Tomato Machines – Mariella’s Summertime Tradition

Summer holds so many great food memories from my childhood in Italy. One of my favorites is the smell and taste of a ripe tomato right off the vine. Everyone in our town had a vegetable garden, and no matter its size, there were always lots of tomato plants. After all, the gravy (sauce) that we canned had to last for a whole year of pasta meals.

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Nonna Assunta with her baby, our Mamma Antonietta

My nonna loved to harvest the plum tomatoes. She cut them in half, squeezed the seeds and liquid out, sprinkled them with salt and placed them on a white sheet in the sun to dry. While helping nonna, I got to taste them as they grew progressively dryer and more intense in flavor. Yum!

My mom did the rest of the work with the tomatoes. She blanched them and ran them through a food mill to remove the skin and seeds, and then put them in jars. It was a time consuming task that was repeated a number of times during tomato season, and well worth it.

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide

As lovers of all things cooking and baking, we each have a list of dream gifts we would love to receive for our kitchens! This week, our team tells you about their most coveted gift in the store, without budget limitations. (For our 2016 picks under $50, see last week’s blog post here.)

Finex 12” Covered Skilletbm2016
$269.99

This beautiful piece of artisan cookware is put together by hand in Portland, OR. The attention to quality detail makes this piece stand out from other cast iron cookware. The smoothly machined surface resists sticking and is easy to clean. The heaviness of the skillet allows for even heating, and its coil handle stays cool to the touch while cooking. A must have piece for the artisan foodie in your life!

Brian

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide – Under $50

We make it easy to find the perfect gift for the foodie in your life! Our team each chose a favorite item under $50 to gift or be gifted for the 2016 holiday season.

Oggi Copper Plated Cocktail Shaker50aw2016
$24.99

No home bar is complete without a good cocktail shaker. I love this shaker because it lets people know I’m serious about my cocktails, while throwing in just a little bit of style.

Antoine

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In Vino Veritas: The Truth About Homemade Wine

Jules EspositoIn South Philadelphia, bottles of homemade wine flow freely as hostess gifts and gracious thank yous from friends and family. Most of them have three things in common:

  1. The gifter thinks highly of you to share their precious stash.
  2. You must be incredibly grateful for their generous gift and enjoy it, or at least pretend to love it.
  3. It will almost certainly be more palatable as salad dressing than wine.

Jules Esposito, Jr. is determined to change the perception that homemade wine is nothing more than glorified vinegar. Jules is our cousin, and far from the average twenty-something. By day, he works alongside his family at Esposito’s Porchetta (1627 S. 10th St., Philadelphia, PA 19148). You may have enjoyed their sandwiches at any number of festivals in the area. In his free time, he crafts delicious homemade wines. Read the rest of this entry »


Fante’s Granita

Granita thequeenvillagerGleeful squeals coming from the coffee bar are a sure indication that Fante’s Granita is back in season! This homemade specialty is pined for year-round, and not a day goes by that someone doesn’t request it. Alas, Granita season is short lived – from the Italian Market Festival in May until the weather cools in the fall. But fear not… we have crafted a copycat recipe so that you can enjoy a similar Granita treat at home, anytime you choose. Read the rest of this entry »


We All Scream for Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake SliceIs there any type of dessert that makes you feel more like a kid than ice cream? Perhaps a wonderfully delicious ice cream cake?

Lucky for us, basic ice cream cakes are easy to find in grocery stores. However, once you begin customizing flavor combinations at specialty ice cream shops, the prices rise rapidly. Customized ice cream cakes are simple to make. You can let your creativity flow with your choices of ice creams, fillings and toppings. Purchase some items pre-made, make them all from scratch or use a combination. The result will be delicious, unique, and refreshing! Read the rest of this entry »


Spring has Sprung and it’s Time for Fruit Tarts!

Fresh FruitIs there anything better than a beautiful fruit tart full of fresh, seasonal fruit? Well, maybe just that delicious buttery crust that can become the vessel for the fruit.

Tarts are relatively simple to make, and can have a dramatic presentation on your dessert table. The secret to a perfect fruit tart is to wash and strain your fruit in a colander, and then to pat it dry with a towel to remove any extra liquid in the fruit.

We are going to take you step by step through two tart recipes that are perfect for spring. And remember, tarts are playful and fun! Feel free to use either crust and filling together, and any of your favorite fruits and jellies to glaze. Read the rest of this entry »