A Twist on Fruit Cake: Pan del Marinaio (Sailor’s bread)

Pan del marinaio1 Fruit cakes are synonymous with Christmas and ever since my mom sent me Carol Field’s ‘The Italian Baker’ I’ve had my eye on the ‘festive’ breads section.  There are a number of recipes for holiday sweet breads in it, including…fruit breads.  While thumbing through it the other day I came across a fruit filled bread recipe from Genoa: pan del marinaio, or sailor’s bread.  I don’t think it is particularly a Christmas bread but it looked to be a nice twist on the traditional fruit cake. (more…)


Apple Onion Chutney and Canning for the First Time

Apple Onion ChutneySo I’ve been making good use of the smoker this summer and one thing I feel you always need when barbecuing is a good sauce to accompany the meat.  Steaks have marinades and chimichurri but one condiment which I think goes great with cured and smoked meats is this apple onion chutney.  (more…)

The Best Raisin Bread Ever! Pan Tramvai!

The Best Raisin BreadI know, I know, not another bread recipe so soon.  But seriously, this has to be the best raisin bread you can make.  It is so chock full of raisins the dough can barely contain them.  How chock full?  Well the amount of raisins in the bread is equal to the amount of flour used.  This Pan Tramvai (or Pane all’Uva) isn’t going to last long in our house! (more…)

Couscous Salad (don’t worry, summer’s almost over)

Ok, back to summer salads!  This particular couscous salad is Cheryl’s favorite.  I’m not sure if there’s a special ingredient in it she really likes or if it’s the combination of everything, but whatever it is she gets very happy when I make it.  As with most of my summer creations, this couscous salad is very easy to make, can be made ahead, and is perfect for hot evenings when you don’t want to do much cooking. (more…)

Strudel – The Old Fashioned Way!

Way back in October Cheryl and I attended a hands-on strudel making demonstration at Dank Haus (German-American cultural center here in Chicago).  When we lived in Washington DC Cheryl used to get strudel from Heidelberg Pastry Shop in Arlington (they’d also have grilled sausages on the weekends which were great after my men’s league soccer matches) so we decided to see how to make it firsthand.  At the demo we made apple, sweet potato, cheese, and butternut squash strudels.  The tricky part, of course, is the dough.  You’ve got to get it paper-thin without tearing.  I was really intrigued by this demo since I’d heard stories of my Hungarian great-grandmother making strudel and how she’d spread a huge cloth on the dining room table, flour it, and pull the dough out in a huge sheet.  The demo was great and I’m keeping my eye on their event list because they also have a sausage making demo over the winter.  (more…)