Dec 22, 2020

Be my Guest - Ellen of An Italian Dish

Welcome back to a series that is dear to my heart. Be My Guest showcases like-minded guest bloggers who share intimate moments with the food of the heart, here on Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino. 
Be My Guest
Today I hand over the baton to Ellen. Her Italian food and travel themed blog, An Italian Dish, is a labor of love. In it she shares her love of naturally vegetarian Italian dishes, recipes, travel tales as well as some stories from her genealogy research.

Ellen - Be My Guest

Take it away, Ellen!

The season of gift giving is upon us, and I think back to one of the kindest, most thoughtful life-altering gifts I have ever received. It happened many decades ago, when I was a horribly adolescent 15 year old girl. You know that age, when we spend our junior high years trying to find an identity, flailing about in a sea of confusion. The gift given to me by my Nana altered me on a cellular level and still reverberates in my heart to this day.

Ellen and Nana

Nana was raised in the North End, Boston's Little Italy, where her parents had immigrated from southern Italy during the migration at the turn of the century. Life was full of hardships, so in her mid-twenties, Nana moved out to California. She left her Italian side behind except for her yearly trips back to Boston to see her paesani, her siblings, cousins, and friends.

Nana’s gift--when I was 15, she brought me to the North End where I met dozens of cousins, aunts and uncles I never knew existed. For the first time, I was wrapped in a blanket of Italian love and my Italian identity was born. We attended the Feast of Saint Anthony where I ate zeppole and walked down the streets of my ancestors. 

Now, all these years later, I put this love into my blog, An Italian Dish. It’s a place to share travel stories, recipes and to pay tribute to my family. 

ebook cover

This year, I created an Italian Christmas Cookie ebook called Traditional Italian Holiday Cookies & Tasty Treats. The ebook features classics like biscotti, pasta frolla, Sicilian Fig Cookies, Krumiri, and Mostaccioli that are near and dear to my southern Italian relatives.

To learn more, to receive my ebook or to subscribe, visit here

You can follow Ellen and An Italian Dish on Instagram, or Facebook. vg

Sep 6, 2020

Guest on the Dear Food Podcast

Dear Food is a podcast created by and intended for food lovers. You can imagine how thrilled I was when the creator, veteran Hollywood host and producer Ashley Chaney, asked me to be a guest on the show's maiden voyage!
guest on DEAR FOOD podcats

The claim is, "If food makes you feel happy, comforted, and loved, this show is for you. Whether or not you know how to cook, Dear Food speaks directly to your soul."

When Ashley asked me to be the first episode guest, she made it clear she wanted us to talk about Italian food and droolworthy descriptions of my favorite flavors, but mostly about the importance of how some foods connect to personal history and identity.

"Italian food is not just food. It's eating, sitting down with the family, with friends or loved ones or by yourself and making that moment the most important moment of the day."
You can play the full episode and enjoy all the others on Apple Podcasts to fill up your plate with conversations about the foods that make us feel something; and you'll be transported to kitchens around the world, to hear the stories behind our favorite dishes. Happy listening!

Aug 24, 2020

Live Eggplant Parmigiana Class!

Join my online cooking class!

I've always dreamed of having you over for dinner. Now's my chance to make that dream come true and your chance to travel virtually to Italy, straight to my kitchen in Rome!

Are you following me on Instagram and Facebook? Then you know that in 2015 I co-founded an independent tour company called Casa Mia

Given the current situation, Casa Mia has shifted its attention from in-person food tours and cooking lessons to online experiences. The format however is the same: lessons are held in the comfort of our homes, and recipes are geared for the home cook, like us. 

single portion eggplant parmigiana

We launched our live interactive online cooking lessons when Italy was in lockdown and it's been a huge success. Our classes bring people together, bringt smiles and a taste of Italy to kitchens far and wide. My partners and I cook, bake and whip up our favorite recipes, live via Zoom. These recipes are the ones we know how to make with our eyes closed, the ones we feed our loved ones, the ones that evoke the sweetest memories.

Our lessons are fun and adapt to all kinds of cooks. We even organize private classes if you prefer learning one-on-one, or if you want to host a fun virtual party with friends and family who are far away. We can also arrange special lessons geared for kids!

Some examples? In April, when the Roman countryside gave us its purple bounty, I taught participants how to cook Artichokes 3 ways. the following month I demystified the local pasta classics and shared all my secrets to perfect Carbonara & Amatriciana. With my business partner Gina, I hosted several Wine & Cheese Pairing lessons. I even made Tiramisu in 2 ways; and as the summer season hit, I taught Italian food lovers across many continents my favorite summer staples, like Pomodori al Riso and my mother's Eggplant Parmigiana.

The latter was such a success that a waiting list formed, and many other people requested I offer the lesson again.

This is the time: the eggplant, basil and tomatoes are at their peak. Once you sign up you'll receive a confirmation with a link + password to join the live Zoom class, and a shopping list via email a week prior to the lesson.

Sign up here and don't miss the chance to cook, laugh and drink a glass of wine with me on Sunday, September 20th! Aprons on at 3 pm Eastern, it will be evening here in Rome.

I hope to see you!

Jun 1, 2020

Let's cook together! Join our interactive online cooking classes

How long has it been since you last took a cooking class?

I started this blog Aglio Olio e Peperoncino as my virtual kitchen, sharing recipes and travel journals. During these months of lockdown my business partners with Casa Mia Tours and I took that concept one step further and decided to open our actual kitchens, inviting you in to cook with us.

Like many other businesses, our travel planning company immensely suffered the new reality. All of our clients' bookings were canceled overnight. With heavy hearts we had to call off engagements with guides, cooks, drivers and service providers that rely on the work we hire them for, all across Italy.

This new reality however has given us the gift of spending more time in our homes and in our kitchens. At a time when social distancing, fear and adapting to a new normal has shifted our habits and changed our lives, we felt that the next best thing to traveling to Italy was going there virtually, recreating the convivial warmth and flavors typical of the Italian culture.

Our live interactive online cooking lessons create a connection, a warm feeling of closeness across continents, at a time when closeness is not an option.

We offer simple interactive cooking lessons as a way to bring the universal us together. Classes are geared towards home cooks like us, and are open to all.

In this unprecedented moment, we look forward to welcoming you into our kitchens, tying on aprons, and getting to know you virtually, until we can do it in person.

Below is a summary of our June calendar.

A word of advice: book your online live cooking classes fast, because spots are selling like hotcakes.

June lessons, pairings and beyond

  • June 4, 2020 : Roman Classics, by popular demand – Learn to make Gricia & Amatriciana with Carolyn. The simple combination of Pecorino Romano cheese and guanciale – cured pork jowl – form a delicious base for most Eterna City pastas. ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT!
  • June 5, 2020 : Italian dolce : Tiramisu 2 ways taught by me – Boost your dessert game by learning two versions of Italy's most popular dessert. This is a fun, easy and safe lesson that's also suitable for the young foodies in the family. ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT!
  • June 11, 2020 : Fresh Pasta – Cavatelli al Pesto taught by Carolyn – you'll combine water and flour to make cavatelli, a delicious vehicle for a vibrant, herbaceous pesto. LAST FEW SPOTS LEFT!

  • June 13, 2020 : Cheese & Wine Club – Summer in the Italian South led by me and Gina – During our interactive wine & cheese pairing lesson we taste 3 summer wines (a white, a rosé and a lightly chilled red from southern Italian regions) paired with 3 cheeses made in different styles and with an assortment of milk types
  • June 14, 2020 : Sunday comfort – Neapolitan Ragù aka Sunday gravy taught by Gina – During our 90-minute live interactive cooking lesson, we’ll enjoy a morning coffee while preparing the base of the legendary Neapolitan ragù
  • June 20, 2020 : Fresh Pasta – Lemon Ricotta Tortellini in Brown Butter Sauce taught by Carolyn – Stuffed pastas aren't as intimidating as you may think. At the end of this class you’ll not only have a delectable dinner, but also acquire the knowledge and confidence to create a variety of stuffed pastas. ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT!
  • June 23, 2020 : Sicilian specialties – Caponata taught by Gina – quintessential Sicilian salad/stew consisting of fried eggplant, celery, tomato and olives in a sweet and sour sauce. Learn to master densely flavored caponata and discover a number of variations
  • June 26, 2020 : Complete meal recipes – Pomodori al Riso taught by me - Learn to master rice-stuffed tomatoes, a classic Italian complete meal, or piatto unico, made with Arborio rice baked within the hollowed-out plump heirloom tomatoes.

You can find details and book your spaces for our group virtual online cooking classes here

Email us if you'd like to book a private lesson just for your family/friends.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen in Rome!

online cooking classes Casa Mia Tours

May 21, 2020

Guest on the Ciao Bella podcast

I was thrilled when my friend Erica Firpo invited me to talk about my passion for cheese on her Ciao Bella podcast. I naturally steered the conversation towards blue cheese.

You can play and download the full The ABCs of Italian Cheese episode below: