Saturday, December 28, 2013

Crazy Italians Ring in the New Year eating lentils for good luck while wearing red underwear!

Our Nonna's recipe is said to bring good luck with the New Year. According to the tale, it also helps if you wear red underwear while you eat the lentils. Some sources say that the underwear has to be new and given to the wearer as a gift. The shape of lentils looks like a coin, so eating them should bring you wealth in the New Year. This dish is common in Italian restaurants, but everything tastes better if you make it yourself right?! So tie on your apron and give our recipes a try!!!!

 Cotechino Con Lenticchie ~ Lentils and Sausage

Featured in Cooking Vacations January 2010 Newsletter
Serves 4 to 6

One large cotechino type sausage or pork, chicken or turkey

300 g small green lentils

2 bay leaves

Olive oil

1 onion, pealed but left whole

Handful finely chopped parsley

Written and typed by Chloe Lucia Cohen

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ricciarelli From Siena!

Warm your Christmas with traditional sweets from Siena called Ricciarelli.  Snuggle up to the fire with a hot cup of cocoa and enjoy the delicate old world cookies from Tuscany.  From our kitchen to yours, hope you bake up a storm!  From our kitchen at Cooking Vacations,

Ricciarelli Cookies

200 gr of peeled almonds

20 gr of bitter almonds

200 gr of sugar

1 tsp of orange essence

1 egg white
Flour (as much as is needed)

The tip of a teaspoon of baking powder
50 gr of powdered sugar

Grind the almonds well, add the orange essence, the baking powder, the sugar and then finally add the egg white and as much flour as you need to obtain a soft dough, consistent but not too tough. Sprinkle the powdered sugar on a table and form a log with the dough, then cut it into small pieces (about 30 grams each), roll it in your hands as if it were a meatball that you then elongate pressing it forward. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the balls spread apart on the sheet. With the rest of the powdered sugar, dust the cookies well: if you have enough time, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rest overnight. Bake them in a 180 degree Celsius oven for 6-7 minutes if you like them soft, otherwise bake them for 10-12 minutes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Elizabeth Berg's Cooking & Writing Positano, Amalfi Coast

Elizabeth Berg has arrived in Positano, Italy!!!!

All the women have started to arrive for this extraordinary Literati Culinary & Cooking Week.  We will be hands-on cooking and most importantly sharing the art of writing in this exclusive Writers’ Studio which includes hands-on cooking classes too. Elizabeth, as you know, loves to cook!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Recipe From Our Garden

Italian Pumpkins

Paccheri Con Zucca~ Paccheri Pasta With Pumpkin
Courtesy of Chef Raffaele, Positano
Serves 4

500 g Pumpkin (sliced or cubed)
1 Garlic clove, minced
½ Onion, diced
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Sprig of Rosemary
Salt, Pepper, and Fresh Basil, to taste
Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
400 g of Paccheri Pasta
*(when boiling pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta water for later use)

Sauté the garlic, onion, basil (reserve some for later), rosemary in olive oil.

Add the pumpkin and allow to sauté a few minutes then add about ¼ cup of reserved pasta water and allow to cook about 15-20 minutes, adding more pasta water as necessary, until sauce becomes creamy.

Cook paccheri in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Add the paccheri to the pumpkin sauce. Add fresh Parmesan cheese and sauté together for a moment. Serve with fresh basil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano, as desired.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

From my Grandmother's home town of Pico, Italy Fettuccine con Scampi e Gamberoni ~ Fettuccine with Shrimp and Prawns
Serves 4

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
8 fresh Prawns and 8 Shrimp
Salt and Pepper
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
14 oz. of homemade Fettuccine
Crushed Red Chili Pepper

Boil water for pasta.

Place a skillet on the stove heat the oil with the garlic. Add shrimp and prawns, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, remove the garlic and add the chopped tomatoes, cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, when ready transfer to the pan with the sauce. Lightly sauté and serve immediately with a sprinkle of parsley.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cooking Up Summer Zucchini

Cooking Up Summer Zucchini
Mamma Marie Lucia’s
Paccheri Con Zucchine
Paccheri Pasta With Zucchini
Serves 4

4 Zucchini
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
½ cup Pecorino cheese
4 tablespoons of extra virgin first-cold-pressed olive oil
3 oz heavy cream
1 small pat of unsalted butter
1 Onion
Fresh Basil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
14 oz Paccheri Pasta
1 small red chili pepper

Wash and wipe the zucchini. Slice the zucchini into rounds keeping them about ¼ inch thick. In a frying pan, warm up olive oil and add the thinly sliced onion and one small red chili pepper. After a couple of minutes, add a little water in the pan. Sauté until soft. Add a small pat of butter and once cooked you can turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the Paccheri pasta in a generous pan of boiling water, salt to taste, until al dente.
As the pasta cooks, keep a cup of pasta water, you will use later. As the pasta is almost done, turn on the zucchini and add the 3 to 4 ounces of heavy cream. Drain the pasta and put into the pan with the zucchini. Add the grated Parmigiano and Pecorino and gently stir together. You can add little pasta water, about ¼ to ½ cup if the sauce is too thick and to loosen the mixture. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Monday, July 22, 2013

RECIPE: Pasta With Pesto

Courtesy of Le Tre Sorelle, Positano 

2 cloves Garlic
60 g Pine nuts
1 Bunch Fresh Basil, leaves only, not stems
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100 g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
100 g Pecorino, grated
Salt, to taste
400 g Fresine, or other thin long pasta 

Prepare the pesto either with a mortar and pestle or in a blender/food processor.  First blend together the garlic and pine nuts.  Add the washed basil little by little and a bit of olive oil.  Next, add the grated cheeses and blend.  With the blender on, add the remaining olive oil slowly. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Add the pasta with the pesto sauce and toss together for a moment to combine, then serve. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Read All About Us & Get Cooking On The Amalfi Coast!

"A week of cooking classes around Italy's pleasure-loving hill town of Positano delivers a primer on pastas and pastries-and an abiding enthusiasm for living large."
-Elizabeth Berg

For the full article CLICK HERE!

Happy Cooking from all of us at Cooking Vacations!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Food & Love In Florence

In the latest issue of Tastes of Italia we hop across the Arno River in Florence to meet Chiara Masiero, 3rd generation owner of restaurant Trattoria Cammillo. A must stop for traditional Florentine specialties.

For Lauren's full article and recipes from Trattoria Cammillo visit our Tastes of Italia page...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Note From Michele McPhee...

Michele McPhee is the author of several best-selling books, Emmy-nominated investigative reporter and award-winning columnist...but as she shares in the following story, it didn't all happen overnight. Learn from her inspiring tale and on June 22 to 27 join her and writers like you in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Positano, Italy - let Michele give you the tools to navigate the publishing world like a pro. You're not alone...take the plunge!

My Positano  
By Michele McPhee 

His voice was as sweet as the summer night. His hand grabbed mine and pulled me just enough so my eyes met his.  "In bocca al lupo,'' the stranger whispered as his lips brushed my cheek. 

The stranger's whisper is one of my greatest memories of Positano, Italy, the remarkably romantic city with so much to remember - clams in spaghetti vongole sweet as plums, people living their lives as passionately as play actors, views so luscious I fear a blink might make it all disappear - it's amazing that I could recall his words at all. 

Perhaps the words stayed with me because of the splendid setting in which the phrase was uttered. But the writer in me believes it was the translation that left the brief encounter emblazoned in my mind. 

In bocca al lupo literally means go into the mouth of the wolf.

You want me to go into the mouth of the wolf? Get my head eaten by a beast? What? 

Who is the writer who used such potentially dangerous, dramatic imagery like that?  
Even now every time I hear an American say "break a leg" I wince at its lack of beauty.    

These are the questions that help make me a writer, an investigative journalist, a poet, an artist. It is visiting places like Positano that give me inspiration. It is the company of other writers that sparks the real magic.

I got my first book published by accident.  

I was stuck in my identity as a crime reporter. Just a crime reporter.

Sure, I was dogged, willing to go anywhere and do almost anything for a scoop, and have built up an impressive slew of cocktail party stories like I snuck into John Gotti's wake in Queens, New York. I got whacked by a woman wielding a patent leather purse in London after Princess Diana's untimely death and I posed as a mob moll with an undercover NYPD detective targeting fight fixing in Las Vegas. I was at the scene of the largest mass murder in our country's history: the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers that killed 2,996 people and wrote about the 343 firefighters; 23 NYPD cops and 37 Port Authority police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while rescuing the tens of thousands who survived that terrible day.    

But it was the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace that helped me get that acci  dental book deal. I was sent to South Beach, Miami by the New York Daily News hours after Versace was killed going into his beachfront home. His blood still stained his marble steps when I arrived; his killer still on the loose. When spree killer Andrew Cunanan was finally found dead in a Miami houseboat, I interviewed the owner of a nightclub where Versace had spent his last hours. That club owner was Chris Paciello. And his name would cross my desk years later on an indictment that listed mobsters charged with racketeering, extortion, assault, and murder.

It turned out that Paciello, who had dated Madonna  and Sofia Vergara of Modern family, was in fact a killer on the run from his past. My coverage in the Daily News led to a magazine story in Maxim. That Maxim piece got me a call from an agent. The agent asked me to write a book proposal. I had no idea how. So I bought a book, "How To Write A Book Proposal" and followed the directions.

To my amazement, I got a deal. The four other crime books I have written were not as easy, believe me, but the experiences have given me insight into the secret world of publishing. And my Writers' Studio will reveal those secrets to save you a lot of heartache.

So, brave fellow writers, I urge you all to go into the mouth of the take a chance, invest in yourself and your inner artist, to write every day in the most beautiful place on the planet. You can be an accidental author too.

Michele McPhee 
Positano, Italy~ June 22 to 27

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