The Only Italian Christmas Cookies Recipe You Need

The Only Italian Christmas Cookies Recipe You Need

When it comes to authentic Italian cooking, you can’t do any better than going to the source itself – an Italian grandma! So it’s no wonder that we love the site Cooking With Nonna, filled with delicious Italian recipes straight from the kitchens of Italian grandmothers.

Cooking With Nonna’s mission is “Sharing Grandma’s Italian recipes with the new generations”, and we love the idea. From appetizers to entrees, lunches to dinners to desserts, the site features some great Italian classics and modern spins on your favorite old-world Italian dishes.

You MUST try this almond coffee Italian Christmas cookie recipe. (Photo credit: Cooking with Nonna)
You MUST try this almond coffee Italian Christmas cookie recipe. (Photo credit: Cooking with Nonna)

Cooking With Nonna is the creation of Rossella and Vito Rago. Rossella travels to the kitchens of grandmothers from all regions of Italy, bringing you the greatest recipes (and secret family recipes!) from all over Italy.

This recipe for Almond Coffee Cookies is one of our all-time favorites, and will be one of the recipes that we use when they make Christmas cookies this year. We’re looking forward to taking it to our parent company Peter Salerno Inc.’s flagship showroom and making another batch myself!

Try it out for yourself, and see how these amazing flavors combine in your mouth for a beautiful Italian holiday dessert experience.

Italian Christmas Cookie Recipe: Almond Coffee Cookies (from Cooking With Nonna)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb Almonds
  • 1/2 Lb Sugar
  • Zest of 2 medium lemons
  • 3 Egg whites
  • 1 Tbs Espresso Ground Coffee
  • 2 Tbs Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar for glazing (put it in a flat plate for rolling)
  • 50 Whole coffee beans

Preparation:

  • To prepare the paste, boil the almonds and remove the peel. Once they are cold and somewhat dry, put them in a food processor or a blender and chop them finely.
  • Put the chopped almonds in a bowl, add the zest of the two lemons, the sugar, the ground coffee and the cocoa powder.  Mix everything very well.
  • Add the egg whites and mix until the egg whites dilute the sugar and the mixture becomes a paste.
  • Take a lump of mixture in your hand, roll it into a ball the size slightly smaller than a golf ball.
  • Roll the ball completely into the sugar and place it on a baking sheet.
  • Slightly insert a coffee bean on top of each cookie.
  • Roll all your cookies and bake them for 30 mins. at 350F.

See more by clicking on this link and visiting Cooking With Nonna!

Will YOU Accept Our 2019 Thanksgiving Food Bank Challenge?

Will YOU Accept Our 2019 Thanksgiving Food Bank Challenge?

One look at the hashtag #FoodBankChallenge on Twitter, and you’ll see how dire the situation has gotten for many of our food banks. Around the world, food banks are woefully depleted of basic and necessary supplies. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is a food shortage that we need to try and correct!

The task seems daunting – but if each of us focuses on our local food banks and pantries, the mission becomes easier to manage. It all starts with finding your local food bank – our favorite resource is the Feeding America locator.

Will you take Peter Salerno Inc.'s #FoodBankChallenge?
Will you take Peter Salerno Inc.’s #FoodBankChallenge?

For years, our parent company Peter Salerno Inc. has pledged to donate no less than 75 turkeys every Thanksgiving season to its local food bank – the St. Andrew’s Parish Food Pantry in Westwood, NJ. St. Andrew’s is a spiritual home for Peter Salerno and his family, where Peter’s children Anthony and Gabrielle were both married.

This isn’t a statement to ‘prop ourselves up’. When broken down amongst several members of a work team, the cost of 75 turkeys isn’t that massive – and the ability to provide enough Thanksgiving main courses for over 1,000 people (1 person fed per pound of turkey) is a number that will change an entire community for the better.

Peter Salerno's staff delivering Thanksgiving turkeys to St. Andrew's Church.
Will you take Peter Salerno Inc.’s #FoodBankChallenge?

If you’re focusing on turkey, remember that simple calculation – 1 pound of turkey feeds 1 person. If you donate a 16 lb. turkey, a food pantry can feed roughly 16 people.

If your focus extends past Thanksgiving, non-perishable and shelf-stable items are your target.What food items are pantries and food banks most in need of this Thanksgiving season? According to Feeding America, these are the six most requested shelf-stable items by food banks during the fall months:

•    Boxed stuffing
•    Instant mashed potatoes
•    Canned vegetables
•    Dry macaroni
•    Cranberry sauce
•    Canned Pumpkin

What can YOU do to take steps to assist those in need and give back this Thanksgiving season? According to Peter Salerno, it’s all about targeted giving.

“Instead of helping dozens of charities, choose two or three that resonate with you to maximize your effectiveness,” Peter encourages. “Imagine how much better a world (we’d have) if everyone who could, would take action.”

Keep in touch with us – and the movement – using #FoodBankChallenge on Twitter. Let us know how you’re helping give back this Thanksgiving season!

Our Favorite Epicurious 2019 Labor Day Recipes

Our Favorite Epicurious 2019 Labor Day Recipes

Labor Day is about food, fun and family. While you’re taking a much-deserved break from the daily grind of work, there’s nothing better than a great meal or two to punctuate a relaxing Labor Day weekend.

As usual, we’re leaning heavily on the expertise of Epicurious, one of the web’s pre-eminent food and recipe sites, to fill our Labor Day table. The recent release of Epicurious’ article “49 Low-Fuss Labor Day Recipes” provides a great deal of inspiration!

Check out Epicurious' 2019 Labor Day Recipes
Check out Epicurious’ 2019 Labor Day Recipes!

Even the most avid “foodie” isn’t going to eat 49 meals on Labor Day weekend – even though you may feel as though you did eat that much by Monday night! We’ve read up on all 49 of Epicurious’ Labor Day recipe selections, and narrowed the list down to a few options we think deserve to be on your lunch or dinner table during the long weekend.

Let’s look at 5 of our favorite selections from this year’s Epicurious Labor Day “food playlist” and we’ll tell you why they deserve the attention of your taste buds!

The Best Epicurious 2019 Labor Day Recipes

1. Smash Burger Alfresco

This double-stack take on classic Labor Day fare is the perfect place to begin our list. Two grilled 3-oz. patties start this fulfilling burger, and a special sauce punctuated with adobo and finely chopped pickles adds a jazzy punch that separates this burger from the standard.

2. Honeydew Salad with Ginger Dressing and Peanuts

One of the most surprising and appetizing entries on Epicurious’ Labor Day recipe list, this honeydew salad is full of contrast and unexpected flavors. What begins as a cold, fresh melon salad quickly becomes captivating with the heat of serrano pepper, spice of ginger and intriguing flavor of Persian cucumbers. What begins as a monochromatic all-green salad bowl ends up being a flavorful, fulfilling salad that kept us coming back for more.

3. Grilled Whole Eggplant with Harissa Vinaigrette

While this dish is listed as an appetizer, you may find yourself eating the whole thing and turning this delicious eggplant into an entree. The direction to grill the eggplant directly on the dying coals of your grill is audacious and guaranteed a smoky, charred flavor. This recipe’s harissa vinaigrette is one of the simplest we’ve made in awhile, and is quite delicious.

4. Grilled Whole Cauliflower with Miso Mayo

The grilled veggie trend continues with this spicy cauliflower recipe. Basting the cauliflower with spicy butter gives it a unique orange color, and serving it over a tangy miso mayo adds an extra satisfying punch. This is another dish that can serve as an appetizer or a main course. Like the eggplant offering above, it’s a filling enough offering to satisfy any vegetarian guests at your dinner table.

5. Strawberry-Rose Agua Fresca

Looking for the perfect drink to cap off your Labor Day meal? This refreshing berry-filled beverage reaches new heights with the unexpected flavors of rose water and agave nectar. Epicurious lists the rose water as optional; we’ve tried it both ways and think that it makes all the difference. You can spike this drink and make it a cocktail, but the non-alcoholic version provided is pretty perfect as is.

To read the entire Epicurious “49 Low-Fuss Labor Day Recipes” article, click here.

Summer Food Trend Alert: Beat the Heat With Chilled Soup Recipes

Summer Food Trend Alert: Beat the Heat With Chilled Soup Recipes

When our most trusted recipe sources start producing mass quantities of chilled soup and cold soup recipes, we take notice.

The last few days have been blazing hot in our area (the NYC/Tri-State region), with the heat index approaching 120 degrees. For food lovers, eating a hot meal in oppressive heat can be uncomfortable. Cold drinks don’t provide enough nourishment, and cold meals don’t offer enough refreshment.

The answer, according to Epicurious and other recipe experts, is cold soups.

Gazpacho cold soup recipe
Find delicious cold soup and chilled soup recipes to beat the summer heat.

We’re not just talking about gazpacho! There are some extraordinary chilled soup recipes available, with inventive minds designing new additions to the cold soup cookbook. It’s no surprise that – once again – some of our favorite selections come courtesy of Epicurious.

Epicurious’ recent list of 34 Cold Soup Recipes to Keep You Cool This Summer features no less than a half-dozen recipes we’re instantly enamored with. From a cool AND filling Chilled Coconut Corn Soup to a guacamole-inspired Chilled Avocado and Yogurt Soup with Tomato Salsa, there are plenty of savory options that will leave even the biggest appetites fulfilled.

If your idea of chilled soup on a hot day involves lighter fare, we love the intriguing Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit recipe, as well as a Chilled Golden Tomato Bisque that requires zero cooking!

We won’t post the full Epicurious recipes here (we’re not big on plagiarism… ha!), but here are links to six of our favorite Epicurious chilled soup recipes, along with brief descriptions of each.

Try them all, and leave us a comment about the one you love most!

Links to Our Favorite Epicurious Cold Soup Recipes

1. Chilled Coconut Corn Soup

Possibly our favorite cold soup recipe on Epicurious’ list; this fulfilling soup comes stocked with corn, potatoes and onion. Coconut milk, ginger, turmeric and lime zest finish off a bright and satisfying recipe that we will be making again.

2. Cool Jade Soup

Currently holding a 100% “Make Again” rating on Epicurious, this Cool Jade Soup offering is inspired bissara, an Egyptian bean-and-herb purée. The mix of green and lima beans blends well with mint, parsley and other herbs to create a refreshing cold soup.

3. Chilled Tomato and Stone Fruit Soup

We were a bit skeptical about this recipe to start. It looked precisely like a normal gazpacho… until the stone fruit came into play. Peach and cherry ingredients give this gazpacho base a surprising – and very enjoyable – sweetness that kept us dipping our spoons into our bowls.

Cold soup recipe
Try these chilled soup recipes to cool off during a hot summer.

4. Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

Much like the Stone Fruit recipe above, we start with a gazpacho inspiration and venture off into inspired fruit-based territory. According to original author and recipe creator Susan Spungen, the key is a super-juicy, heavy watermelon.

5. Chilled Golden Tomato Bisque

This no-cook recipe is the height of ease; we found the final result every bit as enjoyable as the short prep period. The notes of sherry and mild honey are small but pop beautifully out of the heavy bisque broth, giving a sweet touch to a savory soup.

6. Lemongrass-Ginger-Carrot Soup

In terms of visual presentation, this soup might have the most beautiful color of any on the list. The mellow gold color of this chilled soup is due to carrots and ginger, and a healthy dose of chicken bone broth adds texture. Feel free to try this one hot as well.

Our Updated Guide to World-Class Grilling | Expert Grill Tips

Our Updated Guide to World-Class Grilling | Expert Grill Tips

When you’re a branch of the most award-winning custom kitchen design firm of the 21st century, the way you cook is very important. And when summer at the shore is your favorite time (and place) of the year, “getting your grill game” up to par is a must!

5 steps to becoming a better grill cook this summer! (Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)
5 steps to becoming a better grill cook this summer! (Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)

Making the leap from “throwing a few things on the barbecue” to becoming a grill master seems daunting. But like any journey worth taking, you shouldn’t look at it as a “leap” at all. Every skill is learned and mastered over the course of thousands of baby steps. It’s the same lifelong process that led Peter Salerno (CMKBD) to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a master craftsman and artisan. From his father’s cabinetry business in Sicily to Peter’s award-winning custom design firm in America, Peter’s journey to becoming a master wouldn’t have happened if his father hadn’t taken the first step so many years ago.

Using the Salerno backstory as inspiration, let’s break the journey to becoming a grill expert into smaller steps and look at what YOU can do to become a better grill cook this summer!

Expert Grilling Step 1: The Proper Grill

Peter Salerno is an avid grill enthusiast, with stellar grill equipment at his home, beach house, and award-winning showroom in Wyckoff, New Jersey. From Weber grills to Miele grill tops to La Cornue rotisseries, Peter understands that world-class grilling begins with world-class grill appliances.

Regardless of your budget, there is generally a ‘best option’ at most price points for grill hardware. Whether you choose gas, charcoal or pellet is entirely up to you and your personal taste; there are reputable reviews and ratings of every style readily available online. But whether you inevitably choose Weber, NexGrill, Kenmore or another brand, the type of grill is every bit as important as the brand.

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Happy Birthday Peter! #champagne

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You’re going to get a much different taste experience off a pellet grill, for example, than you would off charcoal. That doesn’t make one better than the other; it’s simply about your preference. Do you like the woodsier taste a pellet grill may provide, or the traditional smoke of a charcoal grill? Do you prefer the clean efficiency of a gas grill? There is no right answer to those questions – the only “correct” answer is what suits you best.

Each type of grill brings its own perks and its own unique cleaning and maintenance regimen; make sure you read up on these as well!

Expert Grilling Step 2: The Proper Ingredients

All else being equal, a great steak is going to taste better than a mediocre one. (Obviously, you can foul up a great steak as easily as a poor one, but let’s focus on the upside here!)

There really isn’t a ton to say here. It’s worth buying better quality raw ingredients. Spring for the fresher, in-season vegetables. Spend a few more dollars on the right cut of meat, or the higher-quality seasoning.

Expert Grilling Step 3: The Proper Technique

Learning how to grill properly is the most intimidating step in this process; don’t be scared! The Internet has made the journey from novice to expert grill cook so much simpler.

Start with the Epicurious Guide to GrillingWe love it. It’s a soup-to-nuts (or in this case, burger-to-chop) guide to grilling techniques and ingredients, from some of the best amateur and professional grillmasters today.

Get yourself a great Bluetooth or WiFi thermometer. Seriously. There are some amazing Bluetooth applications out there that gauge the temperature of your grill AND the internal temperate of what you’re grilling. Whether you’re cooking with the grill top open or closed, you can monitor the process of your meal no matter where you are. Gone are the days when you had to hover over your grill like a vulture, out of fear you’ve over-cooked!

We love the Weber iGrill 2 Bluetooth Thermometer; unless you’re on a smaller budget, it’s currently our favorite product on the market. If you’re looking for a WiFi-based alternative rather than connecting to Bluetooth, we suggest the ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Meat Thermometer

Expert Grilling Step 4: The Proper Accompaniments + Sides

Don’t just slather a ton of sauce on your beautifully grilled meat, vegetables or vegan substitutes! The right sides, dressings, dips and garnishes can make or break your summer grill meals.

We found an awesome treasure trove of Grilling Dips & Sauces courtesy of Patricia C. Wilson. We strongly encourage you to jump over to Patricia’s site and take a look at her grilling dips and sauces; there are some really unique, simple preparations that are going to ‘wow’ your dinner guests!

There’s also a wonderful piece on the Williams-Sonoma blog courtesy of their Test Kitchen chef, Belle English. Belle encourages us to “just buy the sauce or rub” – sometimes, there’s no reason to over-think the process! Belle does go on to provide some highly valuable advice on what sauces and rubs to pair with different types of meats, and how to incorporate them into your meal’s preparation.

Expert Grilling Step 5: The Proper Company

Well-prepared food is like any beautiful creation; it’s best when shared with others and consumed by people who will appreciate it! Expert grilling is meant to be shared with family, friends and loved ones.

So now that you’ve taken the first steps to improving your “grill skills”, it’s time to gather the people you care for around a big table, spread out some big family-style dishware, and have a summer grill celebration to remember!

May 9th is National Moscato Day: Our Favorite Moscatos

May 9th is National Moscato Day: Our Favorite Moscatos

Ah, Moscato. Perhaps no other beverage has created such divisive opinions within the community of wine aficionados as the product of the Muscat grape. Although the classic Moscato D’Anti originated in Italy, derivatives and clones of the Muscat grape are now grown from Oregon to New Zealand as demand for the fruity wine soars.

The Gallo Family created National Moscato Day in 2012 to celebrate the light, sparkling sipping wine that’s taken dinner tables, wine wholesalers and liquor stores by storm over recent years.

A fresh bunch of Moscato Bianco grapes, just in time for National Moscato Day! (Credit: Wiki Commons)
A fresh bunch of Moscato Bianco grapes, just in time for National Moscato Day!

Like it or not, the Moscato craze appears here to stay! But which Moscato wines are really worth drinking?

If you’re a lover of Moscato wines – be they Orange Muscat, Muscat Blanc or Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains – then May 9th is bound to be one of your favorite days of spring. But celebrating May 9th (National Moscato Day) in style isn’t quite as simple as picking up a pedestrian bottle of the fizzy wine.

As Richard Jennings, author of over 45,000 tasting notes, once noted:

America’s in the midst of a much bigger wine phenomenon than the sudden upswing in Pinot Noir sales following the 2004 release of the movie Sideways. Sales of slightly sparkling sweet wines with underlying acidity made from the Muscat grape have exploded over the past two years among younger buyers, especially Millennials — the 21 to 30 age group.

Some of these wines, especially from Italy’s Asti region, are terrific. Others, produced by huge wine conglomerates on an industrial basis looking to cash in on the latest trend, are truly dreadful.

So this National Moscato Day, how can you tell which Muscat to enjoy in your dining room, sitting room or custom wine cellar?

Imagine the custom wine cellar of your dreams. Peter Salerno makes it. (Credit Peter Salerno Inc.)
Imagine the custom wine cellar of your dreams. Peter Salerno makes it. (Credit Peter Salerno Inc.)

Here’s a great, short list of fabulous Moscatos to enjoy May 9th (or any day)!

Best Moscatos to Enjoy on National Moscato Day

1. Borgo Maragliano La Caliera Moscato D’Asti, 2014 (Italy)

At between $12-16 a bottle at most retailers, La Caliera is our favorite Italian Moscato D’Asti when it comes to a combination of taste and price. While each edition from 2013-2016 is a real winner, our selection is the 2014 vintage, full of green grape, pear and yet not overly sweet. This Borgo Maragliano Moscato D’Asti is a great pair with most desserts (even chocolate!).

The winemaker describes La Caliera as carrying a “fragrance of candied fruit, acacia flowers and a typical musky but delicate bouquet”.

2. Foris Moscato, 2013 (Rogue Valley)

Foris is a great Oregon-based brand that has a knack for versatile, light Moscato. 2013 is our favorite (2012 and 2016 aren’t half-bad either) for its low alcohol content and intriguing citrus quality. Rated an 87 by Wine Enthusiast, we also love Foris for use in mimosas and other wine-mix beverages – primarily due to the low alcohol content and orange flavor we mentioned.

At a price tag of roughly $15-17 per bottle, this is an affordable, enjoyable Moscato.

Custom wine cellar from Peter Salerno Inc. Man Cave Classics.
Custom wine cellar from Peter Salerno Inc. Man Cave Classics.

3. Stemmari Moscato, 2013 (Terre Siciliane)

This beautiful pale yellow Moscato sits neatly at 8.5% ABV and, unlike many Moscatos, serves exceptionally well as an aperitif rather than a dessert wine. Like its Foris counterpart, the 2013 vintage is exceptional, garnering a rating of 90 at the Ultimate Wine Challenge. (The 2012 is also excellent, receiving a score of 86 from Wine Enthusiast.)

Sweeter than some of its counterparts, you’ll also find the price tag a bit sweeter as well – retail average for this bottle is just about $10. If you feel like venturing out of the Asti region and into Sicily, you’ll be highly satisfied with this effort from Stemmari.

Food Inspires Design | 5 WordPress Food Blogs We Follow + Love

Food Inspires Design | 5 WordPress Food Blogs We Follow + Love

The best kitchen designs are inspired by the food created within them.

Food is a muse for master chefs, avid home cooks and hobbyists alike – but it’s also an inspiration for kitchen design experts the world over. Peter Salerno (owner of Peter Salerno Inc., our parent company) is not only an award-winning international custom kitchen designer, but an avid cook and food connoisseur. (Peter’s first cookbook, complete with expert wine pairings, is due out later in 2019.)

Peter Salerno's pumpkin fettucine with creamy sausage sauce.
Peter Salerno’s pumpkin fettucine with creamy sausage sauce.

“It’s important for a kitchen to be as functional as it is luxurious,” Peter explained to us in a recent meeting. “If its owners don’t get a fantastic cooking experience out of their kitchen, then who cares how beautiful it is?”

In order to stay inspired by food, we keep a close eye on some of WordPress’ finest food, recipe and cooking sites. Some are well-traveled, while some are wonderful hidden gems in the deep and varied ocean of food blogs and online recipe collections.

5 WordPress Food Blogs We Follow + Love

Polenta & Baccala

Oh, how we love this gem of a website. Polenta & Baccala (stylized polenta e baccala) is an invitation to cook with Graziano, who creates authentic Italian recipes coupled with marvelous photography and detailed preparation instruction. Besides the rich content and beautiful photography, the blog is presented on a visually stimulating layout.

There’s no guesswork needed with the recipes at Polenta & Baccala. From preview to preparation, creation to consumption, Graziano provides the perfect “map” to all his dishes to cooks of any experience level. Couple this with Graziano’s photography expertise and his very real credentials (a native northern Italian now living in Hungary), and we promise you’ll be spending plenty of time perusing polenta e baccala for recipes and food inspiration.

Homemade mozzarella from Peter Salerno's kitchen.
Homemade mozzarella from Peter Salerno’s kitchen.

Cooking With a Wallflower

It’s important to remember that self-expression comes in all forms. While the statement one can make with food is loud, often the person preparing these artistically resounding meals is quite introverted. Such is the case with Cooking With a Wallflower, a charming (and delicious) blog run by Andrea, a dental hygienist with a passion for food.

We enjoy Andrea’s perspective on food, and creating a fulfilling work-life balance between her occupation and her passion for cuisine. Cooking With a Wallflower offers a highly pleasing blend of recipes and life experiences, which reminds us that the heart and soul of every kitchen is the person who uses it.

In Diane’s Kitchen

In Diane’s Kitchen is so appealing because it’s so real. Recipes are constructed with real life in mind. “What to do with those holiday leftovers?” “How can I make that recipe I saw on TV with the modest kitchen accessories I own?” Diane brings these answers to the table, crafting simple recipes that often provide amazing “bang for the buck” in terms of great rewards with minimal effort and/or skill required.

Websites like In Diane’s Kitchen help keep kitchen inspiration rooted in reality, which is an important aspect of any designer’s process. Like Diane’s recipes, a good kitchen designer knows that ease of use and simple application are of incredible importance in our daily lives.

Peter Salerno's homemade black pepper pappardelle.
Peter Salerno’s homemade black pepper pappardelle.

Foods That Blog

Sometimes, you just want to stare at some pictures of delicious food. For food photography that looks good enough to eat, we turn to Foods That Blog – a place we consider to be source material not only for food trends and food photography, but also design inspiration!

The richness and variety of color and texture in Foods That Blog’s photography can serve as a muse for holistic kitchen design. It’s also helpful to observe what styles and preparations of food are on the rise, as these dishes help signal trends in kitchen appliances and overall kitchen setup.

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes. A simple tagline for a simple, effective blog. Cooking Without Limits pairs a minimalist layout with simple, clean photography and to-the-point recipes to create a user-friendly experience. We love how conversational Cooking Without Limits is; each recipe is an invitation into this cook’s personal kitchen, experiences and tastes.  Every recipe comes with a story, and we love that – after all, your kitchen is where so many of your life’s stories are created!

What is YOUR favorite recipe, cuisine, or food photography blog or website? Leave a link in the comments and tell us why!