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Pesto Bread Twists

December 30, 2015 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

The big New Year’s Eve party is just hours away…and you’re still trying to figure out what appetizer to bring or serve? This easy recipe is a quick and perfect solution. Before I get into the steps, yes you can use your own pizza dough recipe or your own pesto recipe if you wish.  But for a quick time-saving solution, a jarred pesto and pre-made pizza dough will definitely do the trick.

Assuming we’re going the quick route, you’ll need one tube of thin crust square pizza dough, or your favorite pizza dough rolled into a thin square, one jar of pesto and one egg. And that’s it. Seriously! Simply pre-heat your oven to 425˚, follow the steps below, and in under 15 minutes you will have a tasty and zesty appetizer that will be sure to please.



Step 1: roll out the dough, making sure to keep it thin.

Step 1: roll out the dough, making sure to keep it thin.


Step 2: Cut the dough in half, length-wise.

Step 2: Cut the dough in half, length-wise.


Step 3: Top one of the halves with pesto, leaving at least 1/2"border on all four sides.

Step 3: Top one of the halves with pesto, leaving at least 1/2″border on all four sides.


Step 4. Place the second half of the dough on top of the pesto-coated piece.

Step 4. Place the second half of the dough on top of the pesto-coated piece.


Step 5: Cut the layered dough into 1-1/2" wide strips.

Step 5: Cut the layered dough into 1-1/2″ wide strips.


Step 6: Twist the slices, place them onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with an egg wash.

Step 6: Twist the slices, place them onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with an egg wash.


Step 7: Bake in 425˚ oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Serve and enjoy!

Step 7: Bake in 425˚ oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the tops start to brown. Serve and enjoy!






Pancetta Sage Herb Bread

December 4, 2014 Menu No Comments

Home-baked bread is always a nice offering for a dinner party, whether you are hosting or attending one with family or friends. A nice bottle of wine is an easy (and appreciated) fall-back, but when you present a loaf of home-baked bread, it shows that you put a little extra TLC into your thoughts. The recipe for the bread that I am sharing today is perfect for any upcoming holiday gathering, or for a nice Sunday family dinner. I’m using a basic Italian Herb Bread recipe that I found at allrecipes.com, and am adding two of my favorite complementary ingredients….pancetta and fresh sage. The combination of the two add a delicious salty and savory punch to an already flavorful bread. No need to be intimidated if you don’t have much bread-making experience. This recipe is fairly simple and basic, and is a great introduction for those who would like to give bread-making a try.




Pancetta Sage Herb Bread

inspired by a recipe found at allrecipes.com

4 oz diced pancetta (you can often find pre-diced packets in your grocery store)

3 tbspn fresh sage, finely chopped

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast 

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) 

1 tablespoon white sugar 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1/2 teaspoons salt 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder 

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese 

3 cups bread flour


Sauté chopped pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.

Mix yeast, warm water, and white sugar together in a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy.

Stir olive oil, salt, pancetta, sage, garlic powder, onion powder, cheese, and 1-1/2 cups flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix in the remaining flour. Dough will be stiff.

Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and rubbery. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn to cover the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp linen dish towel. Allow to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch dough down to release all the air. Shape into a loaf. Place loaf on a greased cookie sheet, or into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about a 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove loaf from pan, and let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes before slicing.



Easter Wishes: My List of Easter Recipes

Easter week is here once again and I’m sure that many of you, like myself, are preparing to bake the traditional Easter breads and pies. It’s a time of year that I look forward to and take pride in being able to carry on my family’s traditions. Over the past few years, I have shared on this blog many of my family’s traditional recipes. In fact, as I was preparing to write this week’s post, I realized that I have run out of family recipes to share with you. Instead of searching out and sharing a recipe that I am not familiar with, I thought it would be best to simply share all of the links to my previous Easter posts, in case you are looking for a last minute idea for your Easter week family gatherings. Below are a list of all Easter-related links, most of which are from my family’s table, along with a few delicious dishes that were submitted by my friend Emma Caparelli Loerky.

I do, however, have one new item to share with you. My good friend Joe was gracious enough to allow me to share a photo of his Great-Grandmother, Giuseppina Benincasa, flipping her Easter fritatta. This photo was taken at her house on Tulip Street, in the Tacony section of Philadelphia. Everything about this classic photo sums up the love and dedication that so many Italians and Italian-Americans bring to the kitchen, especially during this special time of year. As soon as I first saw this photo, I knew that every one of my readers would enjoy it. Thanks, Joe, for allowing me to share it.

Happy Easter to you and yours!


Giuseppina Benincasa flipping the Easter Fritatta.

Please click on the links below for previous Easter recipes.



Easter Ham Pie




Easter Rice Pie




Mascarpone Cheese Cannoli




Easter Strata




Easter Cheese Bread




Taralli Dolci di Pasqua (Easter Ring Cookies)




Italian Love Cake




Honey Fig Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Crostata




Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs



Easter Cheese Bread

March 31, 2012 Appetizer, Menu 1 Comment

Of all the recipes that I have featured on my blog, this is one that I am most excited to share with you. Not only is it another fine example of an Italian delicacy that is enjoyed during the Easter season, it is also a recipe that I have been searching out for years! A few years back we were visiting our friend at her parents’ house. Her mom, who is from Italy, shared with us an Easter cheese bread that she made. She called it ‘pastiche’ (pronounced pas-teech). It was a savory bread that had cheese baked into the texture, and it was one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever tasted. When I asked if she would share the recipe, she looked at me, smirked and said in her slight broken English, “nah, you can’t make this.” As it turns out, this recipe was a special recipe that came from her home town, and it was something that I figured was just guarded by those who learned how to make it over the years. Honestly, it was like a punch to the gut being told ‘no’.

Never being one that is told that I can’t do something, I spent the next few years searching out the recipe, but with no luck. There were no recipes online for ‘pastiche’, and the most results I would find for a search on Italian cheese bread was for Domino’s bread sticks. Epic fail.

But finally, this year I found a lead. Apparently, our neighbors’ friends, who are also from Italy, make a bread this time of year that they call pastiche. I also found out that they are from Abruzzi. My friend’s parents are from Abruzzi. I begin to think “hey, this is all starting to add up!” I searched out Abruzzi cheese bread and..BINGO! I finally found what I was looking for.

Crescia al formaggio is a traditional savory Umbrian bread that is made during Easter time with various cheeses, specifically grated Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano, along with chunks of a semi-sharp-or sharp cheese (such as provolone or fontina) folded into the dough. Although quite flavorful on its own, it can also be served  during any meal along with eggs, prosciutto and other Italian meats, or even with peppers.

To say that I was happy when I found this recipe would be an understatement. As soon as I read the description and saw a photo online, I knew that I had finally found what I was looking for. And, to my my surprise, there were quite a few variations that I found of this bread. Some were honestly more difficult than others, incorporating home-made cheeses. I now understand why my friend’s mom doubted my skills. But I also found some other less complicated versions. One that specifically intrigued me was at Italian Food Forever. I gave the recipe a try, and it tastes exactly how I remembered. Pure heaven. I reached out to Deborah Mele of the website, and she graciously agreed to allow me to share her recipe here. Thank you very much, Deborah!

But what about the mystery of ‘pastiche’?

Of all the recipes that I found, none of them refer to it as pastiche. I’ve tried various searches over the years on the word (not eve sure if I were spelling it correctly). Nada. I have also since found out that our neighbors friends do not use flour in their recipe. Only eggs and home made cheese. So while theirs may not be the same ‘pastiche’ as I’ve had before, it was enough to lead me to a solution. But finally, after a little deep digging, I did come across one possible answer. According to Wikipedia, pastiche (which aslo means hodge -podge) is the French version of the Greco-Roman dish pastitsio or pasticcio, a kind of pie made of many different ingredients. I guess this is the Easter bread version of the Gravy vs. Sauce argument.

Whatever you choose to call it, definitely add this recipe to your Easter menu.

Buona Pasqua!

Courtesy of Deborah Mele at Italian Food Forever

Yield: 1 Large Loaf

Prep Time: 2 1/2 hrs

Cook Time: 40 mins

A cheese packed bread traditional to Umbria often served with cured meats.


1 3/4 Cup Warm Water
1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
6 Extra Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Coarse Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
2 Cups Grated Pecorino Cheese
8 Cups All-purpose Flour (Or Tipo 0)
8 Ounces Young Pecorino Cheese Cut Into 1/2 Inch Dice


(Note – this recipe calls for a soufflé dish, but I used a spring form pan and it worked fine).

Spray a large soufflé dish with oil, and using a strip of parchment paper, line the top of the dish adding an additional 2 to 3 inches of height.
Add the yeast to the water in a bowl and mix, then let sit 5 minutes until bubbly.
In another bowl, beat first the 6 eggs, then add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated cheese.
Add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
Add half the flour and stir, and then continue to add flour one cup at a time until you create a firm dough that is not too sticky.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand, folding in the diced cheese as you work the dough.
Knead for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has been incorporated into the dough, and the dough is smooth.
Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and let the dough rise until doubled, covered, in a warm spot.
Punch down the dough and form it into a ball and place it into the prepared soufflé dish.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cover the bread with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake the bread for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, remove it from the baking dish and let cool to room temperature before cutting into it.

Adapted From Mary Ann Esposito


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