of Almond Meal/Flour
  • 2 1/2 cup (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (100 ml) water
  • 1 small potato (200 g)
  • 1 grated lemon peel (no white pith)
  • 5 drops of lemon juice

TOPPINGS: choose your favorite! Make a variety of flavors to accent your dessert table.

  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1 cup (57 g) Pine Nuts
  • 1 cup (57 g) Crushed Almonds
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder with 2 Tablespoons Instant Coffee or Espresso Powder
  • 1/2 cup (28 g) Coconut Flakes
  • Masharano Cherries

Peel the potato and cut into quarters. On high heat, boil potato in a small saucepan of water until cooked, easily breaks apart, 15 minutes cook time. Drain water and mash potato with a fork. Set aside.

In a second medium sized saucepan, place sugar and water. Over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved; about 8 minutes, add lemon juice. Turn off heat and remove pan, the liquid should become clear syrup).

Add to syrup: the Almond Flour, Mashed Potato and Lemon Peel. Stir vigorously until all ingredients are combined to a dough. Remove dough and roll dough into a log with a diameter of 1 1/2 inch (3 cm). Place onto plastic wrap, completely wrap and place in refrigerator for 1/2 hour.

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

Meanwhile, prepare toppings, placing each one into individual bowls/plates.

Grease cookie sheet with butter.

Remove dough from refrigerator, discard plastic wrap and put dough onto cutting board. With a teaspoon cut a piece of dough and make into a small ball. Place ball into favorite topping roll it around and then onto cookie sheet. IF USING NUTS AS A TOPPING, brush dough ball with egg,  then roll dough into nuts and place onto cookie sheet.  Place into oven on center rack and allow to bake for 8 minutes until golden in color. Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow cookies to cool for about minutes, place onto plate cover and store in the refrigerator. Served cold.

Pesto with optional Sunflower Seeds

Simply ingredients for a delectable pesto sauce.

Freshly Chopped Basil carries over a summer flavor into early fall! Add Pesto to your favorite Pasta, Soup, use as a Sandwich Spread, added into a Cheese Ball, or on a baguette as an appetizer. Very easy to assemble and make; less than 10 minutes to prepare and enjoy!

Pesto will leave you wanting MORE! Serves 6 people.  This recipe allows for an Optional 1/4 cup of  Roasted Sunflower seeds, Pine Nuts, or Walnuts for a nuttier flavor.

LET’S BEGIN:  Fill pasta pan with water and place on burner set at high to boil.

Use a Food Processor for quickest preparation. Set to chop then blend. OR a cutting board with a half moon, OR mortar.

Homemade Pesto and Pasta

2 cups Basil Leaves (Stores now sells containers or you can buy a plant. Remove and wash leaves.)
1 large single garlic clove
(optional 1/2 cup Pine Nuts or Walnuts)
1/2 -3/4 cup Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Pecorino Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to Drizzle over Pasta and Pesto
1 cup Parmesan Cheese to top off Pasta dishes.
A few small springs of basil set aside for presentation.

Finished Pesto


Freshly chopped herbs and garlic done by knife or half moon.

With Processer “Set to OFF” add basil leaves and garlic clove ( If opting to use nuts you may add them in at this point). Begin to “CHOP” leaves and garlic (nuts) for about 30 seconds. (Same for assembly with half moon or mortar.)

Set processor  to “PUREE” and through spout of machine slowly add HALF of olive oil. (If making by hand and incorporate cheese, spices and oil with a fork) Allow processor to work. Set oil aside. Add Salt and Pepper. Slowly add cheese, alternating with olive oil. Allow to BLEND together for about 1 minute. Set aside or cover and store in the refrigerator.

Pesto made with the mortar brings the oils from the herbs to the sauce.

Add pasta of choice to BOILING water. Add 2 Tbsp salt. Allow pasta to boil for 1 minute
less of indicated time. (If box indicates boil 8 minutes, then boil for 7 minutes to achieve “al dente” and allow pasta to “absorb pesto”.) Drain water from cooked pasta. Rinse pasta with cold water for 10 seconds; (RECOMMENDED RINSE ONLY for this pasta dish), so that the cheese in the pesto will not coagulate to the pasta.

Place pasta in a large serving dish.  Add prepared 1/2 cup Pesto for 4 individuals . With two forks toss pasta and pesto together until pasta is dressed in pesto. (Additional pesto for more flavor!)

Serve into individual dishes. Drizzle a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over pasta and top off with desired cheese. Place basil spring on top of prepared pasta for presentation.

By: Kimberly Crocker-Scardicchio

Pizza Napoletana

Pizza Personalized! Enjoy a simple Margherita or your favorite toppings.

Enjoy a Pizza from Naples on your grill this summer, or from the oven! This recipe can be enjoyed by utilizing a few simple ingredients and very little effort, serves 4.

May be prepared by hand, or with a kitchen mixer by using the bread hook and setting the mixer on stir in 4 minutes.  The dough does rises in 30 minutes.

If living in Europe, the common Fresh Beer Yeast is best to use; if living in the states, dry yeast may be more readily available. The Dry Yeast must be grown in 5 minutes and it does so with using “a pinch of sugar” for food in order to activate the dry yeast.

Ingredients for recipe: Yeast (dry of fresh), Sugar, Flour, Water, Salt, choose either Semolina Flour OR Corn Meal. A Pizza Stone produces excellent results, but a baking sheet can be substituted.

Part One: For Dry Yeast only:  In a bowl combine together with a fork, the following ingredients and allow the starter dough to sponge for 5 minutes.

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water 110 F (bath water feel)
  • 110 F 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp sugar.

The yeast mixture should have bubbled and increased in size.

Part Two: Combine the following ingredients in order in large bowl (for Fresh Beer Yeast, simply crumble it and work into the flour). May use dough hook,or knead by hand, for 4 minutes. (Salt should not immediately touch the dry yeast starter or it will kill the levitation process. Instead, add it after the flour.)

  • Starter Yeast or 1 Crumbled Fresh Beer Yeast
  • 2 ¼ cup flour (500 grams)
  • 1/4  tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon  warm water 110 F or 43 C.

Texture of dough should be supple and elastic, not sticky. Place dough into a large ball in

Dough will rise to double it’s original slice and be supple to the touch

a warm place with bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow it to rise, doubling in size for 30 minutes.

Part Three: The dough may be rolled out singly OR divided into 4 equally sized balls. Cover with a towel and allow to sit for another 5 minutes while preparing  the next steps.

PIZZA STONE in oven or on a grill!

Place a pizza stone directly onto the grill rack or into the oven. Pre-heat grill or oven to 425F or 200 C. Meanwhile, cut dough into 4 equal parts, make small balls and cover with a dry hand towel. Sprinkle Semolina Flour or Corn Meal onto counter and Roll out dough thinly on a counter top. Likewise, sprinkle semolina flour or corn meal onto pizza paddle and then place rolled out dough onto paddle and lastly, add favorite toppings. Using pizza paddle in a gentle rocking movement allow pizza to slide onto preheated pizza stone. Close grill lid and allow to bake on stone for 10 minutes.

Without Pizza Stone

Pre-heat oven to 425 F. Meanwhile, generously grease cookie sheet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roll out dough and place onto cookie sheet. Add favorite toppings  and place into preheated oven allow to bake for 10 minutes.

Sauce for 4 Pizza Margherita’s

  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce/puree (Ingredients on a bottle or can of Tomato Sauce/Puree will have only Tomatos, salt or citric acid)
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp salt (a pinch of salt)
  • Top off with Mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a bowl, combine tomato sauce/puree, oregano, salt and olive oil. Place 2 tablespoons of sauce onto center of pizza dough and with the backside of the spoon make outward circular motion with the sauce until it is evenly spread, from the center to the edge of the pizza.  Top off with 3-4 thinly sliced fresh Mozzarella or add any other favorite toppings, i.e. mushrooms, olives, anchovies, etc.
  • AFTER PIZZA HAS BAKED, place cooked pizza onto serving plate and drizzle fresh extra virgin olive oil! BUON APPETITO!!!

By: Kimberly Crocker-Scardicchio

Authentic Ragu` Italian Sauce

Old Bari w Homemade Oricchette Pasta

RAGU` is a common dish served in southern Italy for Sunday lunch after morning church services.  Very easy to prepare!

Prep. time 5 minutes!  Cooking time 3-4 hours on low heat.Can be made the day before.

 Serves 4-6 people.

  • 1-2 pounds Roast (1 kilo)
  • 1 medium onion peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Two 28 oz cans tomato sauce (1 ½ L)
  • 1 cup of water.
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Add salt to taste. 2 tsp. salt
  • 10 leaves fresh  Basil (add ONLY in the last 10 minutes of cooking sauce.) Reserve 6 leaves for presentation of dish.
  • Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)   

With a sharp knife cut and quarter the roast to accommodate number of people being served and place in a large pan. Add coarsely chopped onion and olive oil. Cover pan and allow to cook for 15 minutes on MEDIUM heat, turning the meat twice with the onions, as to not to burn. 

Add ½ -3/4 cup of red wine, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 5 minutes on LOW heat. 

Add tomato sauce,1 cup of water and milk. Prop lid of pan with wooden spoon and allow to simmer on LOW or Warm heat for 3-4 hours turning sauce occasionally (every 20 minutes) as to not to burn the Ragu. 

After 3-4 hours of cooking Ragu, Add 10 chopped basil leaves to sauce and remove the Ragu from the heat.  In a separate pan boil water and add your favorite pasta. The Orecchiette (little ears) pasta or Tortellini is commonly used with the Ragu ` Sauce.  This delicious married combination  originated from the city of Bari the beautiful southern region of Puglia, on the breathtaking Adriatic Sea. 

Drain pasta of all water and return pasta to pan.  Add 2-3 ladles full of sauce to pasta and turn in pan .  Spoon out pasta onto dish,  pass with 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, add one ladle of sauce on top of cheese.  Add 1 tsp of cheese to top of sauce and place a fresh basil leave for a beautiful presentation. 

Serve with meat on side.  Click on Waldorf Salad to complete this dinner!

By Kimberly Crocker

Old City of Bari and Homemade Pasta