Tag Archives: liguria

Italian Bread Baking @IICLA

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Kick off summer with another extraordinary cooking class at the  Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles and learn how to make homemade Italian bread and focaccia.



Onion & Cherry Tomato Focaccia (LIGURIA)

Crescione with cheese and spinach (EMILIA-ROMAGNA)

Briosche col Tappo and Granita al Caffè (SICILY)

Save your spot now!

Saturday, July 14th, 2018
10:30 AM – 1 PM
Italian Cultural Institute
1023 Hilgard Avenue – LA 90024
To register:
please call 310-824-7408 or email to classes.iicla@esteri.it  

Torta Pasqualina (Ligurian Easter Pie)


Torta Pasqualina is an Italian savory pie filled with chard or spinach, eggs and ricotta. This is one of Liguria’s iconic dishes  but is prepared throughout the country during the Easter celebrations. The original Pasqualina pie calls for 33 layers of thin dough to represent the 33 years of Jesus.

This is one of the recipes I’ve shared with my foodie students during the Primavera! cooking class at the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles. For this delicious savory pie, I’ve used the outstanding Di Stefano Cheese ricotta, because Italian cuisine is all about the freshest and finest ingredients.

Buona Pasqua …Happy Easter!

Photo by Maurizio “OttO” De Togni

Yields : 8 servings

Difficulty : easy

Prep Time : 20 min.

Cook Time : 30 min.



1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 lb spinach, cooked and chopped

1 egg

10 oz ricotta cheese

½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano

salt and pepper, to taste

2 puff pastry frozen sheets, thawed

3 eggs

1 egg yolk, to brush



Preheat oven at 350 F degrees.

In a large skillet, sauté the garlic clove with butter until golden, then add the spinach and cook for a couple of minutes. Allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, the spinach and 1 egg until well blended. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper if necessary.

Line a 9 inch pie pan with parchment paper.

Roll the thawed puff pastry on a slightly floured work surface then move the puff pastry into the pie pan, trim the excess of puff pastry from the edges with a knife, pinch the pastry with a fork.

Spread evenly the filling into the puff pastry.

With the back of a dinner spoon, make 3 marks into the filling then fill the marks with the eggs.

Lay over the other puff pastry sheet, pinch the edges to seal the pie.

Brush the puff pastry with one beaten egg yolk.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool a bit in its pan before serving.

Chocolate Chips Canestrelli



Canestrelli are traditional old-fashioned Italian shortbread cookies from Piedmont and Liguria regions (Italy). They come flower-shaped and covered with plenty of confectioners’ sugar. The secret for baking authentic Canestrelli is to hard boil the egg yolks. I gave to the traditional recipe a chocolatey twist adding mini-chocolate chips to the cookie dough.
Enjoy these melt-in-your-mouth cookies with a cup of hot tea or a glass of warm milk. They can last up to 10 days if stored properly in an airtight container or in a cookie tin. A great Holiday gift to share with your loved ones.

As always Homemade & Delicious!!!

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Photo by Ale Gambini – BreadLoveAndDreams.com

Yields : 24 cookies

Difficulty : easy

Prep Time : 1 h

Cook Time : 10 mins.

1.5 cups flour type 00
1 cup potato starch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla baking powder
2 egg yolks, hard-boiled
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
powdered sugar, to dust
– Sift together 00 flour, potato starch and vanilla baking powder.
– Press the egg yolks through a mesh strainer then add them to the flour mixture. Set aside.
– Cream the butter and powdered sugar on a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour mixture until a sandy dough forms.
– Gently add the chocolate chips kneading with the hands and shape into a big ball.
– Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
– Preheat oven at 325 F degrees.
– Move the dough over a work surface. Roll the dough 3/8 inch thick and cut out with a flower-shaped cookie cutter, make a little hole in the middle with the back of a pastry bag tip.
– Place the cookies onto a cookie pan lined with parchment paper, two inches apart.
– Bake for 10 minutes (they should be pale, not golden).
– Allow to cool on their pan for a couple of minutes then move on a wire rack.
– Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

Trofie With Barramundi Lemon Sauce

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Have you ever heard about Barramundi fish? Me neither, until my husband bought it at our local Whole Foods by accident. Barramundi AKA Australian Sea Bass is one of the world’s finest eating fish with a succulent, sweet flesh and a very delicate texture. I cooked this precious fish in a lemon sauce and  then I used this fish sauce for tossing Trofie, a traditional short,  twisted pasta from the city of Genova (Liguria region).

Pair this summer dish with Greco di Tufo DOCG or Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC white wine.

Buon appetito and eat fish, a good source of protein and Omega-3.

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Recipe & Photo by Ale Gambini

Servings : 4

Difficulty : easy

Prep Time : 15

Cook Time : 20 min.



9 oz Trofie pasta

2 Barramundi fillets, thawed

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp capers

1 organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed

6 Italian Basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp fresh parley, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper , to taste

freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to sprinkle



Thaw the Barramundi fillets, rinse and pat dry. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté garlic in EVOO and butter until golden, then add caper, basil , parsley and lemon juice. Cook for a couple of minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken .

Add the Barramundi, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 5 minutes or until golden.

In the meantime cook Trofie  in a large pot of boiling , salted water for 10 minutes..

With a slotted spoon, drain slightly the pasta an place it on the skillet.

Sauté  Trofie in the Barramundi lemon sauce quickly.

Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Quick Genovese Pesto Sauce

There are many types of PESTO, but without any doubt the Genovese Pesto , the one made with basil, is the most famous and known around the globe. The original Genovese Pesto sauce is made with only 7 ingredients and the recipe recalls for a marble mortar with a wooden olive tree pestle to work the ingredients. Although it would be to avoid the use of the blender because the blades of steel and the heat could alter the taste, I used a hand blender following a couple of good tricks: – to prevent the overheating, blend the ingredients at the lowest speed possible and intermittently (blend for a few seconds then stop and start again). – Put the bowl and the blades (if using a regular blender) in the fridge for an hour before use. The colder, the better. The Genovese Pesto sauce is the perfect “companion” for trofie, trenette, lasagne and gnocchi. Pair the dish tossed with this delicious sauce with a Colli Di Luni Vermentino DOC white wine. The following recipe has been adapted from “Dining in Genoa”, by M&R Comunicazione, available at the Tourist Information Offices in the city of Genoa (Italy). Buon Appetito!!! Pesto_BLAD blog - 06 copy Pesto_BLAD blog - 16 copy Pesto_BLAD blog - 18 copy Pesto_BLAD blog - 23 copy

Photo by Ale Gambini – BreadLoveAndDreams.com


  • 60 gr of genovese basil PDO
  • 45-60 g of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, freshly grated
  • 20-40 g of Sardinian pecorino cheese
  • 60-80 cc of Extra Virgin Olive Oil PDO from Liguria
  • 10 g of coarse sea salt
  • 30 g of pine nuts (from Pisa or the Mediterranean)
  • One or two cloves of garlic (Vessalico garlic).


Wash the basil leaves, which must be soft and come from plants no more than 2 months old. Dry them carefully on a paper towel. Place the garlic into a medium bowl along with a few grains of coarse sea salt and “crush” with the blender. Add the pine nuts and continue to crush until you get a coarse pulp. Add the basil leaves and continue to crush gently, then add the cheese and mix everything together. Soften the mixture by adding olive oil, little by little, until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Add the rest of the oil and mix using a wooden spoon.

Water Gnocchi With Swordfish And Pistachio Pesto


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Water Gnocchi With Swardfish And Pistachio Pesto

Speaking of weather, in these days LA is “burning” and reminds me the hot Sicilian summer. I decided to cook a dish that combines some of the traditional ingredients of the Sicilian cuisine: swordfish, pistachios and citrus. The gnocchi are very simple, made just with semolina flour and hot water. After the first bite you will feel the taste of the Mediterranean sea, a culinary trip without travel.

Pair this dish with a dry and fragrant white wine from the coastal areas such as Vermentino (Liguria and Sardinia), Falanghina (Campania), Salina Island (Sicily).

Buon Appetito!!!


Serving : 4-6

Difficulty : medium

Prep Time : 50 min.

Cook Time : 15 min



For the gnocchi

1.8 cups (300 gr) semolina flour

1 1/4 cups (300 ml) hot water

1 pinch coarse salt


For the pistachio pesto

1 big lemon or citron zest

1.5 oz. of capers capers

3 oz. of pistachio

1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

1 small bunch of basil

1 pinch of thyme

1 pinch of oregano

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt and pepper , to taste


For the swordfish

8 oz. swordfish

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 clove of garlic

1/2 glass white wine

1 pinch chili pepper



On a medium bowl sift the semolina flour.

In a large sauce pan bring to boil the water with salt, then remove from heat and add the semolina flour stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a firm dough forms.

Move the dough on a wooden cutting board, then knead with hand until a smooth dough will form. (Be very careful because the dough will be hot).

Shape the dough into little logs then cut them into pieces about 1 inch long.

Roll over a gnocchi board, then place them on the floured work surface, well spaced one to another. Set aside.

Dice the swordfish then sauté in a a large skillet with olive oil, garlic and pepper. Pour over the wine and cook until evaporate. Set aside.

On a food processor whirr together pistachios, capers , herbs, citrus peel, Parmigiano Reggiano, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. You can also do it with a traditional mortar.

Bring to boil a pot of salted water with a tablespoon of olive oil, then dump the gnocchi in.

Cook for a couple of minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Drain the gnocchi with a skimmer and place them on the skillet with the swordfish.

Sauté the gnocchi with swordfish, then remove from heat and add the pesto.

Stir until well incorporate.

Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmigiano Reggiano.


Photo by Ale Gambini